Senators urge MMDA to suspend driver-only ban on EDSA

Senators urge MMDA to suspend driver-only ban on EDSA
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will implement a scheme banning driver-only cars on EDSA during rush hours.
The STAR / Felicer Santos

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2 5:54 p.m.) — Senators called for the suspension of the implementation of the expanded high occupancy vehicle or HOV lanes in EDSA, which bans single-passenger cars during rush hours.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Resolution 845 on Wednesday, the first day of the implementation of the scheme.

The Senate adopted the resolution a few hours later. A copy of it would be sent to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the STAR reported.

In the resolution, the senators noted that the Metro Manila Council implemented the driver-only ban without public consultation and hearing.

"Whereas, it is not proven, empirical or otherwise, that indeed, seventy percent of motor vehicles plying EDSA is driver-only-driven," the resolution read.

The senators also cited the concerns of experts and citizens who have expressed doubt on the success of HOV regulations in easing traffic congestion.

"Whereas, transport experts, including University of the Philippines Planning and Development Research Foundation's Primitivo Cal, warned that such 'piecemeal' or 'band-aid' measure could even worsen traffic congestion as it could encourage the proliferation of unauthorized 'for-hire' vehicles or 'colorum', as shown by the recently scrapped Indonesian model," the resolution said.

Recto, in a press release Wednesday afternoon, said that commuters have few alternatives "if there are not enough premium buses along EDSA and no MRT."

He said vehicular volume on EDSA was just transferred to smaller roads that cannot handle the number of vehicles rerouted from Metro Manila's main thoroughfare.

"Cars, like water, will seek their own way out... We are shooing cars away from the main artery to minor roads not wide enough to handle the surge in volume," he said.

In 2017, the MMDA implemented the HOV lanes in EDSA, which designated the lanes closest to the MRT-3 for the exclusive use of at least two occupants.

The expanded HOV policy imposes a driver-only ban in the whole stretch of EDSA from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

Sen. Grace Poe earlier told the MMDA not to be hasty in implementing the scheme that bans single-passengers on EDSA.

The senator said that MMDA should first conduct a dry run, study the scheme and publish a clear set of guidelines before implementing the policy.

"Unless you can guarantee na ang mga illegally parked vehicles dun sa Mabuhay Lanes ay tatanggalin ninyo at malilinis ninyo in coordination with local governments, huwag kayong basta-basta magsasabi na hindi na puwedeng dumaan sa EDSA," Poe said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with reports from Paolo Romero and Marvin Sy

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