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How about even-numbered cars on even-numbered hours?

TRAFFIC remains the principal problem in Metro Manila. There has been some improvement in some areas but so much more needs to be done and the Metro Manila Development Committee met on this problem now that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has a new chairman in retired General Danilo Lim.

At the meeting, former Manila Mayor now Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza warned against a proposal to expand the number-coding scheme so that private vehicles would be banned from using major Metro roads twice a week – instead of the present once a week. “Don’t punish the ordinary car owner,” he urged, calling instead for action on the major causes of the problem, including non-enforcement of traffic regulations and the unabated operation of colorum buses.

The ongoing number coding scheme bans private cars from Metro streets once a week. On that day, the car owner cannot use the car to bring the children to school or to go to the office, as the car is banned the entire day. Rich people solved their problem by buying another car with another plate number, thus adding to the vehicles in the area.

There are other possible solutions that could be tried – banning even-numbered cars from even-numbered hours, for example, perhaps with 10-minute allowance before or after. This variation of the number-coding system would have the effect of halving Metro traffic at all times of the day; the car owners just have to adjust their schedules, perhaps going to the office an hour early.

There could be other variations that would not totally ban private cars from Metro streets the whole day. One variation could be even-numbered cars in the morning and odd-numbered cars in the afternoon. The system could be tried only on certain major streets like EDSA, Quezon Ave. and Quezon Boulevard, España, Taft, and Roxas.

Over the years, many suggestions have been made to improve Metro traffic, including clearing the sidewalks and streets of illegally parked vehicles and other, more permanent, obstructions; rushing the completion of the skyways such as the big one connecting the North and South Expressways; and increasing the capacities of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT).

Every little move counts. Even without the emergency powers that the Department of Transportation is asking from a reluctant Congress, the totality of all these small moves should help improve Metro traffic until more permanent solutions – perhaps an expanded road network under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program – can be found and carried out.