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Too many vehicles, only one EDSA

AN Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (IACT) met last week on possible moves that can be taken to ease the traffic while the Department of Transportation (DoTr) waits for the special powers it is asking from Congress to enable it to draw up a comprehensive solution to the problem.

The IACT, with representatives from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the DoTr, the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) focused on EDSA in their meeting and summed up the problem thus: There is just one EDSA for too many vehicles.

The MMDA said that a daily average of 322,936 vehicles passed through EDSA in 2010, increasing to 360,417 by 2014.

Eighty-percent of the vehicles were private cars. More recent statistics were announced by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and the Truck Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc., in a joint monthly report for August: Sales for the month jumped 40 percent from 23,181 units in August last year to 32,472 units for August this year. With consistent increases in monthly sales, the two organizations said they expect sales of 370,000 units by the end of 2016.

A substantial number of these additional vehicles are bound to join the EDSA traffic, so that whatever problem we now have will be growing with each month. As the IACT noted, there are so many vehicles but only one EDSA. The council is now studying various ways to ease EDSA traffic, including a total ban on parking along the highway and nearby roads, closure of some U-turn slots, and a more efficient ticketing system for violations.

The proposal for special powers sought by the DoTr is still in the Senate, after which the House will have its turn in studying it. It is said to be a rather complicated proposal that includes funding for various aspects of the big plan, totaling R1.15 trillion. The biggest amounts are needed for major projects like airports and subways.

As Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade once said, pending congressional action on its detailed proposal, the department and other offices concerned should focus on what can be done NOW for Metro Manila’s traffic. That can be further narrowed down to EDSA. Concentrate on EDSA now. The rest of area can benefit later from the wider program when Congress approves the special powers sought by the administration.