Transport coalition: Prioritize peopleâs mobility
The coalition said a car-centric policy benefits only 12 percent of Metro Manila households who own cars and increases the hardship for the 88 percent of households without cars.
Boy Santos
Transport coalition: Prioritize people’s mobility
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - May 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A coalition advocating sustainable public transportation is asking the government to prioritize the safe mobility of people over the mobility of private motor vehicles in its transportation-related responses to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

MoveAsOne coalition, a group of 30 organizations, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to move away from current policies aimed at increasing motor vehicle speeds on main roads as these have made other public transport modes, walking and cycling more difficult.

“This has disadvantaged the poor and vulnerable, excluded those with disabilities and ultimately led to more traffic congestion,” it said.

The coalition said a car-centric policy benefits only 12 percent of Metro Manila households who own cars and increases the hardship for the 88 percent of households without cars.

“Prioritizing car speeds is counterproductive in reducing traffic because it promotes a shift from public transport to private motor vehicle use, leading to more congestion and more pollution,” MoveAsOne said.

“We ask that DOTr, DPWH, MMDA and all attached agencies prioritize the safe mobility of people over the mobility of private motor vehicles,” it said.

MoveAsOne is seeking a dialogue with DPWH and MMDA to discuss its proposals. The coalition said it already had a constructive dialogue with the DOTr over the weekend.

During its discussion with the DOTr, the coalition said it was pleased to hear about plans to modernize city bus systems, including the rationalization of bus routes and the consolidation of bus operators, as well as making bus operations more efficient by placing them on exclusive lanes separated from car traffic.

It likewise lauded the agency’s push for safe walking and cycling infrastructure, including on major thoroughfares.

As the government crafts and implements transportation related to COVID-19, MoveAsOne said actions and decisions should be guided based on the principle of achieving “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

It said design of pedestrian infrastructure, among others, should be guided by safety, accessibility and inclusivity considerations as reliance on elevated footbridges excludes over 10 percent of the population who are unable to climb stairs.

MoveAsOne is suggesting a P110-billion investment in infrastructure and reforms in the public transport sector as the country grapples with the pandemic, to encourage people to use mass transport instead of private vehicles.

Transportation adviser and development planner Robert Siy of the MoveAsOne coalition earlier said that a public transport crisis could result in an estimated annual economic loss of P523 billion for Metro Manila alone as public transport operators could shut down, the riding public would experience more difficult commute and jobs would be lost as people could not get to work.

MoveAsOne is composed of commuters, health workers, transport workers, urban planning experts, persons with disability, women’s groups, environmental groups, parents’ groups and student organizations that advocate safe, inclusive and sustainable public transportation.

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