Solving the traffic mess
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2019 - 12:00am

The seconds will turn into minutes. Ten. Twenty. Thirty. And the minutes will turn into hours. But nothing will happen. One hour. One and half. Nothing and nothing still. Two hours, then three, and then you lose count. But not before you lose your mind.

This is Metro Manila where the traffic situation has become a catastrophe, an invisible war, an apocalypse of sorts.

Sadly, our worsening traffic situation is the perfect metaphor to describe our society — chaotic, messy and slow-moving. There’s no discipline and motorists only follow rules when authorities are watching.

‘Hagads’ for gods

But the glaring parallelism lies in the growing number of vehicles with police escorts or “hagads.”

These convoys rip through traffic at the expense of everyone else just to get ahead. It is beneath them to fall in line, believing their time is more important than yours or mine.

They are after all God’s gift to society, if not the gods themselves.

It’s exactly how our society works — some of our government officials, some of the powers-that-be, and some of the hard-to-love elites advance their own interests at the expense of everything and everyone else. Never mind that they are audaciously skirting around the laws.

EDSA, indeed, is a glaring reflection of the absurdities in our society. What a shame.

Solving the traffic problem, therefore, requires strong political will to implement the rules and to ensure that the rules apply to everyone — from that Angkas driver snaking through EDSA to the tycoon sitting comfortably in his new Lexus.

How do we really solve the traffic problem?

These past days, there’s been a lot of proposals on how to solve the traffic — some are just palliatives, while some are plain nonsense.

A reader, who has been driving for 50 years shared with me his ideas on how to address the mess. Some have advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part, I think the proposals make sense.

Here are some of his suggestions:

Remove vehicles that block the flow of traffic

He said vehicles blocking the flow of traffic —whether they are waiting for just a few minutes or are double parked — should be apprehended.

“To be effective, I suggest putting in place 1,000 roving motorcycle cops,” he said, adding that the cops would be tasked to apprehend violators.

Synchronizing signal lights

The traffic intervals in major intersections should be shorter and signal lights should also be synchronized, he said.

“The signal lights of all major intersections should not be more than one minute and 15 seconds per round and for minor intersections, no more than 45 seconds per round.” This is to avoid the build-up of cars, he said.

Keep jeepneys on one lane

“This way, they will police themselves on how much time they will load and unload passengers. They will also stop loading and unloading on other lanes, which is dangerous for passengers. This way, it would be easy to apprehend unruly jeepney drivers.”

No pink fences on EDSA

“This will create more traffic. There should also be single bus lanes so they can police themselves. There will be no overtaking,” he said.

Tricycle drivers should be apprehended

“Authorities should also apprehend tricycle drivers because they don’t follow traffic signs. They enter one way streets and load and unload anywhere. They also make a U-turn anytime and anywhere. They should also stay on the innermost lane,” he said.

No contact apprehension policy not effective

He believes that the government’s no-contact policy is not effective because violators only receive the notice of violation after three months. Violators don’t immediately know they have violated a traffic regulation, so they continue doing it,” he said.

Implementing the law

My reader also said that there should be consistency in implementing the laws.

“When there is a new regulation, it is only implemented in the first two weeks. There should be consistency,” he said.


Indeed, there’s no single solution to ending our traffic woes. Some of these suggestions may work, some may not. But whatever it is, it should be strictly implemented and it should apply to all.

It’s really time we fix the traffic problem. A big part of the mess is also caused by corruption in the regulatory bodies. These should be addressed too.

Enough of the corruption at the LTFRB. Enough of the rogue bus operators and franchise violators.  Enough of the unlimited expansion of ride-sharing companies.

Enough of the inefficiency at the LTO. Enough of the drivers who easily get a license without really knowing how to drive.

And most of all, enough of the “hagads” for these gods please.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is

Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with