"Imagine the traffic that would be caused by the construction."
It certainly looks like San Miguel’s Ramon Ang was dead serious when he said that the company would build an elevated freeway along EDSA to solve the traffic congestion.
Ang is now going to submit an unsolicited proposal for a $3-billion elevated toll road that will start somewhere along Macapagal Avenue and end somewhere in Balintawak. He went on to say that Secretary Arthur Tugade of the DOTr seems interested.
I do hope that Secretary Tugade and his planning staff will have the sense to reject the proposal.
At first glance, the proposal looks like a spectacular idea. Upon closer examination, it is not. There is no questioning the motivation of San Miguel on the proposed elevated freeway. I am sure that the company simply wants to solve a serious traffic problem. But constructing an elevated freeway along EDSA will create so many problems. If allowed to do so, the congestion along EDSA will worsen for the next several years due to the construction. The freeway will also force all motorists to go through one corridor whether at grade level or up. The thing that should be done is to spread the road system in an urban sprawl so that motorists will be given choices on which road to use instead of them being forced to use one road corridor.
San Miguel is already very busy with the Skyway project that will eventually connect NLEX and SLEX. The company should simply fast-track the completion of the connector road and then see what happens. The Skyway should be able to absorb a sizable portion of the EDSA traffic, thereby easing the congestion along EDSA. The reason for this, even if no survey or study has been conducted on this aspect, is that the skyway will be able to provide a choice for the motorists on which road to take going south or north. This option is not available now.
It’s all about having choices and the Skyway, when completed, will be able to provide that. The problem now is a dearth of ideas coming from our government traffic and transportation managers. They seem to be clutching at every idea thrown to them—like cable cars, a specialized type of transport system and not ideal as a mass transport mode.
The MMDA should also look at pushing through with its plan to transfer the bus stations out of EDSA, but not insist on the use of the two so-called integrated bus terminals in Valenzuela City and Santa Rosa, Laguna. The MMDA planners should put it in their heads that requiring provincial bus passengers to get off in these two bus stations to be picked up by buses and jeepneys is not going to solve the traffic problem. It will just add more vehicles on the road—which will worsen traffic congestion. It would be all right if these two bus terminals will be connected by rail, but this is not the case. This is so elementary that it is difficult to see why the MMDA is insisting on what it wants. In the meantime, the agency should use the time before the completion of the Skyway to start planning on where to distribute the bus stations throughout the metro area to lessen the impact of the transfer on provincial bus passengers.
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Militant jeepney associations are bent on scuttling the government plan to phase out old jeepneys which are 15 years old or older. From the way the jeepney leaders were talking to the media during the recent strike, they implied that they can paralyze urban transportation throughout the country if they wanted.
Many local government units were indeed forced to cancel classes and thousands of people using jeepneys to go to work were unable to take a ride or had to wait for hours. But if the intention of the strike was to force the government to abandon the phaseout of old jeepneys, they failed miserably because the government is standing ground and will go ahead with the program. The old refrain of the miltant jeepney associations is that the cost of replacing the old jeepneys is too expensive which individual operators cannot afford. But this cannot be the only reason because the program have been embraced by other operators already.
There must be other reasons that the militant association leaders do not want to admit. One reason is that the replacement program maybe a threat to their organization because operators will have to form cooperatives or companies, in which case there would be no need for associations like what they have now. They should realize that the jeepney as it is operated in this day and age is anachronistic to modernity.
These associations should instead sit down with the government so that their concerns can be addressed. Maybe a solution can be found. Ordinarily, it is the responsibility of the government to provide public transportation but in this country, anyone can go to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to get a permit to operate a public transport. With public transportation in the hands of private companies, operators can threaten the government every time they do not like what the government wants to do. Maybe this is one issue that Congress should study whether transportation in highly urbanized cities should now be taken over by government when it considers granting emergency powers to the government. We are perhaps the only country in the world whose public transportation is not operated by government in its capital city. Most of the capital cities around the world have public transportation operated by government.