Metro Manila’s Worst Bottlenecks
- BACKSEAT DRIVER By Dong Magsajo () - October 11, 2006 - 12:00am
Any writer who says that his opinions are not dependent on his subjectivity is a liar. I start this column with this sentence because I am about to name the worst bottlenecks in Metro Manila according to the experiences I have had driving in and around the metro over the past ten years or so. Being a resident of the Pasig/Mandaluyong area who’s been working in the Manila area for most of those ten years, I will naturally miss out on some of the other God-forsaken intersections in Metro Manila that I do not frequent (I could imagine Las Piñas residents howling in protest about my choices but I really don’t have much driving experiences in the area so…). The bottom line here is that I am naming the worst bottlenecks that I personally traverse, which means those that you consider the worst could be different. Either way, I know you can relate with what I say, because even if you don’t live in the Metro Manila area, you will have had your frustrating traffic experiences in this country by the time you learn to read.

So, which areas do I frequent? Let’s simplify things, shall we? We were taught in our basic geometry classes that the fastest way from point A to point B is through a straight line, right? Well, in the case of a Mandaluyong resident, then, the fastest way from Shaw Boulevard to the Manila Port Area ought to be through three very straight lines — Shaw, EDSA, then Roxas Boulevard. So, ideally, that ought to be my most efficient, least time consuming route. And it would be, were it not for some really idiosyncratic developments in the said major arteries, the first of which is that godawful bus/taxi cage at the foot of the Magallanes interchange (which readers of this column have been rightfully condemning since day one).

The Magallanes interchange was actually built to ease the traffic in what would have been the intersection of the South Super Highway and EDSA. For years it served its purpose well enough, considering the Filipino driver’s penchant for making things worse for himself and everyone else. When the MMDA built that bus/taxi cage from hell, however, the southbound lane met its doom. Since that time, traffic has worsened to the point where EDSA commuters have come to expect a crawl all the way from the Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue area. And the root cause? Why, buses swerving out of the designated cage area, of course! Through some sick, perverted sense of reason, the authorities place a cage where public utility vehicles ought to stay, then let them swerve all the way to the opposite end of a six lane highway just so the same buses can avoid the said cage. What the #$@&$ is that all about?! Your guess is as good as mine.

You get through that hellhole, up through the ramp that leads to Pasay City, and then you’re met with the bottleneck that the ramp going to the NAIA had created not too long ago. The two lanes left that lead to Roxas Boulevard (and the feakin’ Mall of Asia, which each and every Pinoy must visit just for the heck of it) are swamped with so many vehicles (many swerving from the outer lane) you’d think it was the gateway to heaven! Of course St. Peter doesn’t really greet you as you cross that imaginary gate, a bus terminal does. Yes, in case you’re wondering, the company’s bus drivers still maneuver along the little stretch of EDSA that fronts their terminal — to the detriment of the entire traffic situation.

Squeeze in through that little piece of Beelzebub’s kingdom and you think you’re home free once you turn right to Roxas Boulevard? We should be so lucky. Along the sorry stretch of Roxas Boulevard lies that pitiful excuse for an "Abbey Road" that fronts the Rajah Sulayman Plaza. There, pedestrians are given more time to cross the major intersection that is Roxas Boulevard than they are to read an entire newspaper. And they do take their freakin’ time! Any time of day, you take an aerial shot of that particular pedestrian interchange and you’ll understand why the Philippines is left out in the area of development. We, fellow citizens, obviously do not know how to prioritize correctly. Anywhere else in the world, along major arteries, vehicles are given more time to use the roads than pedestrians. Why? Because it makes sense. And we all know that common sense is sorely lacking in those who plan out these pedestrian walkways.

Of course I only talk about the regular bottlenecks I’ve come to hate here — those that I traverse on a regular basis. There are other bottlenecks that come to mind as well. There’s that ridiculously slow stoplight along C-5, that insanely narrow exit to the Skyway, the road turned jeepney terminal that fronts Sta. Lucia Mall in Marikina, the entire stretch of Ortigas Avenue, and that awful area at the foot of the Katipunan flyover that leads to the gates of both Ateneo de Manila and Miriam College (as a UP student back in the day, I swear I must’ve cursed a couple of thousand Aterneans who couldn’t help but swerve into their tiny gates from the opposite end of the lane). All these bottlenecks have created headaches and made angst-ridden monsters out of the typical Metro Manila motorist more than once. To many, they’re the stuff of nightmares. The kind we wish we’d never have to actually live out on a daily basis.

Ah, but then, we’re used to dealing with such unfortunate occurrences. Traffic is as much a part of the Metro Manila resident’s life as pollution in the air and corruption in the government. We take it all in stride because that’s how life is lived in these parts. Traffic management in Metro Manila’s worst bottlenecks is so mediocre and so pathetic because we’re all apathetic. We’ll complain inside our cars, but we’ll never speak out loud enough so that the authorities can hear our anguished cries. Oh well. Whatever will be, will be, I guess. At least I have this column to use to vent out my frustrations and maybe get the authorities to listen. Hey, come to think of it, so do you…

Here are some Backseat Driver reactions from last week. As usual, a few of them proved to be quite prescient, to say the least. We must all be on the same page somehow. This first one, though, is downright scary!

Attention lady drivers coming out of establishments along Katipunan Avenue: Beware of hold-uppers who will approach you as you board your car. They will also board your car and let you drive around at knife point then ask for your valuables and sometimes for your car. I was and victim once. So was a friend’s sister. — 09194167503

MMDA personnel are all over during the hours of the implementation of the Coding Scheme but disappear during the window time. A waste of taxpayers’ money, as usual. — 09178804214 (Hmmm… See column above for editor’s comments.)

Government owned vehicles — especially those with red plates — should be parked in their respective official garages after office hours. — 09189370577 (Amen.)

Why can we not have orderly traffic in Metro Manila? Because the very people who should help are complicating it. — 09178531454

Drivers should just turn their headlights or foglamps on during heavy rain, not their hazards as I frequently observe. — 09189221451 (Right you are!)

I bought an automatic Toyota Innova last January. There are times when I will start the engine but it dies down on me — even when the engine is already hot. Is this normal? — 09205424251 (No, it isn’t normal. Our advice is for you to have it checked at the dealership you bought it from, and to tell them to check on your fuel line and/or alternator.)

Speak out, be heard and keep those text messages coming in. To say your piece and become a "Backseat Driver", text PHILSTAR<space>FB<space>MOTORING<space>YOUR MESSAGE and send to 2840 if you’re a Globe or Touch Mobile subscriber or 334 if you’re a Smart or Talk ’n Text subscriber or 2840 if you’re a Sun Cellular subscriber. Please keep your messages down to a manageable 160 characters. You may send a series of comments using the same parameters.

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