The Edsa Traffic Problem, and Pragmatism and Realism

Why do Filipinos who have the means to do prefer to buy a car instead of riding a bus, jeepney and UV Express shuttle van? Why would some prefer to pay more for Grab service instead of taking a bus, jeepney and UV Express shuttle van? It is because of the glaring absence of an effective, efficient and safe public transport system in the Philippines.

In recent days, the issue involving the traffic problems involving Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) is again a hot topic. This time around, both politicians and private citizens are heavily criticizing the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for treating the thoroughfare "like a science project" by experimenting on various traffic management schemes. The most recent one is compressing all buses on the yellow lanes that are dedicated to them, which resulted to hundreds of buses cramming on only two lanes and extending the time of bus-riding commuters have to take on road while private vehicles and motorcycles freely traveling on their respective lanes- a picture that was painted negatively on both traditional and social media.

For its part, the MMDA admitted that its limited mandate forces it to experiment on things, some of which did not work as expected. It is only acting on the recommendations set by the Metro Manila Council, the group of all city and municipal mayors of the metropolis that makes the decisions. It also has to deal with the traffic laws and regulations of every Metro Manila city and municipality, which sometimes go in conflict with national and metropolitan laws, and the inaction of Congress over the request for emergency powers that can be used to formulate a more effective approach to resolve not only the traffic problems plaguing EDSA but the entirety of the metropolis.

Unlike what some people, especially Leftists and liberals, are trying to project on various traditional and social media outlets, it is not a sin to own and drive a car. People will always desire to own things, cars being among them.

The problem with left-leaning people is that they put the blame on everything or anything without looking at the bigger picture.

Why do Filipinos who have the means to do prefer to buy a car instead of riding a bus, jeepney and UV Express shuttle van? Why would some prefer to pay more for Grab service instead of taking a bus, jeepney and UV Express shuttle van? It is because of the glaring absence of an effective, efficient and safe public transport system in the Philippines.

That is why I emphasize on the need for the simultaneous building of road, railway and sea networks. That is why I believe in the need to move a bulk of passenger and cargo traffic from the roads to the trains and the ferries. That can only be achieved if the Philippines can have an effective, efficient and safe inter-connected multi-modal public transport system similar to what can be seen in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China, South Korea and most Western European countries.

That is how Filipinos should think and work on things as people, society and government. We should always be pragmatic and realistic look at and do things. It is pragmatism and realism that enabled Singapore and China to not only have effective, efficient and safe inter-connected multi-modal public transport systems but have working and successful governments and economies, effective and efficient education, health care and public housing systems, successful agribusiness and/or food security programs, and peaceful and orderly communities and societies.

Asian-style pragmatism and realism are two things that are sorely lacking in the Philippines right now. The situation is aggravated by too much leftism and Western-style liberal democracy, both of which have caused more harm than good to the country and the Filipino people. The EDSA problem will not be solved by penalizing private vehicles, as espoused by Leftists and liberals, but by first investing on an effective, efficient and safe inter-connected multi-modal public transport system, the proper and strict implementation of traffic laws, from the issuance of driver's permits and vehicle registration to the apprehension of violators, and the removal of the commission-based "boundary" system of public utility vehicles that will prevent buses, jeepneys and UV Express shuttle vans from being packed by drivers and conductors like a can of sardines before leaving the terminal, prevent drivers from overwork and even taking illegal substances to meet the required quota by the operator, and convert drivers and conductors into regular employees with a constant salary and benefits, which is an approach that is based on the realities on the ground and what can work to help resolve the problem.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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