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We continue to wait for traffic solutions

THE administration has made it clear that without the special powers it seeks from Congress, the traffic problem in Metro Manila, especially along Epifanio Delos Santos Ave. (EDSA) will remain unsolved.

But Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) has also assured that in the meantime, it will undertake whatever measures it can to ease the traffic even just a little. There are indeed times when traffic is better than at other times, but much more needs to be done. And the officials concerned should consider very seriously some of the suggestions being made by so many people.

Three suggestions were made the other day by Buhay Representative and House Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza, a former mayor of Manila who spent years grappling with Manila’s traffic during his city administration.

First, he said, EDSA is perennially clogged because of the many colorum and provincial buses that use it. These unauthorized vehicles sometimes occupy lanes reserved for other vehicles. Long lines of them, many with few passengers, may be seen at any time, especially at Cubao in Quezon City, a perennially jammed area.

Second, there is indeed a plan to divert EDSA traffic to side streets, but many of these side streets are blocked by illegally parked vehicles, including stalled and abandoned ones. So many vehicle owners in Metro Manila do not have garages inside their lots, so they leave their vehicles out on the streets.

Third, too many traffic enforcers do not make arrests when they should. Except, Atienza noted, in some cities like San Juan, Mandaluyong, and Makati where the enforcers are doing their jobs all through the night and in the rain.

These problems just need stricter enforcement of already established laws, rules, and regulations. There would be no need, he said, for a so-called “congestion fee” which the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is thinking of imposing on motorists using EDSA during the rush hours.

We continue to wait for the special powers which Transportation Secretary Tugade has asked Congress to approve, which would be needed to make a comprehensive program to make needed reforms in established systems to ease the traffic problem not only in Metro Manila but also in Cebu and other urban centers in the country which are rapidly getting congested.

But, in the meantime, we must do what we can under the circumstances that we have today. The MMDA and the DoTr can start with the observations and suggestions made by former Manila Mayor, now Congressman Atienza.