• Traffic transport planning initiatives


    IN 1984, Metro Manila had one of the most modern Light Rail Transit in the world. In 1975-1977, Metro Manila had the most comprehensive plan in the world– The Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development planning Project (MMETROPLAN). It was a World Bank-financed inter-agency project of the Philippine Government led by the Planning and Project Development Office of the thenDPWTC and Freeman Fox Associates of London and Hong Kong. I was fortunate to be the Senior Planner and Team Leader for Development Planning of MMETROPLAN.

    Eight integrated LRT lines were planned to be accomplished in 15 years from 1977, along with a bus rapid transit, and cordon pricing in congested roads. As early as 38 years ago, urban mobility was already in check to accommodate the current population of Metro Manila. It also took into consideration that the Megalopolis should prioritize pedestrians and mass-transit over private vehicles.

    In 1945, the American Corps of Engineers planned the six circumferential roads and 10 radial roads for then Manila and suburbs. Until today, 70 years after, circumferential Road 6 has not seen the light of day. One of my main recommendations in Manila Megalopolis 2020, a paper I submitted to Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2003, is the creation of urban growth centers as counter magnets to the rapid growth of Metro Manila. Access to the north and south of Luzon would have prevented regional population migration towards the central city. Economic, health, and educational opportunities would have been equal. Lastly, ecological preservation would have been more manageable.

    Previous planning initiatives emphasized that cities are for people and not for automobiles. After 38 years, the development recommendations and conclusions made by the team still hold true and valuable. Sadly, they remain as plans to this day.

    In 1905, Daniel Burnham planned Manila. His inspiration was Paris and Venice. Pasig River was envisioned to be like the River Seine, and the esteros of Manila like the canals of Venice. The inspiration for Manila Bay was the Bay of Naples. In 1977, Metro Manila was envisioned to have integrated mass transportation systems so that sidewalks, open spaces and old trees would be preserved for walking, biking and social interaction.

    Although it is frustrating to wait for these plans to materialize, I believe that through visionary leadership, strong political will, good planning, good design and good governance; the Philippines will be well on its way to become one of the top 20 economies of the world by 2021. It is not an impossible task. It all starts with electing the right leaders in 2016.

    Roads are for people first
    Cars and automobiles do not own the streets; the streets belong to everyone. The problem with Metro Manila is that it embraces the necessity for automobiles. It also followed the planning and zoning mistakes of post-war, car-oriented cities like Hollywood and Los Angeles. Apart from this, there is also a problem of regional centralization. Today, there is an imbalance between daytime and nighttime population in the city: 16 to 17 million in the morning and 11 million in the evening. There is also an imbalance between jobs, housing, education, health, and economic opportunities, hence the regional population migration towards Metro Manila.

    There are just too many cars and the addition of 120,000 cars a year in Metro Manila is outpacing the development of new and widened roads. Because of road widening projects, sidewalks are getting narrower and trees are being cut as well. Despite these efforts, the rapid increase of automobiles is still clogging the major arteries such as EDSA.

    Another main problem of the city’s road design is that major arteries and central business districts transect low-density gated villages and gated military camps. Access and movement of vehicles are impeded.

    The government should identify immediate, short-term, medium-term, and long-term solutions.

    For immediate solutions, installing more CCTV cameras and security monitoring devices can help aid gated communities to open their roads for access. This will aid in easing probable crimes that may happen in the area, which is one of the major fears of the gated communities. But so far, the opening of San Miguel and Bel Air II Villages in Makati and the Rockwell Center for bypass access is successful. Enforcement of traffic rules and road discipline is a must, especially the loading and unloading of buses and private vehicles along EDSA.

    For short-term solutions, re-training and coordinating the different traffic officers of LGU’s is important. Making sure that traffic lights are working during rush hours, and are re-studied if the current traffic strategy is effective.

    For medium-term, the loading and unloading zones for both Buses and Jeepneys should be developed and proper infrastructures should be put into place. LRT lines should be well-maintained so that road usage will not drastically increase

    For the long-term, it is important to adapt a beneficiary-sufferers analysis before an economic-benefit analysis, to understand the daily struggle of all citizens. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive urban planning, land use/transportation plan, and traffic management. Comprehensive in terms of area coverage, including Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon. Comprehensive in terms of time: immediate action, short term, and medium term plans. Comprehensive and inter-disciplinary – urban planners, regional planners, land use planners, transportation planners, environmental planners, traffic engineers, and traffic management experts. Let us not leave the planning and development of cities to politicians, road engineers, and contractors.


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    1. Ricardo R. Pasco on

      Old city ang karamihan sa Metro Manila at lumulubog pa. Ang mga kalsada natin ay makikitid lalo na sa kamaynilaan dahil ang mga unang kalsadang ito ay pang-karetela lang halos dahil ang mga kalsadang ito ay panahon pa ng kastila at early American era pa nagawa, so traffic na. Hindi properly zoned ang development ng Metro Manila dahil mga old city nga. Ang Metro Manila ay nadisenyo na parang isang malaking palengke dahil kakaunti ang mga tulay therefore kakaunti din ang major roads na karugtong ng tulay. Lahat halos ay dadaan sa kakaunting major roads na ito (may karugtong na tulay) at dito magsusulputan ang mga business districts, schools, malls, stores and other paninda (palengke) therefore traffic na. Iyong ibang area naman ay parang kastilyo na iisa lang ang puwedeng daanan (incoming and outgoing) at may dagat o ilog (like a moat) na nakapaligid at walang tulay therefore traffic na. Unlike perhaps Jakarta and Singapore which is more properly zoned dahil later na lang sila nagdevelop ng mga city nila.

      Looking at the top view of the situation, assume that Metro Manila is still raw and undevelop. How will its development be (i.e. where to put the roads, bridges, buildings, warehouses, business districts, schools, malls, churches, factories, etc.)? This ideal properly zoned development may not be practicable now because of the very huge costs involved but at least this will serve as the model and we can make the most out of it like:

      Laparan ang mga kalsada. Dagdagan ng tulay ang mga kalsada natin. Ang tulay ay kalsada rin at kapag walang karugtong na tulay ang isang kalsada o iisa lang ang nagagamit na tulay like Guadalupe Bridge-Makati ay aapaw talaga ang traffic. Parang drainage din yan na kapag lahat ng drainage pipe (mga Kalsada) ay dumadaloy o tumutuloy sa iisang drainage pipe (Guadalupe Bridge) ay aapaw ang tubig (vehicle traffic). Some postcards abroad especially London shows roads have its own connected bridges so hindi putol ang kalsada.

      Water seeks its own level at ang mga sasakyan ay makakasuot yan saan mang sulok kung may tulay silang madadaanan so hindi maiipon sa iisang kalsada like EDSA and mga sasakyan. It is being said that C-5 can really lessen the traffic especially in EDSA. It is true and we can make a lot of C-5s’ in the metropolis by building bridges (tulay) from north to south, east to west of Metro Manila. Kung magagawa ang mga tulay na ito ay makakasuot sa lahat ng lansangan ang mga sasakyan dahil may tulay na. Kung maraming sasakyan ang dadaan sa (hindi masyadong commercial na) kalsada dahil may tulay, ay tataas ang real estate tax dito at mare-recover din ang gastos sa pagpapagawa ng tulay. So mababawi din ang magagastos sa pagpapagawa ng tulay. Let us develop other areas in the metropolis by constructing more bridges (tulay) therefore there will be more construction jobs and later in the vicinity of the new bridge, more stores/businesses, houses, etc. will be established (more taxes also) and again more jobs will be created since more employees (more taxes also) will be needed and less vehicular traffic. These additional taxes can be used again as subsidy in government activities (i.e. oil stabilization fund, scholarship fund, health care fund, etc.)

      Also, yung mga pollutant Business Offices, factories and warehouses should be strictly regulated and relocated outside Metro Manila and away from residential areas (proper zoning). The metro area is saturated with Central Business Districts, schools at malls and they have to control the inflow and outflow of vehicles to such that there will be a smooth flow of incoming and outgoing vehicles (minimum of 20kph) with the objective of avoiding vehicle build up in and around it’s vicinity. Relocation is a better option.

      Magsimula na tayong magdevelop ng ibang metropolis in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao upang properly zoned at hindi binabaha.

      • We should legislate a “Compulsary Purchase Law”.. means government has power to acquire land or lot in order to replan or construct new developments for the good of the nation and for the benefits of the most!!

    2. The article brings out the plans that were developed so many years ago. Government decided to spend money elsewhere. Now that we have had the money to proceed, we are faced with incompetent people and no plan. I totally agree with you. We need planners to develop a plan. We do not need incompetents.

    3. I just wish that if there is someone out there in power to make Mr. Palafox the Metro Manila governor or the DILG secretary. The govt needs people like the author to solve the myriads of traffic,accomodation and planning problems.
      Kudos to you Mr. Palafox.

    4. There has to be a central infrastructure development plan that incoming presidents and their staff of competent officials with no reference to the current administration should adhere to because basic models of modern cities can be achieved only through years of continuous development. They should not deviate from this development plan for each leader will know that much will be accomplished after 6 years of tenure. The initiation of this vision could start next year.

    5. Make Edsa as “no stopping zone”, it is either join or exit system..it is necessary that commercial area along edsa provides an auxillary road for loading and unloading, same as other establishment..there should be a depot system oustide Metro Manila for every industrial or commercial business..park and ride near railway station..there should be a bus quota to operate, so bus companies should be advised to merge..average speed system..driving license should have a point system as well so driver will be more careful..average speed on entire stretch of EDSA..