To say that traffic worsens during the Christmas season is putting it mildly.
Traffic woes escalate to hellish levels just when we are raring to spread good cheer.
Vehicle-packed highways, disgruntled motorists and long-suffering commuters are the gifts of the Grinch, and how we wish some kind of Santa would make it all go away for good!
The common sight of commuters filling up road space, craning their necks for a ride to somewhere, or the carmageddon that used to be so rare but no longer, makes us think the traffic problem is on the road to nowhere.
Even some perceived solutions had revealed themselves to be problematic. Recently, a senator demanded that ride-sharing app Grab explain what he said was a sudden surge in its fares.
In a press statement, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said, “The high fare is killing the festive mood of many Filipino commuters. We don’t want to let Grab play the Grinch who stole Christmas from Juan de la Cruz because of high fare.”
Grab’s defense was that it was “working on a very limited number of drivers to serve an exponentially high demand.”
Christmas season or not, the demand for more transport modes has been recognized by government which, through several departments, is working hard to address the need.
Among the solutions rolled out by the Department of Transportation are additional infrastructure, all ongoing at a fierce pace.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also relaunched the rehabilitated Pasig River ferry service, increasing its fleet to serve more commuters wanting to escape the road traffic in the metro.
The Pasig ferry service covers Manila to Pasig, which means the cooperation of both cities now headed by young visionaries Mayors Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Vico Sotto of Manila and Pasig, respectively.
Currently, the ferry offers free rides to entice commuters to try the service instead of public utility in congested Metro Manila roads.
Information reveals that the ferry transport system, launched in 2014, has “11 stations spanning the 25-kilometer Pasig River: Escolta, Lawton, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Ana and Lambingan stations in Manila; Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin and Maybunga stations in Pasig; Valenzuela and Guadalupe stations in Makati and Hulo station in Mandaluyong.”
It can reportedly accommodate up to 14,000 passengers, significant in helping decongest traffic along EDSA and other major thoroughfares.
Of course, the river itself has to rehabilitated, which is among the current goals of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under Secretary Roy Cimatu.
If all goes according to plan, commuters can take this alternative mode of transport with ease and comfort in a short time without taking a bus, jeep or the Light Rail Transit.
Issues notwithstanding, bringing Pasig River to life is part and parcel of the dream to revitalize our waterways for additional transport systems.
To consolidate efforts, the Palace abolished the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, whereby under Executive Order 93, the former commission’s functions, including “all necessary and incidental powers,” were transferred to the Manila Bay Task Force, DENR, MMDA, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Within the next two years, Santa may just have kicked the traffic Grinch for good.