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Metro traffic madness

There’s a new man at the helm of the Metro Manila Development Authority. But whether he can solve the monstrous traffic problem of the metropolis remains a big question mark.

Retired Brig. General Danilo Lim comes with all the credentials needed for the job. He is a Philippine Military Academy graduate . He also attended West Point in the US and trained at Fort Benning in Georgia. But he is best remembered for his role in the attempted coup d’etat against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Imprisoned at Camp Crame from 2006 to 2010, he was later pardoned.

While Lim has the credentials for the MMDA job, the awesome task of taming the Metro’s traffic madness might need more than sterling qualifications.

Among those who want Lim to succeed is Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza. The former three-term Manila mayor said he sat down with Lim recently and poured out his frustrations on how Lim’s predecessors at the MMDA squandered solutions that could have at least alleviated the worsening traffic woes.

Lim listened to Lito but whether he would implement measures to ease the urban traffic problem is another thing. For one, the perennial problem should also be coordinated with the Department of Transportation which has supervision over the dysfunctional Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit .

“Adding another day in the number coding scheme is not the solution. People who can afford it will just buy another car adding to the volume of vehicles on the road, ” said Atienza as he pointed out the reason for the increase every year in the number of vehicles.

Without a viable and efficient mass public transportation system, our roads will continue to be clogged with vehicles as commuters seek alternatives of getting to work and school. Without a working public transport system, the traffic problem can only get worse. The proliferation of provincial buses plying Metro Manila’s main roads contribute to the choked flow of traffic.

Atienza said he cannot understand why the LTRFB and the LTO continue to allow the buses to clog Edsa even as their operators put up bus terminals inside the Metro Manila. These bus terminals should only be located at the city boundaries . One, at the corner of Taft Avenue and Buendia, serves as the terminal for southern Luzon buses often resulting resulting in gridlock in the area.

While Atienza conceded that what he is saying is nothing new, he said the problem is that the LTFRB and LTO continue to issue franchises to buses, Uber and Grab taxis. Hmm. Why?

Atienza does not want to imply any collusion between bus operators and LTFRB, LTO officials, But this is something commuters and motorists talk about in whispers even as they cope with the daily grind of Metro Manila’s traffic madness.

The Duterte administration is embarking on a massive Build, Build Build infrastructure program to add more roads, skyways and bridges. But at the same time, the car dealers continue to make money as they sell, sell, sell. The result is that the volume of vehicles outpace the opening of new roads.

Is a staggered working hours or a four-day work week the solution? That may be difficult to implement as that would depend on companies and commercial establishments whose productivity might be affected.

Enforcing traffic rules to solve the problem would need the cooperation of local governments in Metro Manila. Lim has to seek the cooperation of city mayors in clearing alternate streets from being used as parking space or basketball courts Atienza also suggests the construction of two more bridges under the government’s Build Build Build program. He laments motorists’ mindset that the only way to get from Quezon City, Pasig , Mandaluyong and San Juan to Makati is over the Guadalupe Bridge along Edsa.

“Metro Manila mayors must look beyond their parochial interests. Perhaps a return to the Metro Manila governing council conceptualized by former first lady and Metro Manila governor Imelda Marcos might be the answer, said Atienza as he cites the need to coordinate the management of interlocking traffic flows within cities.

Does that sound like the former Manila mayor is looking at a return to local politics ? That, he said is a little far off as he still has two years as Buhay Party-List representative in Congress. But since Lito did not totally rule it out, another run as Manila mayor is in the realm of the possible.

Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is 80 and at that age the complexities and challenges of running a city could be more than he can handle.

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , Metro traffic madness , Metro Manila Development Authority , MMDA , Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza
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