Suggestions to solve Manila's traffic woes

'The current transportation bottleneck is something that should concern every Filipino'

Richmond Sim

11:49:9am December 29, 2015

11:46:40am December 30, 2015

With estimates of around P2.4 billion lost daily from our economy due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila, the current transportation bottleneck is something that should concern every Filipino.

The amount could swell up to P6 billion by 2030 if unaddressed, according to Senator Paolo Aquino IV.

The amount is no joke, and if we sum up the daily losses incurred by this situation, it could have been used to build world-class hospitals, research facilities, academic institutes, and defense equipment, among others.

It would be easy for us to rather censure government offices such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) or the local government units (LGUs) that are responsible for ministering the traffic on their areas of responsibility, but playing the blame game would lead us to nowhere.

I highly appreciate efforts from Malacañang by putting the Philippine National Police’ Highway Patrol Group (HPG) on the roads to man the flow of vehicles, but I believe this solution is only temporary and would eventually require long-term plans and solutions.

Thus, I’m sharing a few ideas on how to solve Manila's traffic woes.  

TRAFFIC FIX. Highway Patrol Group personnel issue a ticket violation receipt to a jeepney driver caught loading passengers at an unloading area at EDSA corner Taft Avenue. The HPG is the main traffic enforcer along EDSA amid worsening traffic in Metro Manila. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

TRAFFIC FIX. Highway Patrol Group personnel issue a ticket violation receipt to a jeepney driver caught loading passengers at an unloading area at EDSA corner Taft Avenue. The HPG is the main traffic enforcer along EDSA amid worsening traffic in Metro Manila. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

Invest in infrastructures

First, I do not see any possible reason for the government not to invest on building new infrastructures. By mentioning “infrastructures,” not only am I regarding highways, skyways, and the likes. In fact, I actually am focused more into building railroad systems being the most efficient way of transportation ever present anywhere in the world.

It has to start somewhere and I believe that improving the currently existent Light Rail Transits (LRT) and Metro Rail Transits (MRT) would be a great head start. From there, we can extend the routes that are covered by these transits to include the entire metropolis.

Then we must prepare to expand further into areas outside Metro Manila, including cities in Visayas and Mindanao.

Building railway systems will benefit us three-way. First, the pissed motorists will not have to lose hours on the road which will result to better productivity. Better productivity means better business performance. Second, we would no longer have to waste billions of pesos from transport congestion and may instead use this sum of big bucks on other projects. Third, the economy will boom as products become more mobile . 

Learn from Latin America

Aside from this, we should also follow examples from fellow developing nations in Latin America, where they organized a very systematic public transportation procedure. Buses and jeepneys should have common terminals where they are allowed to pick up and drop passengers.

Well, this is probably not the first time you are hearing this suggestion but it never gets done. I am looking at a brighter side, however.

Political will

Political will is very much needed in times like this so that the construction of transport stations outside jammed areas will be brought to reality. Strict implementation of the rules should accompany great ideas.

Violating drivers should be charged reasonably. Here comes the role of the MMDA, LGUs, and most especially the HPG, which should be visible on the roads catching violators. Better walkways should also be provided for passengers who will be walking from where they are to pick-up stations or from drop-off stations to their specific destination. 

Parking spaces

We should also organize parking spaces for those who are bringing in private vehicles. Those who use black (or green) plated cars should also have their own “terminal” where they can leave their vehicles outside congested areas and then walk to their specific destinations. For all we know, it may actually be a better idea if we revise the Building Code of the Philippines to require future establishments to have a certain minimum space allotted for parking lots.

But in the context of today, creation of parking buildings (probably not those like in Makati that cost billions) would be highly appreciated. Perhaps, it will require stretching efforts for the passengers, but if we only analyze our situation carefully, a pinch of some sacrifice will go a long way. 

Bicycles

The promotion of bicycles as a means of transportation should also be supported by the government because not only is it economic but is also healthy for the cyclists and for the environment. Some may argue that riding a bicycle may actually be a health hazard and is dangerous in the metropolis because of high levels of pollution and the risk of getting along with vehicles. In this case, I strongly suggest for exclusive bicycle lanes.

Patience

In the meantime, we all should share the responsibility to maintain better road traffic conditions by bringing with us tons of patience as we drive along EDSA and other major highways. After all, it’s not that difficult to give way to others who are sharing the road with us.

When everyone has the discipline (this is a long shot, but then again, we need to start somewhere) and proper road etiquette, losing a few seconds or minutes of giving way to others will result to actually saving hours of being stuck in heavy traffic. The solution is in us. 

If you do have any other suggestions, please leave them on the comments section and share them with your fellow Filipinos! – Rappler.com

Richmond Sim is a Computer Engineering student of the Ateneo de Manila University. He is also a former junior student partner of Microsoft Philippines.

A version of this article has been published on Richmond Sim’s blog: www.rcsofficial.blogspot.com.