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THE Christmas season is well underway and inevitably traffic has worsened in Metro Manila. There had been hope that the new officials of the new administration would somehow find a way to ease the problem, but they are still waiting for the emergency powers that would enable them to speed up processes – such as bidding for new projects – that normally take lot of time.
In the meantime, there are some efforts at absorbing some of the heavy traffic by providing alternative means of transportation to Metro residents. The Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (IACT) launched last Friday a shuttle service for passengers of the Pasig River Ferry System. Ferry passengers getting off at the Guadalupe and Escolta stations will now have connecting bus rides to commercial and office centers in Taguig and Manila, respectively.
The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) which runs along Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) has increased the number of trains and cars running along the 16.9-kilometer route. Such is the demand for its services, however, that there are still long queues during peak hours. The repair and rehabilitation of its old cars and fielding of more trains must continue.
The IACT may find merit in some proposals and suggestions from various sectors and possibly apply them, as far as is possible under present circumstances, while there are yet no emergency powers. One proposal, for example, is the outright removal of all colorum buses from city traffic. Another is allowing buses to load and unload only at specified stations, no longer stopping along the route to accommodate passengers getting on or off. Another is an outright ban on private cars from EDSA during the rush hours in the morning and in the evening.
The work on the elevated highway connected the North Expressway to the South Expressway seems to be proceeding too slowly. It has been reported that work on some sections is being held back by squatter communities blocking the right of way.
Now that we have the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic, we can have a more systematic approach to the Metro traffic problem. It may take some time before it can come up with a long-range comprehensive traffic plan but what it can possibly do, it must do now. The many suggestions coming from various sources be studied and – if found practicable – carried out.
Six months into the new administration, we had to see some improvement in Metro Manila’s traffic. We continue to hope and we will know – with just one look at the traffic – if finally the traffic planners have succeeded.