Is There a Solution to Manila traffic?

Rush hour or not, traffic congestion has become a normal scenario in EDSA these days.
The 23.9-kilometer highway is a daily contributor to worsening air pollution as vehicles spend hours in non-moving traffic. Commuters are in a “war zone”, fighting for a seat or a safe ride in crowded buses or trains to get to their destination.

Aside from the sheer volume of vehicles, traffic is also caused by the motorists’ lack of discipline, bad roads and seemingly endless road constructions. Rush hour is no longer the root cause of congestion; rather it just now complements these deeper problems.

The Problems with Motorists and Pedestrians

Motorists cutting off each other and recklessly changing lanes cause traffic and accidents. In addition, an article by Chua stated that traffic lights mean little in Metro Manila. Some forms of public transportation like buses take up more space in the road even though they are colorum or have double plates.



But road accidents and pollution are not only the sad effects of road congestion. According to the study made by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), “the Philippines risks losing P6 billion a day by 2030 because of worsening traffic jams.” The study also specified these effects: value of time lost due to delay, that if the public transport system is improved, commuters can save their travel time by 49 minutes per trip or save at least 18 Pesos a day. In terms of fuel, because of congestion more motorists increased their fuel consumption thus increasing greenhouse emission causing pollution as well as increase their spending on fuel not to mention the increase of fuel prices, it vehicle operating costs, and health hazards.



According to a study authored by Palmiano et al., published in UP-National Center for Transportation Studies, almost 80% of the public transportation that shares the road in Metro Manila is the jeepneys. These 18- to 22-seat vehicles progressed from American army service jeeps left after World War II, provide inexpensive and convenient service to commuters. However, they can also cause disruptions in traffic flow because of the “aggressive and problematic” driving behavior especially when stopping to pick up or unload passengers.

Bicycle: Alternative Transportation?

These days, bicycles are becoming popular among commuters who cannot afford cars. Although, these cannot accommodate a lot of commuters to lessen the number of vehicles present on the road, bicycles can hopefully reduce traffic, in terms of the number of four-wheel vehicles on the road.

University of the Philippines (UP) Engineering Professor Jose Regin Regidor believes that the country needs to build a mass transit system to ease congestion. But since this will take time, he suggests starting with simpler solutions such as walking and cycling. He added that the government and the people should learn from neighboring countries where infrastructure is built around walking and cycling safely. “There are many good practices, we can probably borrow from Tokyo, we can borrow from Bangkok, we can get from Jakarta and Singapore. I think it’s important for us to be able to share these experiences, and among those experiences is really not to rely much on automobile, not to rely much on the cars,” he said.

Despite the popularity of bicycles, the risk among cyclists is high in Manila. According to Roberto P. Esquivel, former Head of MMDA’s Sidewalk Clearing Operations, bicycle lanes here tend to eat into the sidewalks intended for pedestrians—a clear sign of the lack of cycling-friendly infrastructure. He adds, “cyclists, cannot compete with the flow of motorcycles and all other vehicles. But if you are in a group of cyclists, I think it’s safe to occupy the left corner or right corner of the highway.”



Author chatting with Esquivel

Esquivel also believes that before addressing the problems in traffic, one must first ensure the proper enforcement of all rules and regulations. Traffic enforcers should stay loyal to their profession and not be agents of abuse, extorting violators. Law enforcement should always be top priority; it is only through consistency can the citizens learn to follow road rules.

So, is there a solution to Manila traffic? Yes, if both pedestrians and motorists do something about it. Even the simplest actions will create an impact. Our lack of discipline may be a problem but we are also the solution—by being better citizens whether we are pedestrians or motorists.

References:

1.Chua, Jason. nd. “The Problem of Traffic in Metro Manila”. https://sites.google.com/a/my.xs.edu.ph/joshua-chua-14/social-studies/the-problem-of-traffic-in-metro-manila

2. Flatplanet. 2014. “Traffic Problems in the Philippines and Proposed Solutions”. http://www.flatplanet.com.au/hard-heads-the-bpo-business-case/229-traffic-problems-in-the-philippines-and-proposed-solutions-

3.Palmiano, Hilario Sean, Ueda, Shimpei, Yai, Tetsuo. 2004. “Analysis of Delay caused by Midblock Jeepney Stops using Simulation”. http://serp-p.pids.gov.ph/serp-p/details.php?pid=4377&param=jeepney

4. ABS-CBN News. 2015. “How to reduce traffic congestion? Provide more walking, cycling areas”. http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/metro-manila/v1/11/13/15/how-to-reduce-traffic-congestion-provide-more-walking-cycling-areas

-By Panahon TV Intern Kim Anthony Huesca