New traffic scheme causes mayhem

- Nikko Dizon () - September 18, 2003 - 12:00am
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed the intersection of Quezon Avenue and EDSA in Quezon City yesterday, resulting in a massive traffic jam and a barrage of complaints from irate motorists who were caught by surprise by the new scheme.

Under the new scheme, vehicles from Quezon Avenue are no longer allowed to cross the intersection. They have the option to use the new underpass to cross EDSA or turn right on EDSA then make a U-turn under the flyover.

MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando explained the new scheme was meant to provide non-stop traffic flow for public utility buses (PUBs) plying EDSA going to Monumento.

The scheme is similar to the "clearway’" implemented by the MMDA throughout Quezon Avenue, Marcos Highway, Commonwealth and C-5.

But motorists ended up getting stuck in a monstrous traffic jam yesterday, noting that MMDA traffic enforcers stood helpless on the road, unable to properly direct traffic.

MMDA Traffic Operations Center Executive Director Angelito Vergel de Dios said the traffic jam could have been caused by PUBs loading and unloading at the corner of the intersection, hampering the traffic flow.

Fernando simply shrugged off yesterday’s complaints, saying it normally takes one week before people familiarize themselves with a new scheme.

He further noted that conducting a massive information campaign on MMDA’s new traffic rules have been proven ineffective because people usually ignore them.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila mayors, with the exception of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, have approved the imposition of stiffer penalties on public and private vehicles caught violating the yellow lane on EDSA during their Metro Manila Council meeting yesterday.

Fernando said an ordinance is set to be signed by the mayors that would formalize the decision.

Mayors Rosendo Capco, Toby Tiangco, and Marides Fernando of Pateros, Navotas and Marikina, respectively, attended yesterday’s meeting. The rest of the local chief executives sent their representatives.

Fernando said Binay, through his representative, voiced out his reservation on the imposition of penalties because the mayor believes that the MMDA does not have the authority to do so. Binay was a former MMDA chairman. Fernando said the mayor’s representative cited the Supreme Court’s decision on a case between MMDA and Bel Air Village.

Drivers of private vehicles would be fined P500 each time they are caught entering the yellow lane 50 meters before they are supposed to turn right to a secondary road. If a driver is caught violating the yellow lane three times in one year, his or her driver’s license will be suspended, Fernando said.

For public utility bus (PUB) drivers would be fined P500 for the first and second offenses and P1,000 for the third offense. If he is caught three times in six months, his driver’s license would be suspended," Fernando said.

PUBs driven by drivers with suspended licenses would be impounded, the MMDA chairman added.

PUBs are now allowed to overtake on the yellow lane and must only load and unload passengers on the lane nearest the sidewalk.

Fernando emphasized the need to strictly implement the yellow lane to pave the way for the single bus dispatching system and lifting of the number coding for PUVs in two months.

At the council meeting, the rules for towing vehicles were also reiterated, Fernando said.

Tow trucks under the jurisdiction of local government units must first inform the MMDA Metrobase even before literally engaging the hook on the vehicle so that the driver or owner would know where to claim his vehicle, Fernando said.

Tow trucks must only charge the fixed amount of P1,400 for every vehicle, he added.

On EDSA, towing services are under the MMDA’s jurisdiction. Fernando said he wants to have more tow trucks on EDSA to meet the MMDA’s goal of removing a stalled vehicle within 15 minutes to avoid causing heavy traffic.

The MMDA Metrobase radios the tow trucks where there are stalled vehicles on EDSA, Fernando said.

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