2019 a busy year for motoring

MOTORING TODAY - Ray Butch Gamboa - The Philippine Star

Judging by what have been started and left unfinished in 2018 and couple these with what’s newly planned to be done in 2019 all in the name of improving motoring in the country, it appears that we have quite a busy year ahead.

Let’s start with what has been successfully started, though with more than its fair share of protests and resistance, and poised to be vigorously sustained this year — the campaign against illegal parking.

Coming in the heels of studies showing that clogging of vehicles in EDSA can be substantially lessened by freeing alternative parallel streets of obstructions, which are topped by illegally parked vehicles, the MMDA aggressively implemented its drive to clear these streets of ambulant and semi-permanent businesses like vulcanizing and car repair shops, food kiosks, etc. and the proverbial street garages.   

This year, the MMDA is set to come up with steeper illegal parking fines like what used to be P200 would be raised to P1,000 for attended vehicles, and now a fine of P2,000 for what used to be P500 for the unattended.

And long-time illegally parked cars can be issued violation tickets more than once a day with three-hour intervals in between issuances, while vehicles that do not have registration numbers for ticket issuance would be towed.

The MMDA is hell-bent on clearing those alternative routes of obstruction if only to provide a slight breather for those that cannot help but travel through EDSA.

Speaking of breather for EDSA, many are still of the firm belief (except the provincial bus operators) that ridding the metro’s main thoroughfare of humongous provincial buses crisscrossing it from north to south and back and forth would inarguably substantially lessen its present congestion. And if plans won’t miscarry and schedules would not be screwed up deliberately or inadvertently, the two Super Provincial Bus Terminals with combined capacity of 4,000 buses located north of the metro in Valenzuela, and down south in Sta. Rosa, Laguna would start their operations by next month.

And the MMDA has vowed that upon these super bus terminals’ start of operations, all the 46 provincial bus terminals presently operating in EDSA, from where all these giant EDSA-clogging provincial buses are presently being dispatched would be permanently closed. That’ll mean a reduction of more than a thousand gigantic vehicles a day for the 23.8-kilometer metro’s main traffic artery.

But in a move that appears to be thought of out of the box, the MMDA is considering adopting this year what has been successfully implemented in other countries like Tokyo, Paris and Amsterdam — lane size reduction.

In the countries mentioned where the width of road lanes is only 2.8 meters compared to EDSA’s 3.4 meters, significantly less road crashes have been reported, logically making EDSA, being oversized, less safe.

According to the MMDA, if EDSA’s lane would follow these countries’ lane size, it could accommodate an additional lane — a logical basic solution to our traffic gridlock problem of having less road space for the number of vehicles that daily occupy the road space. And the number of vehicles in our country is increasing by the year.

Could be worth the try.

Continuing with what’s up ahead in this year’s motoring scene, what could be a hotbed for protests and debate this year would be the projected substantial increase in our motorists’ vehicle registration expense by a whooping P1,800 to cover the costs of the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center — almost double the present registration fees for some.

As you may know, one of the stumbling blocks in the government’s campaign to strictly implement the phasing out of vehicles that are not road worthy, unsafe, smoke belchers, rolling coffins and the like that are inimical to the well-being of the general motoring public and other road users is the shortage or absence of sufficient and working Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) Centers. And the government has admitted or claimed that it does not have the funds and the capability to engage or supply the service. That’s why it’s passing the cost to the public — the vehicle owners.

One political observer was heard to have said that this is the most appropriate time and opportunity to make good use of the billions of pesos that have been dormant with the Road Board, “If the Road Board was created by a legislation, then it can be amended by another legislation. Why pass on an expense to the already over tax-burdened citizenry a huge expense that can be covered by an infinitely much-bigger existing fund source, that’s reportedly just waiting to be plundered by despicable pork barrel enthusiasts?”   

Enough said.

Let’s move on to another motoring issue that’s up for discussion and hopeful implementation this year — bigger subsidy for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.

Although the program has somehow fortunately lifted slightly with the unconditional support of some automotive manufacturing concerns, it has been observed that the program may have been ill decidedly prematurely launched.

The presently considered anemic P80,000 subsidy for the venture indeed scared away the more cautious operators and drivers from jumping into the artificially-created bandwagon.

The vision and intentions of the program are unimpeachably present but what’s lacking is a more sound and less risky financial packaging.

But the good news is that most, if not all, of the government proponents are wise and intelligent enough to accept the oversight and courageous enough to do something about it.

LTFRB Chairman Atty. Martin Delgra III said that they are proposing to increase the subsidy for PUVMP-compliant drivers and operators to encourage them to modernize their units. He has yet to bare the proposed increase as it is still being studied but he said that it is more substantial than the current P80,000 the government is offering.

“The study is being made currently. Hopefully, we would be able to do that by first quarter. It is something that will definitely encourage more drivers and operators to come into the program,” remarked the LTFRB top honcho.

Like last year and in the last three decades of fixing our sights in the country’s motoring scene — transportation, traffic management and the motoring industry, we’ll keep you posted.

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments, email [email protected] or visit www.motoringtoday.ph.

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