News Commentary

How to sustainably manage traffic on EDSA

Green EDSA Movement - Philstar.com
EDSA traffic
Slow-moving traffic and congestion on EDSA, a main thoroughfare across Metro Manila, as seen in January 2022, the second year of the pandemic.
Philstar.com/Deejae Dumlao

Better mobility is a must for the economy to recover from the deepest recession in decades and for society to function efficiently.

It is time for a paradigm shift away from decades-old traffic and road management practices of Metro Manila traffic managers. Vehicle number coding and adding more road space for private vehicles have not yielded the expected benefits as shown by worsening traffic conditions on EDSA as Covid lockdown rules are being wound down.

It is time to embrace and implement the best practices and smart solutions long adopted abroad and embodied in the National Transport Plan (NTP) of NEDA approved in 2017 by President Duterte to sustainably solve traffic congestion, moderate air pollution and improve quality of life in Metro Manila.

NTP’s approach to traffic and road management is grounded on the reality that urban road space is a finite resource that must be utilized judiciously, and that private vehicles are the least efficient people mover. NTP prioritizes people mobility with a vehicle occupancy-oriented approach that extracts higher productivity from the road space to attain higher people throughput.

The NTP has three key policy guidelines – prioritization of mass public transportation, alternative non-motorized mobility through biking and walking, and travel demand management based on vehicle occupancy as a means to regulate vehicle volume on the road.

Accordingly, we recommend the following measures:

  1. Implement a high occupancy vehicle, or HOV, rule for free access to EDSA during peak hours, while imposing a congestion charge on vehicles with lower than the prescribed minimum occupancy similar to the Electronic Road Pricing system in Singapore and London.
  2. Widen sidewalks by allocating one full lane in each direction for active people mobility and greening with trees and landscaping;
  3. Allot a second lane at busway stations for express buses to bypass local buses and speed up traffic flow of public buses;
  4. Complete the bike lane network in major and secondary roads;
  5. Build park-and-ride facilities at key entry points to the city core for motorists to park their vehicle and take public transport;

A new normal currently exists. Traffic on the new busway has improved, while private vehicle lanes remain the outlier with daily congestion the norm. This situation must change.

The current record-high fuel prices will likely exert a depressing pressure on car use, but this must not lull traffic managers into complacency. This fuel crisis must be taken as an opportunity to institute long-term sustainable mobility solutions with the salutary effect of mitigating climate change from lower vehicle emissions.



Green EDSA Movement is an initiative launched in April 2021 to transform EDSA into a tree-lined greenway and prioritize people's mobility.






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