EDITORIAL - Back to traffic jams

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Back to traffic jams

With the easing of the National Capital Region to Alert Level 1, a bane of the pre-pandemic normal is back: heavy traffic. The situation has become such that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is now considering the full return of the number coding scheme, currently being implemented only during rush hour.

The traffic jams are back even before in-person classes resume at all levels in all schools in the NCR, and even before all those who have been working from home for most of the past two years return to their offices.

As in the pre-pandemic period, among the thoroughfares with the heaviest traffic are EDSA and many of its adjoining streets as well as the roads leading to Manila’s Port Area where cargo trucks congregate.

With all forms of public transport back at 100 percent capacity, many people have stopped using bicycles to go to work, not only because commuting is more convenient but also because more vehicles on the road means heavier air pollution. Local governments may have to dismantle those metal posts installed for bike lanes, leaving only the solar lights and other visual cues to mark the special lanes.

Local government units should also revive studies on roads inside private subdivisions that should be opened to the public to ease traffic congestion. Roads that have become commercialized in particular should be opened for free public use and maintained by the LGU. Such roads can be limited to private vehicles and closed at certain hours.

At the same time, the government should review the policy of resorting to toll roads within the NCR. Why do taxpayers have to pay P35 just to reach the NAIA from the junction of Macapagal Boulevard and MIA Road? Traffic decongestion is defeated when motorists avoid such bypass roads to save money.

There has been no significant improvement in mass transport facilities, so people still rely heavily on private vehicles. Motor vehicle manufacturers and dealers have reported continuing sales particularly for motorcycles in the NCR during the two years of the pandemic, but there has been no commensurate expansion in road capacity. The traffic problem is coming back and will need a decisive response.


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