TRAFFIC conditions in this supposedly urban area of 12 million people arfe putting a weight on all our movements and day-to-day intentions. One cannot embark on any enterprise, trajectory, gathering without considering the traffic as a major factor on whether one will get there on time or at all.
When once one could be clever and use neighborhood streets that were far from the beaten track of major thoroughfares and in an intricate, round-a-bout way get to one’s destination, present traffic conditions in these areas have turned them into traps of paralyzed traffic with heavy use by those fleeing from major crowded roads. Public transport is an ordeal because of traffic causing delay, discomfort and despair to those who use it. It is not just the light railway system breakdown, it is too the many buses and public utility vehicles vying with one another to use the inadequate traffic spaces.
Then, there is the infrastructure a-building as in the vicinity of the airport and the area for the connector roads which not only do not re-route traffic in a practical and successful way but literally impede it. Every time there is a so-called re-blocking in a major road there is pain inflicted on all who travel. You may be near or you may be far but the consequences of delay and literally being halted in your tracks will come your way. It seems there is no creativity or simple planning about how to re-route or when to do work on the streets.
While the above conditions can be attributed to a singular lack of competent governance, there are other traffic generators that can be traced right back to the private sector such as developers who use every space of their property to pack it with overly large or numerous buildings and commercial fronts, yet with too narrow streets and inadequate parking provisions. Check out or rather, avoid places like McKinley Hill and the Resorts World area and see for yourself. Or, large groceries or hardware stores that in other more well-planned cities are located on their outskirts and not right smack into already dense vicinities. Individuals too are at fault as when they insist on opening their residential neighborhoods to commercial enterprises that will attract traffic.
But, of course, the megacity or primate city that Manila and its suburbs have become with everything concentrated here for too long is what affects us from its own weight.
What is alarming is that other cities in this country are following the same path of unplanned growth and inordinate use of space turning them into approximations of Manila.
I live in Mandaluyong and have seen Shaw Boulevard turn into a parking lot from the once bucolic street that had a wealth of trees and quiet neighborhoods around it. Naturally, the proliferation of people and traffic and huge groceries and malls that have come its way have made it what it is today, one of the worst traffic-laden streets in the metropolitan area because it has gone beyond its carrying capacity. But it could get worse if they put a light railway line above it. Then it will turn into a dark and noisier area. So, there lies a dilemma that is probably repeated all over this town. When to plan, how to plan, how to undo, when to do.
It takes me half an hour to get to Shaw Boulevard from my house off it, a trip that in my memory used to take less than five minutes. From there I have to battle EDSA traffic or that of the neighborhood Mandaluyong streets. Our neighborhood streets have become alternative routes for traffic from farther places. Road humps have had to be installed as the cars jockey for position. Traffic aides are already necessary as driving manners deteriorate and vehicles occupy the box at junctions while they wait to move, stopping traffic going in another direction. If I invite guests to my house, I mostly invite those who live nearby and can come without being unreasonably put through an ordeal of traffic. Or, I have guests only on Sundays and holidays. That is the reality of Manila today.