The year-end report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and the Truck Manufacturers Association said 425,673 units were sold in 2017. This was 18.4 percent higher than the number of vehicles sold in 2016.
We welcome this growth as a sign of our healthy economy. The 286,249 commercial vehicles – trucks and buses – sold in 2017 will further the growth of businesses in the country, while the 139,424 cars indicate a growing prosperity enjoyed by people in the middle class.
At the same time, however, we cannot avoid the implications of this good economic news for a problem that has long plagued Metro Manila — the traffic jams that have made traveling around the area a major ordeal. For most of the thousands of trucks and cars sold last year will now be added to the traffic load in the Metro region.
There has been some improvement lately, with the closure of some provincial bus terminals on busy Epifanio de los Santos Ave., the assignment of special lanes for motorcycles, the steady retirement of old jeepneys, and stricter enforcement of traffic rules. But the effort to speed up traffic in Metro Manila still has a long way to go.
With the constant and inevitable increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, the only viable solution is an increase in the space available for traffic. The government is now acting on this with several road and rail projects, under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
Meanwhile, work has begun on a new Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line from Quezon City’s North Avenue to San Juan del Monte in Bulacan. This new project and the ongoing repairs on many roads in the area are bound to worsen traffic but the promise is that that work will be rushed – unlike so many previous projects that have remained unfinished to this day.
One of these long-unfinished projects is the connecting elevated highway between the North Expressway and the South Expressway. When this is finally done and the new projects – including a subway from QC to Taguig City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City – are completed, Metro Manila should have a transport system we can all be proud of.
We will have to accept the fact that the traffic situation will very likely get worse before it gets better. This should help motorists endure the traffic with a little more patience, a little more understanding. For our economy is moving forward and building of roads and other infrastructure continues as part of that growing economy.