Unraveling the traffic catastrophe of Metro Manila
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2018 - 12:00am

It is more than traffic catastrophe that Metro Manila is experiencing at this point. Zoning, right of way, environmental pollution, etc., are some critical issues that need to be urgently addressed. Commercial establishments, shopping centers, and condominiums are being constructed along EDSA without regard for the problems that come with it. For example, when one builds a business with an office structure of 12 stories high there will be at least 1,000 office workers in that building. These workers have to use transportation (without mentioning the roads to be widened), parking, utilities and sewage system to be upgraded. The infrastructure is over-burdened. If the president has the political will to do it, he should stop all new constructions, and no new construction permit should be issued along EDSA all the way from Caloocan City to Makati to the airport.

Traffic engineering

I have asked the opinion of Engr. Nestor Andaya of San Francisco who has been a part of the World Bank funded subway projects in Paris and Rio de Janeiro. A graduate of Mapua University, he left in the ’70s to work for Flour Engineers and Construction Co. on subway infrastructure. Recently retired, he is still called to work on new underground and transport systems in Houston and Dallas, Texas, and in Phoenix, Arizona, including the expansion of the San Francisco subway toward the counties to the west. He said what we need are very good and efficient traffic engineers.

Do we have transportation engineers?

Transportation engineering is part of civil engineering that uses techniques for safe and efficient movement of cars, people and goods on the roadways. Top-notch traffic engineers normally have acquired a master’s degree in this. The skills include experience in road traffic, transportation planning, traffic signal design and operations, urban transportation, pedestrian safety and mobility.

Top universities in the Philippines offer Master of Science in Traffic Engineering like Mapua University and the University of the Philippines. Transportation engineering, as detailed by Mapua University, “provides in-depth understanding and skills needed for planning and analysis, traffic engineering and management, design and road safety, intelligent and sustainable transport systems.” Among the responsibilities of traffic engineers are: 1) determining traffic characteristics relative to volume, speed, and accidents; 2) identify street capacity levels and prepare service analysis for existing and proposed projects; 3) develop and screen improvement alternatives, perform traffic operations analysis, macro/micro simulation analysis and refine conceptual design; 4) develop cost effective data collection plans; 5) develop methodologies by presenting studies and findings and build consensus among stakeholders and the public; 6) plan, direct, review, and participate in professional and technical work of every discipline in engineering and transportation professionals.

Manila, after WW II

We are dealing with proper and safe people movement in traffic. World War II destroyed Manila completely. An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 civilians in a city of one million died together with professional pensionados trained in America, who were meant to prepare us for the granting of independence in 1946. Our economy was devastated. In spite of this unfortunate situation, migrants from all over Luzon flocked to the capital city expecting better livelihood opportunities. This deluge of unemployed and illiterate folks from the province caused the proliferation of squatter colonies, which are now compounding the problems of congestion and traffic.  

Metro Manila is not composed of provinces, but is divided into four geographic areas. Up north toward Bulacan: Malabon, Navotas, Caloocan, and Valenzuela were activated. Toward the south: Makati, Pateros, Taguig, Parañaque, Alabang and Muntinlupa were developed. The Eastern part stretched toward Mandaluyong, San Juan, Quezon City, Pasig, Antipolo, and Marikina. Today 16 cities combine to make up Metro Manila with a population of 12.8 million, as large as the 12.7 million of Metro Paris.

How Paris Metro provides a compact self tour

The Paris Metro or Metropolitan (French: Métro de Paris) is a rapid transit system in the Paris Metropolitan Area. It carries 4.210 million passengers a day. It is one of the densest metro systems in the world, with 303 stations within the 86.9 km (34 sq mi) of the city. Sixteen subway lines serve Paris.

The city is divided by the Seine River to the right and left banks – La Rive Droit and La Rive Gauche. There are a total of 20 districts or arrondissements. The Paris Metro lines are identified by the terminus or stations at both ends. For a short one to two- week visit one can concentrate on two subway lines: orange for La Defense – Chateau de Vincennes Line and green for Mairie D’Issy – Porte De La Chapelle. La Defense Line passes down to Charles de Gaulle or Arc de Triomphe, then walk along Champs Elysees to Concorde, the guillotine site during the French Revolution. Then walk further down to the Louvre Museum behind which is Notre Dame Cathedral. The Nation Line across it can bring you to Disneyland. The green line Mairie D’Issy - Porte De La Chapelle passes through Montparnasse Bienvenue, Rue du Bac of the Miraculous Medal Shrine and the Musee d’Orsay filled with a collection of Impressionist paintings. Make a stop at Place Pigalle and ascend by funicular to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. This overlooks the whole of Paris. Step down to Montmarte to have a glamorous portrait sketched for $15 by Russian, Vietnamese or Chinese painters.

Clearing up the EDSA traffic requiresa ‘knowledge society’

I had enough time getting acquainted with Paris since I represented the country at UNESCO, Paris for two and a half decades; whether I took residence at Victor Hugo near Champs Elysee or at Hotel Tour Eiffel. Straightening up the traffic problem involves the literacy of everyone: the local government, the police, the pedestrian, the schools, and the media. Lee Kuan Yew wisely built up this “knowledge society.” US President Kennedy‘s good judgment was based on a committee of deans of top universities like Massachusetts Institute, Georgetown, Fordham, and Cambridge. I wonder why our presidents, past and present, did not do this. It’s not too late if Secretary of Transportation Arthur Tugade and Secretary of Public Works Mark Villar do likewise.

(For feedback email to precious.soliven@yahoo.com)

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