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MMDA GM Garcia’s awful TV interview

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As expected, the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane policy of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) concocted by its chairman, ex-military mutineer Danilo Lim and its general manager, Jose Arturo Garcia Jr., triggered extensive opposition from the public. Even the Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning it.

Under this new traffic regulation, vehicles with only one passenger are prohibited from using Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) on weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. This measure is supposed to promote carpooling.

The public outrage against the HOV lane policy compelled the MMDA management to suspend its full implementation, which was supposed to begin this week.

Garcia has insinuated to the news media that the fate of the HOV lane policy will not depend on the will of either the people or the Senate but on say-so of the Metro Manila Council, the body composed of mayors of the cities composing Metropolitan Manila.

More than a week ago, Garcia defended the HOV lane policy on television. His main excuse was that motorists affected by the policy are still allowed to use other roads.

While he also acknowledged that errant bus drivers still regard traffic regulations with impunity, he tacitly admitted that the MMDA has not addressed that problem. His hollow explanations were repeatedly punctuated with disclaimers that he and his boss Lim merely inherited the traffic problem from their predecessors.

As expected, Garcia did not discuss the real reasons behind the current traffic mess along EDSA. Garcia probably thought that everyone who watches television is too stupid to realize that his statements to the public are all propaganda and hogwash.

For one, why does the MMDA resort to restrictions without first considering measures which are less intrusive on the rights of motorists? If traffic clogs up at EDSA, why doesn’t the MMDA first find out the reasons for the clogging and take remedial measures against the clogging, before resorting to bans and restrictions? Garcia did not explain that.

Under international driving protocols, the innermost lane in a highway or expressway is always for fast-moving vehicles, while the outer lanes are for slow-moving ones.

Sadly, slow-moving vehicles along EDSA are not regulated by the MMDA. Because the slow-moving vehicles can use any lane they wish, the optimum use of EDSA is virtually impossible. Moreover, the slow-moving vehicles force other vehicles using EDSA to weave dangerously on the highway.

Still under the same protocols, the innermost or fast lane should be free from hazards and obstacles. That is why in modern cities abroad, a main road intersection’s left turning lane is carved out of the middle island so as to prevent left-turning vehicles from blocking the fast lane.

In contrast, the innermost lane of EDSA is arbitrarily blocked at certain intervals by u-turn cuts at indiscriminately selected segments of EDSA. This is readily seen at the north and south segments of the EDSA North Avenue intersection.

Another example is the northbound lane of EDSA at the mouth of the flyover near Camp Aguinaldo. Vehicles are allowed to use the innermost lane of EDSA to go under the flyover and turn left to Santolan Avenue (Boni Serrano Avenue) or make a u-turn to the southbound lane. More often than not, vehicles accumulate there, thus causing a bottleneck which blocks the mouth of the fly-over heading north.

Apparently, Garcia and Lim are unaware of those protocols.

Since Garcia admits that buses using EDSA ignore traffic regulations, why isn’t the MMDA taking steps to address that problem? Why should private vehicles be made to suffer for the trouble caused by mindless bus drivers?

Another reason for the traffic mess along EDSA is that the MMDA has exempted physicians from the number coding road rule, which prohibits cars from metropolitan roadways one day a week depending on the last digit on their license plates. As a result, anyone who can pretend to be a physician on a house call, or on his way to a hospital, can avail of the exemption. That special treatment the MMDA has whimsically given to physicians, or more specifically, to individuals who pretend to be physicians, does not contribute to vehicle reduction along EDSA.

Garcia and Lim are also unaware that physicians in Metropolitan Manila do not make housecalls. They are also unaware that physicians on the roads are never on an emergency trip to the hospital because hospitals have medical personnel to attend to emergency cases.

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