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Mega Manila traffic: Is there still hope?



Many decades ago when life was slow and simple, you had very few options of travelling from point A to point B. There were private cars, taxis, public utility buses and of course the iconic jeepneys. Back then when our population was only 30 million in the early sixties, these modes of transportation served their purpose. It was a breeze to traverse EDSA during those days compared to a parking lot that it is today especially during rush hours.

“Heavy traffic and the lack of parking facilities have made these mobile apps very popular among commuters.

In 1981, our car population hit a significant milestone — we had one million registered vehicles. This ballooned to 11.5 million registered vehicles in 2018. In a span of 37 years, our vehicle population grew 11 times. And yet, we see the same road infrastructure that served one million vehicles in 1981. Is it any wonder that heavy traffic is the new normal in EDSA? Oh yes, SLEX and NLEX were built to ease the entry and exit of vehicles going north and south of Mega Manila, only to get stuck in the main artery that interconnects four cities and 13 municipalities that compose Mega Manila.

Government, for its part, has implemented policies that would mitigate the traffic situation along EDSA and other major thoroughfares within Mega Manila. You have the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) — better known as the number coding, the truck ban along EDSA banning light trucks from the main artery from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the operation of our local train system — the LRT and the MRT. But due to the sheer volume of vehicles brought about by our exploding population which stood at 106 million in 2018, compared to only 30 million in 1963, traffic along EDSA has not eased a bit.

According to JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), we are losing P3.5 billion everyday due to traffic. This is projected to balloon to P5.4 billion daily by year 2035 if this problem is not addressed immediately.

New technology
New technologies have stepped in to help ease the traffic situation along EDSA. We have Waze and Google maps — smartphone apps that help efficiently navigate motorists to their destinations while avoiding heavy traffic along the way. I am so dependent on Waze whenever I need to drive around Mega Manila. Waze is always a part of my daily commute.

Our major telecom companies like Globe and Smart should encourage their subscribers to use these navigation apps to help ease traffic not only along EDSA but in the entire Mega Manila. Will it hurt these companies’ bottom line if they offer free mobile data for Waze and Google Maps users? I hope they do. Offering free mobile data for Waze and Google maps will encourage more users of these navigation apps which will result in easing the traffic situation within the metropolis. How about it, Globe and Smart?

Point to point (P2P)
Point to point bus services that ferry commuters nonstop from cities outside Mega Manila to major destinations have also contributed in easing the traffic along EDSA. Instead of bringing their own cars to go to work, daily commuters avail of this new transportation service. If you do the math, you will be able to save a significant amount of money by patronizing these P2P transport systems. For example, P2P fare from Alabang to Makati is P100. If you drive your car to Makati and you take the Skyway just as P2P buses do, you pay P164 for toll. Cost of fuel from Alabang to Makati is around P300. So, total cost to bring a car to Makati from Alabang is around P464 one way. And this does not include the cost of parking. All told, you save roughly P300 per day one way going to Makati from Alabang and P600 per day roundtrip. If you commute five days a week, you save P3,000 per week or P12,000 per month which translates to P144,000 per year. By riding the P2P for your daily commute to work, you not only save at least P144k per year, but you also help ease the traffic in EDSA.

Grab and Angkas
Ride hailing platforms like Grab and Angkas are also tech-based transportation options that are available to the riding public. Heavy traffic and the lack of parking facilities have made these mobile apps very popular among commuters. As a personal experience, I hail Grab whenever I travel to and from our airports. Riding with Grab is a no brainer. Approximate one way cost from my house in Alabang to Terminal 3 is around P600. However, if my driver brings me to Terminal 3, cost of fuel is P300 plus toll fee of P209 for a total of P509 one way or P1018 roundtrip. This translates to savings of P418 whenever I am brought to the airport by my driver. I will save another P418 should I ride with Grab upon my return home. All told, one complete journey will save me P836 by riding with Grab going to and from our airports.

Angkas is similar to Grab but uses motorcycles to ferry passengers and goods. Due to its size and maneuverability, motorcycles can weave in and around heavy traffic situations and will transport passengers and goods faster than a motor vehicle.

Truly, ride hailing apps like Grab and Angkas contribute to government’s vehicle reduction program along our major thoroughfares.

Online shopping
Another phenomenon that is getting very popular every day is online shopping. Do you realize that online shopping helps ease traffic in our major thoroughfares? In this day and age where time is the most valuable commodity, online shopping is a welcome relief for busy individuals. Major retail outlets have gone online in the marketing and the delivery of goods thus saving time, money and contributing to the ease of traffic in the metropolis.

Work dormitories
Major real estate companies have been investing heavily on work dormitories. Work dormitories have been sprouting like mushrooms all over the metropolis. Strategically located within one’s office vicinity, work dormitories are indeed a welcome option among common workers. By staying in a work dormitory during the workweek, workers save time and money travelling to and from home to office five to six days a week. Hooray for these work dormitories! Workers can work, save time and money and ultimately contribute to ease the traffic situation in the metropolis.

Driver education and discipline
Let us not forget that human beings still operate transport vehicles that ply our major thoroughfares. One of the major causes of heavy traffic is poor driver discipline both in the operation of private and public transportation vehicles. Lack of driver education together with the ignorance of traffic rules and regulation result in unending chaos in our major thoroughfares. This is also one of the main causes of road accidents that happen on a regular basis. With improved driver education/discipline and strict implementation of traffic rules and regulations, we believe that our current heavy traffic situation will be greatly eased.

Let us contribute our share in the efficient transport of people, goods and services by using these technologies. Losing P3.5 billion a day due to heavy traffic is a massive burden to our economy. That is P1.3 trillion pesos per year going down the drain! If we truly love our country, we should actively participate in mitigating the heavy traffic situation we are currently experiencing. Losing P3.5 billion a day should serve as a wakeup call to each and every Filipino!