EDITORIAL - Quick fix

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Quick fix

Whether two-wheeled, three- or four-wheeled, why do people buy their own vehicles in the National Capital Region? Because mass transportation is acutely inadequate and is not interconnected. In southern Metro Manila, the situation has become worse following the five-year shutdown of the commuter train service. The ever-increasing vehicle density in the NCR has not been matched by a corresponding expansion in the road network, except for a handful of toll roads that few motorists use because of the steep rates.

The inevitable result is road congestion. And instead of road expansion, motorists are seeing existing thoroughfares for their use shrinking. This is the case along EDSA, the busiest road in Metro Manila. Even before the pandemic, the avenue wasn’t wide enough to accommodate vehicular volume especially during rush hour. Private vehicles have now lost one lane to the busway, and half a lane to bicycles, whose use became popular during the pandemic lockdowns. While the daily commute of bus riders became easier, the traffic woes of private motorists and those using vehicles of ride-hailing or taxi services became worse.

Those woes could become even worse, if yet another lane would be assigned exclusively to motorcycles along EDSA. This is a scheme being studied by the Department of Transportation ostensibly to improve traffic flow along EDSA. The DOTr should first determine whether motorcycle riders will want to be confined to a single lane as they go about their business. Senators, many of whom use EDSA in going to and from their offices, have already expressed opposition to the plan, describing it as a quick fix. Vehicles of certain senators have been apprehended for using the EDSA busway to avoid the traffic jams.

The government will have to devise other schemes to ease traffic. Moving government working hours can work, as it can stagger the number of vehicles on the road during rush hour. Mall owners have previously cooperated in adjusting their operating hours. It also helps to allow some flexibility in the assignment of exclusive lanes – using stud lights instead of metal posts, for example, to delineate bicycle lanes along limited road space.

As President Marcos recently pointed out, the only solution to reducing vehicle density is to provide an adequate mass transport system. Along this line, several infrastructure projects are underway such as the country’s first subway. Completion will take some time, however. Until the projects are rolled out, government officials should refrain from aggravating people’s traffic miseries.

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