Whether we like it or not, call it crisis or merely a serious problem, the public transportation and traffic management system in our country needs a serious overhaul. Overhauling, in this context, does not mean taking down structures.
The “Ber” months have officially begun, which signals not only the commencement of the country’s busy Christmas Season but also of the traffic congestion usually coinciding with it. However, the congestion being experienced in Metro Manila has been exacerbated by the constant breakdowns of all major rail systems during the early part and ongoing construction works in several key roads and highways serving the metropolis.
Many commuters, particularly those in the working class, lament the long travel period required just to get to and off from their respective offices. Many businesses claim losing revenues due to congestion, particularly those in the logistics, shipping and manufacturing industries. There is a growing consensus that the country is facing a “transportation crisis” as a result of the unreliability of the country’s public transportation system, road congestion and inefficient traffic management policies.
Crisis is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a “time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger.”
If you ask daily commuters, this has been a prolonged period of difficulty and trouble. Contrary to opinions of non-traffic experts, the commuting public has been creative in dealing with the current situation by waking up early and using mobile application platforms to find alternative modes and routes to get to their respective destinations.
If you ask government officials, they will claim that we are not yet in a period of crisis as efforts have been ongoing to prevent the situation from further worsening. The MMDA has been constantly recalibrating its strategy in dealing with the EDSA problem. The Department of Transportation has been trying to put in place remedial and long-term solution to address the years and decades-long problem of traffic.
Whether we like it or not, call it crisis or merely a serious problem, the public transportation and traffic management system in our country needs a serious overhaul. Overhauling, in this context, does not mean taking down structures. Our plan, policies and programs need to be revised and must be aligned countrywide in order to dramatically improve the situation.
The primary solution requires tremendous political will on the part of the government.
More cars are plying through roads than those being phased-out/retired. Our franchising and regulatory agencies will have to implement a phasing-out policy if we seriously intend to relieve congestion and pressure on our main roads and highways.
The government must also ensure that all infrastructure works are finished on time. This will allow improved traffic flow and reduce bottlenecks being experienced at present.
More than terminology, what matters most is how we all respond to the existing traffic and public transportation situation. Government must let the public know that it is serious in addressing the problem. The general public will have to be extra patient while certain short, medium and long-term measures are being implemented.
Crisis or no crisis, there is a serious traffic and public transportation problem confronting us. It requires solutions, not blaming and certainly not finger pointing.