By ATTY. JOEY D. LINA
The terrible traffic situation in Metro Manila continues to defy solution, despite the numerous innovations that have been used in the various attempts to improve traffic flow.
Over the years, such innovations include number coding, flyovers, footbridges, yellow bus lanes, bus markings, segregation, automated dispatching, u-turn slots, concrete barriers, cabled gates and dozens of uniformed traffic enforcement officers from the Metro Manila Development Authority that performs their duties, especially at EDSA.
But the nightmarish traffic has deteriorated and will deteriorate even further, unless measures are taken to effectively address this reality: Limited road space is simply no match with the volume of vehicles that continues to increase.
With statistics showing that Metro Manila has the highest ratio of registered vehicles (RVs) to the length of the national road at 902 RVs / km, followed by Region 3 at 388 RVs / km, and with Region 1V-B lowest at 38 RVs / km, it is no wonder that the traffic along most main roads, especially EDSA, can be horrible at almost all times of the day, in any direction, rain or sunshine , but especially after a heavy downpour.
And traffic costs – fuel, working hours and potential opportunities lost, not to mention the acute air pollution and pollution-related diseases of idling engines – are enormous. A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) estimated that in 2017 about P3.5 billion of daily economic and financial losses were due to traffic congestion. JICA said the amount is likely to rise to P6 billion a day by 2030 if no intervention takes place
is done to alleviate the problem.
With the statistics of Metro Manila with about 30 percent of all registered vehicles in the country, it is clear that the solution lies in vehicle reduction. And one of the ways to reduce the huge number of vehicles is carpooling, according to Edison "Bong" Nebrija, head of the MMDA special operations group, who last Sunday was a fellow student in my DZMM teleradyo program Sagot Ko & # 39; Yan (8 to 9) am Sunday).
The car sharing scheme of the MMDA or the "only-driving" car limitation at EDSA, Nebrija says, is intended to encourage people to carpool – just as in countries where the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) scheme has been successful – and to do not obstruct alternative routes with more vehicles.
The fact that car sharing is very much needed at EDSA to reduce the volume of the vehicle is clear for MMDA officials citing data showing that approximately 350,000 vehicles traverse daily the 27 km long trunk that was designed for a maximum capacity of only 240,000 vehicles. And of the total of 350,000 vehicles on EDSA there are approximately 247,000 private vehicles, of which 70% only have the driver as occupants.
But with furious resistance to the planned EDSA EDA plan – approved by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) in a resolution – it seems that the efforts to car-pool nowhere lead. Senators have adopted a resolution that opposes the full implementation that was previously set for 23 August but was postponed.
Yet HOV supporters are begging to give the plan a chance. Some even question the movement of the Senate and say that this can be considered as an attempt to reduce local autonomy, a principle enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, as the "ban on bans" at EDSA was approved by mayors of Metro Manila, consisting of the MMC.
Local chief executives are indeed in charge of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, which I wrote when I was a senator, to "formulate standards designed to achieve these objectives: smooth flow, safety and ease of travel … an adequate and efficient transport service. "
Those who oppose the HOV scheme say that it is against the poor because it affects car owners who can not afford to hire drivers and are therefore forced to drive alone. But such an argument can of course not make sense with the realization that the real poor are actually the commuters who have no choice but to struggle daily in a busy public transport because they can not afford the luxury of their own vehicle.
Car pool advocates emphasize that the scheme supports the real essence of good traffic management, not just to move vehicles, but, more importantly, to move people and goods. The HOV scheme, as it has been used for decades in other countries and in many areas in the United States, could also be effective here in reducing the number of vehicles for a smoother traffic flow while more people are being transported.
Of course, the most effective way to encourage car owners to leave their vehicles at home is to reduce traffic volume, significantly improve public transport – improved mass transit: bus, rail and metro system efficiently connected with other public transport and loading / unload stations in convenient places so that commuters do not have to take long walks.
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