Metro Manila Traffic; a Perennial Problem
As the holiday season approaches, commuters are becoming more used to the ‘new normal’ in Metro Manila traffic situation. People just sigh in quiet frustration and despair as roads seem to turn into huge parking lots.
Recently ranked third in the Southeast Asian region, surpassed only by Bangkok,Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia, Metro Manila traffic has been a headache to commuters and motorists alike.
According to the survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group, commuters are stuck in traffic an average of 66 minutes daily. So if you were to start working at 8am, you’d better leave earlier than 7 o’clock. And that doesn’t include queuing at counters buying tickets or waiting for trains or buses.
So what causes the heavy traffic?
- Infrastructure problem. There is a lack of quality infrastructure to ensure sufficient modes of transportation. The road networks are poor. It is affected by equally poor urban planning in the city. Natural calamities such as typhoon and floods easily affect the transportation, too. An hour or two of nonstop rain can result to flood from ankle-deep to waist-deep depending on the area and it can totally cripple the transit.
- Cars and population density. Due to the huge population, the number of travelers are expectedly high but the ratio with the number of trains and buses is too imbalanced. Public transport can hardly accommodate the commuters. Hence, many people tend to use their private cars which worsens the congestion even more.
- Road accidents. Vehicular accidents happen quite often. it is a result of non-compliance to road safety and laws. It is not uncommon to see cases of road rage, and it’s difficult to tell whether it’s the cause or the effect of the already frustrating traffic situation.
What do commuters do to ease the struggle?
- First, squeezing yourself in a crowd of people in an already overcrowded vehicle is really exhausting. So with the introduction of private-hire car services such as Uber and Grab, travelers find a temporary relief. Taxis are popular, too. But it comes with a price, literally.
- Some companies encourage the use of bicycles to and from work. Cycling remains mainly as hobby and not a mode of transport in the country.
- Filipinos are known for ingenuity. There is always a way out in any kind of situation. So in times of calamities where transportation is almost impossible, opportunities arise. Makeshift vehicles and motorcycle riders offer a hitch but not for free nor cheap. But for someone who desperately want to arrive on time or go home after a long day’s work, the bait is taken.
What has the government done to alleviate the problem?
- The Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or “number coding” system. Basing on the license plates, the schedule of private cars to be on the road is being regulated. For example, license plates than ends with odd numbers are only allowed every other day, etc.
- Truck Ban Ordinance. Freight cars are believed to cause the congestion, hence, the schedule is also regulated. Depending on the weight and type of trucks, they are not allowed in main roads at specific times of day. It is also applied to provincial buses.
- The U-turn scheme. It is to manage the roundabout operations in main roads to avoid having choke points at intersections.
- Future plans include:
- modernization of jeepneys
- building new train systems
- phasing out older model of cars
- urban planning and creating a new administrative center apart from Metro Manila
Construction of new roads isn’t a guarantee to ‘decongestion’, instead, it may just aggravate the problem. As said, it’s just like buying a bigger pair of pants to address obesity. A clear and painless solution isn’t possible at this rate. No city has solved the heavy traffic by relying on private cars.
Maybe the most viable solution is to re-invent the public transport. With efficient and effective system that the people can rely on, commuters just may be eased from the grievances. The neighboring countries such as Japan are in full support to projects such as building the first subway system in the country.
Also, the traffic and road management system should be improved. The road assets should be utilized to its full potential. The implementation of traffic laws and network management such as proper signaling and patterns should be enabled.
The government has probably exhausted the less painful solutions as well as the less difficult ones. At this time, what the country needs is the full cooperation of agencies and individuals alike.There is a Filipino saying, ” Habang maikli ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot” which loosely translates to “If the blanket is short, learn to curl”. It means that we all have to adjust and endure until the situation becomes better. Whining and complaining won’t contribute anything. Furthermore, a huge number of cars aren’t a sign of modernization. An efficient and reliable public transport system is.
Let’s talk with aimtalk teachers
- Do you have any troubles in your commute or transportation? If you have, what are they?
- If you answered Yes to Q.1, what do you think can be done to solve or make it better?
- Have you ever heard any implemented traffic regulations to solve transportation problems in your country. If yes, what are they?
- Have you ever heard of a flying car? If it is launched in public, do you think it might help reduce traffic problems? In your own opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a flying car?
perennial(adj): continuing or existing for a long time
surpass(v): be greater than
conduct(v): curry out
cripple(v): damage something badly so that it is no longer effective
ingenuity(n): skill at thinking of new idea
alleviate(v): make something less difficult to deal with
ordinance(n): a law, usually of a city or town, that forbids or restricts an activity
aggravate(v): make a bad situation even worse
obesity(n): being very fat unhealthily
grievance(n): an unfair situation that affects you.
implementation(n): taking action that you have officially decided should happen
whine(v):complain in a sad annoying voice about something.