Metro Manila: Traffic Congestion and Mass Transport Convolution Part 3 of 4

The lack of foresight leads to the absence of a plan to meet increasing demand with most any service the government is supposed to provide the public with.

Haphazard governance has always been the case with the Philippines after independence. The lack of foresight leads to the absence of a plan to meet increasing demand with most any service the government is supposed to provide the public with. The same is the case with traffic congestion.
 
Metro Manila's road network is detailed in the following graphic:



The President has indicated his pique at the inaction of Congress over the emergency powers he requested from Congress to solve the traffic congestion. He has given up. This comes at the expense of the commuting public who go through the agony of suffering from commuting to and from work with a daily average travel time of four hours.

A look at the map reveals how an interim solution can be effected even without the emergency powers.

The DOTr has been talking about a route rationalization study by the UP Institute of Mass Transport whose status continues to be unclear up to the present. The study should be finalized.

Perpetual motion and road discipline is the key to alleviating the problem of traffic congestion. The circumferential road network should be classified as long-haul routes which would be served only by the existing light rail lines and buses which move passengers in larger numbers.

The radial roads are to be classified as short-haul routes which would be served by lower capacity public utility vehicles such as mini-buses and UV Express vans.

The circumferential and radial roads are to be classified as one-way on an ingress and egress basis based on the routes to be detailed by the route rationalization program in order to achieve the highest level of perpetual motion.

Each route will have designated stops and intermodal transfer stations which would allow short-haul commuters to complete their journey in stages. Long-haul routes will be purely on a point-to-point basis with no stops in between.

The government should also make the Pasig River Ferry operational and integrated it with the route rationalization program. The waterway is still the fastest option for commuters going from East to West and vice-versa and also provides the ability to transfer to another mode of transport which would enable them to move from north to south and vice-versa.

It should also consider the possibility of expanding the Pasig River Ferry to extend to the towns of Rizal surrounding Laguna De Bay.

In line with this a ferry service from the towns of Cavite facing Manila Bay should also be considered while the LRT-1 Extension is being constructed. The ferry service could utilize the about to be finished Southwest Transport Terminal at the Coastal Road as its terminus.

Designated truck routes going to and from the ports with truck bans shall also be implemented. The government should also finalize plans to decongest the Port of Manila and utilize Subic and Batangas more.

The same is true with the NAIA. The best location for a new air gateway is really Sangley Point and not Bulacan. The DMIA at the Clark Special Economic Zone should serve as the regional hub for Northern Luzon and the New Clark City in Tarlac.

Lastly when all of these are in place, the government can then enforce private motor vehicle restrictions on major thoroughfares because motorists would now have transport alternatives.

The government can enlist the help of the private sector by using malls as terminals for point-to-point buses bound for the Makati and Ortigas Central Business Districts since they have the parking facilities to accommodate the vehicles used by the motorists turned commuters to get to and from their residences.

Metro Manila's long-suffering commuters deserve all the help they can get from the government as the stress and tiresome commute they presently experience takes its toll on their mind and bodies which makes them less productive. Companies should also explore the telecommuting option for employees who really don't need to be at the office on a daily basis.

There should be road discipline, organization and regulation in the use of roads. It cannot be a free-for-all between public utility vehicles and motorists. The use of PUVs will only be embraced by motorists if they are safe, reliable and convenient. This is why the PUV modernization program of the DOTr should be pursued and not deferred as Senators like Grace Poe and Bam Aquino have been espousing. The public interest should first before these special interest groups who politicians are pandering to because it's an election year.

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About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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