"The traffic problem is much, much bigger."
Traffic on EDSA is now at its worst that even the House of Representatives has to help find a solution.
Earlier in the week, Transportation Committee Chair Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said his panel is now conducting a series of consultations with all transportation stakeholders to be able to draw up a solid and viable one-year roadmap to finally solve the traffic problem along EDSA.
Sarmiento said EDSA’s traffic problem is causing too much economic losses for the government and for our people on a daily basis. The National Economic and Development Authority estimates the country is losing at least P3.5 billion a day due to the traffic problem.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the volume of vehicles on EDSA. For us to attain it, the collective effort of the executive, legislative, judiciary and the private sector is needed, Sarmiento said.
One proposal is, according to the lawmaker, to seriously look at proposals to consolidate the franchise of all Metro Manila bus companies for us to enable to apply a synchronized dispatch system on EDSA.
With about 3,000 to 4,000 buses operating in Metro Manila (excluding the colorum which is about the same number as the legitimate ones), they have to compete with each other most of the time, especially during off peak hours. Their load factor is less than 50 percent which makes them inefficient in the use of road space.
Aside from consolidating bus operations under a franchise, Sarmiento says they are also looking into doing away with the boundary system.
As drivers today operate on a boundary basis, putting them on regular salary, according to Sarmiento, will assure us of better service. Loaded or not, they will have to run as there will be no more need for competition.
Also part of the possible roadmap, Sarmiento said, is the modernization of the fare collection system of all city buses. The manual system of collecting fares and issuing tickets is too inefficient and prone to systems loss. It also causing a delay in the transition of buses in loading and unloading zones.
But because of current multiple operators, it is not cost effective to have a tap-card system in place for our fare collection. If we have consolidated operations, then we will have enough volume to have that system.
“Under single super franchise comprising of existing franchises, it is also cost- inefficient for them (bus operators) to have fleet maintenance systems. Having that big of a franchise will enable operators to get big discount purchases on bus units and even fuel,” Sarmiento said.
Sounds feasible. But as what we have learned from MMDA’s experiment along EDSA last week, if we are to come up with a traffic solution, it should not be limited to EDSA
EDSA is one of the major arteries in our road network. To declog the main artery and just leave the tributaries as they are would only transfer the flak to other areas, giving the same result—a still clogged network.
And that was what happened last week. MMDA tried to unclog EDSA which resulted into heavy traffic spilling over to other roads connected to EDSA, including the eight- to ten-lane Commonwealth Avenue.
Sarmiento is on the right track. It’s good of him to start looking for solutions unlike the female senator in the other chamber whose pasttime is looking for things to criticize and starting investigations without coming up with any committee report and recommendation.
But we should not just concentrate on EDSA. We should look at the traffic problem from a holistic perspective.