MMDA warns of ‘hellish’ traffic for ‘ber’months

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Following last week’s traffic nightmare due to flash floods, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday warned that “hellish traffic” would be in store during the last quarter of the year.

Saying that he refuses to “sugarcoat” the traffic situation on EDSA, MMDA traffic czar Bong Nebrija told motorists and commuters to brace themselves for “heavier traffic than usual” as the agency sees more vehicles on the road during the holiday season.

“Isang linggo pa lang ang ulan at ang pasko malayo pa (One week of rain and Christmas is still far away) and yet we are already seeing the influx of additional cars on EDSA. Expect that when the ‘ber’ months arrive, the traffic will be very unusual,” Nebrija said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum. 

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago, who was at the same forum, said around 402,000 vehicles go through EDSA every day, which is two times higher than its carrying capacity of 200,000 vehicles per day. 

The MMDA also sees that there would be a 20 percent increase in vehicles going through EDSA beginning next month, she said.

Citing data from the MMDA, Pialago admitted that they can no longer promise that they would be able to ease traffic during the holiday season this year. 

Old system

House Deputy Minority Leader and Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando has pushed for the revival of the organized bus route (OBR) system that was implemented during his time as MMDA chairman.

“We implemented the OBR in 2006 during my term as chairman of the MMDA. Though the system had a downside, it is an effective strategy that will solve the traffic problem. I have not seen a better alternative to it,” he said in a privilege speech in the House of Representatives on Tuesday night.

Fernando said the OBR system only broke down after three months of implementation because of unruly drivers and bribery.

Under the OBR system, the MMDA designated two city bus lanes on EDSA marked A and B, with each lane provided with bus stops in areas of high passenger volume. 

The bus lanes were fenced off as a physical restraint to commuters and to force drivers to pick up passengers only at designated gates. Buses were also given a few seconds to unload and load passengers.

“Seven bus terminals were established in the perimeter of Metro Manila and controlled by the MMDA where all buses terminate at the end of their trips to wait for their turn to be dispatched by the MMDA, timed with the number of passengers on the road,” Fernando recalled.

For provincial buses, those leaving Metro Manila were only allowed to run on the third lane as they are supposed to be a point-to-point service and were not allowed to pick up passengers other than at their terminals.

On the other hand, those entering Metro Manila unloaded passengers at five stations under flyovers, where taxis and jeepneys can take the passengers to their final destinations. The whole operation was closely monitored by the MMDA on the ground, Fernando said.           – With Edu Punay




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