You’re probably asking why a business-article writer like me would start talking about traffic. Well, it’s because Metro Manila traffic has already affected my business… several times this past week.
Yesterday, I had to cancel an appointment in Makati because I had spent nearly two hours in heavy traffic along EDSA. Two days earlier, I spent an hour from Kapitolyo (Pasig) to EDSA along Shaw Boulevard. In both instances, it wasn’t even rush hour.
Now, I’m always the first to tell people not to blame traffic for being late; but when allocating two hours of travel time during non-peak hours just isn’t enough, something has to be done about the traffic! Metro Manila traffic seems to have gotten worse and worse with every passing year. In fact, the driver of the cab I took yesterday said that, if traffic keeps getting worse, in five years we might find it faster to simply walk to Makati. I found it hard to argue with his logic.
As a regular car driver and commuter, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of ways to actually ease Manila traffic. However, they can only be implemented by our government. I may be just a small voice shouting for change, but, I hope that someone from government will view these suggestions below and consider them:
Phase-out fifteen-year-old private vehicles
When I first mentioned this to a friend, he reacted rather disapprovingly. His argument was that he pitied the “poor” Filipinos who couldn’t afford to buy expensive cars. I think it’s a lame excuse not to phase out vehicles.
We have a robust public transport system. I suggest we use it. Having less cars on the road should ease the traffic enough for our public vehicles to make their rounds faster. This means that we get to where we need to go more rapidly.
Eliminate roadside parking
If we don’t have a garage or space to park our car, then we shouldn’t buy a car. Roadside parking has added to the overall magnitude of traffic in Manila. We can’t simply buy a car and not be responsible for parking it properly.
Owning a vehicle is not a privilege. It’s a responsibility. The sooner people learn that, the better off we are.
Ban motorcycles from EDSA
Your might think that these motorcycles are small and only occupy the spaces between cars; but any driver will tell you stories of how motorcycles have slowed them down or caused them to suddenly step on the brakes or blocked them from changing lanes (sometimes making them miss their exit). Putting all these things together spell only one thing… heavier traffic.
There are many other thoroughfares within the metropolis that motorcycles can take. It may be a little inconvenient fro them at first, but, in the long run, they will see its benefit. Banning motorcycles from EDSA not only to eases traffic along this busy avenue; it may also keep motorcycle drivers and riders (just a little) safer.
Relocate provincial bus terminals
Logically, provincial buses headed north should have their terminals near the North Diversion Road and those headed south should have their terminals near the South Super Highway. So, why are nearly all provincial bus terminals located in Cubao, Quezon City?
By maneuvering in and out of their terminal or occupying EDSA on their way north or south, provincial buses add to the already large volume of vehicles on the road. By relocating their terminals closer to their designated exits, we free up a lot of space for other vehicles plying EDSA and other main thoroughfares.
Reduce the length of city buses
When those big lumbering buses try to weave in and out of traffic, or when they try to cut in front of other buses to pick up passengers, other vehicles try to maneuver around them; thus causing a traffic jam behind them.
By reducing the length of city buses by, say, 20%, we create more space for other vehicles to maneuver around. This would surely help facilitate traffic. Another benefit would be that it would be easier to fill the seats of each bus; which would consequently reduce their waiting time per stop; which would, in turn, also help facilitate traffic.
Hold pedestrians responsible for their own road safety
In the Philippines, when a vehicle hits a pedestrian, even if the pedestrian is jay-walking, the driver of that vehicle is made to answer for the damages caused by the accident. This is really sad.
I once saw a group of children playing “catch” in the middle of Araneta Avenue. As luck would have it, one of the kids got hit by a motorcycle, whose driver had no idea that the kids would suddenly run into oncoming vehicles. Luckily, the child was not hurt bad; however, the motorcycle driver suffered a broken arm and (to make matters worse) was thrown to jail for the accident.
Irresponsible pedestrians cause traffic, endanger motorists and eventually harm themselves as they take unnecessary risks to cross the street. We should make them take responsibility for their own actions. If motorists were not held liable for accidents caused by irresponsible pedestrians, perhaps these pedestrians would learn to be responsible.
These suggestions are not new. We’ve heard them all before. Government has even tried to implement some of them before; but, because some rich and/or powerful individuals complained, government halted their implementation.
It saddens me that our government allows itself to be dictated upon by others. If we really want progress, then government has to step up to the plate without fear and do its job!
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.