About 3,000 motorists were caught during the first day of the dry run for the new policy prohibiting single-driver vehicles along Edsa during rush hours, a program that senators assailed for being implemented without public consultation.
Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. said the flow of traffic along Edsa slightly improved during the Expanded High Occupancy Vehicle hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Garcia said 2,059 violators have been monitored through closed-circuit television cameras and handheld cameras.
“No penalty will be imposed against these violators. Still, we are calling on the motorists to observe the policy,” said Garcia during a news briefing held at MMDA headquarters.
The week-long dry run activity of the Expanded HOV Traffic Scheme covers all lanes of Edsa, from North Edsa in Quezon City to Magallanes in Makati City. Driver-only vehicles are also barred from traversing the same portion of Edsa from 6 pm to 9 pm Monday to Friday.
Garcia reiterated that the new policy is aimed at encouraging motorists to share rides or carpool, thereby, reducing the volume of vehicles along EDSA during rush hours.
“We are not encouraging people to share a ride with a stranger but with their family, neighbors, community,” Garcia said.
The MMDA targets to fully implement the traffic scheme on Aug. 23. However, Garcia said it is still too early to assess the impact of Expanded HOV Traffic Scheme on the major artery.
“We still have to check if our CCTV cameras can handle monitoring at nighttime,” said Garcia, noting that dry run period will continue until Aug. 22.
Garcia admitted that it is a big challenge for the Metrobase personnel to view heavily tinted windshields through CCTV cameras.
He said 156 heavily tinted vehicles traveled along EDSA during the coverage period.
Garcia said they are now working to address this concern with the Land Transportation Office, which has said it would announce regulations on car tints.
Once the regulations are out, motorists must modify their car tints to comply with the requirements, said LTO Enforcement Services Director Francis Almora.
“No motor vehicle will be registered with LTO with heavily-tinted [windows],” he said.
But Garcia said they are also considering buying thermal cameras to catch violators.
Senators assailed the driver-only ban, however, and urged the MMDA to immediately suspend its implementation.
Senate Resolution No. 845 authored by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon along with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, and Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, said the controversial scheme, which will ban driver-only cars along Edsa during peak hours, was set in place without public consultation and due process.
The resolution strongly urges the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA to conduct public consultations, further study the ‘driver-only’ ban, and provide for real solutions to Metro Manila traffic congestion.”
“The implementation of a regulation that would allegedly affect seventy percent [70%] of the motor vehicles plying and enjoying the use of the Philippines’ major thoroughfare without holding a prior public consultation or hearing is violative of the due process of laws enshrined and protected under the Constitution,” the resolution states.
The resolution pointed out that the driver-only ban of the MMDA would effectively deprive thousands of people of the use of the country’s major thoroughfare since it would be in effect during the working and commuting hours of the week.
It added that experts and citizens alike protest, criticize and doubt the success of HOV regulations in easing traffic congestion “in the absence of safe and reliable alternative means of transportation, and lack of uncongested vehicular road routes.”
“Transportation experts, including University of the Philippines Planning and Development Research Foundation Primitivo Cal, warned that such piecemeal or band-aid measure could even worsen traffic congestion as it could encourage the proliferation of unauthorized “for-hire” vehicles, as shown by the recently scrapped Indonesian model,” according to the resolution.
The resolution also noted that in Indonesia, along with US and Canada where HOV lanes have been implemented, the scheme has been criticized as “ineffective and counterproductive in addressing traffic congestion.” It was reported that Indonesia has already recalled its HOV policy.
It added that other jurisdictions provide for incentives for HOVs instead of imposing a total ban for driver-only vehicles.
“Transportation research shows that an HOV regulation, whose main objective is to encourage carpooling, will not eliminate congestion as it is proven that it is not always more effective than general purpose lanes,” it says.
Senator Grace Poe said the MMDA should wait and see what effect banning provincial buses on Edsa during rush hours has on traffic before banning single-passenger vehicles.
Earlier, the chair of the Senate committee on public services said that 70 percent of motorists on Edsa during rush hours—7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.—will be inconvenienced by the single-passenger vehicle ban.
“They are probably the working solo parents, parents who have to drop their kids along their way to work, spouses who live in the same city but work in different cities, young professionals or workers who cannot afford to hire their own drivers and yet are required to be on time in their offices,” Poe said in a press statement.
Poe said that countries where single-occupant vehicles are banned only choose one lane for the scheme and had accessible side roads clear of illegal parking with coordination between traffic enforcers and local government units.
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