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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

TomTom traffic survey

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“A professionally manned and competent MMDA, after all, is half the battle won”

The MMDA Chairman should have refrained from commenting extensively on the recent TomTom worldwide traffic survey wherein Metro Manila came out as the most congested Metro area in the world.

It just invited more scrutiny to the way traffic is being managed in the National Capital Region. Questioning the methodology used in the survey will not help either.

He should question the results only if a different methodology was used for the NCR.

But since the same methodology was used in all the cities surveyed and Metro Manila still came out the way it did, he should just have left it at that.

The public also should not be so roiled because it is just one survey. It is not as if it is the gospel truth of all traffic studies.

The kind of public reaction displayed could probably have been avoided if MMDA has an in-house capability to come out with its own regular traffic studies.

Quarterly traffic bulletins, for instance, would be helpful.

Problem is, it does not have and relies mainly on the regular traffic surveys by Japan’s JICA.

The Chairman, for example, alluded to the capacity of Edsa having been breached already.

According to him, 400,000 thousand vehicles are using the road versus the 300,000 capacity.

But how did MMDA arrive at the numbers 300,000 and 400,000?

And is the 300,000 figure the overall capacity for both North and South lanes?

Or just one lane?

My own capacity calculations for both lanes are different.

Maybe he should have explained how he arrived at the figures for better understanding.

A reference was also made of the thousands of vehicles entering the Metro area but nothing was mentioned about the thousands of vehicles leaving the NCR.

MMDA should have figures to indicate whether there are more vehicles coming in than those leaving if he wanted to convey the message that the vehicles coming in are also causing travel time to slow down.

The 10,000 kms of road in the NCR also needs clarification.

Per DPWH records, public roads in the Metro area the last time I checked which was not too long ago was something like 5,800 kms more or less.

What the Chairman must have meant, therefore, was including private roads which are restricted to residents only.

This is important because from these figures, the density or vehicle to road ratio can be calculated which can give us an idea whether the congestion figures of tom-tom are accurate.

A lot more were said by the Chairman to explain the current traffic situation in the NCR which were nothing new.

What the public would prefer, however, is action and results.

When I first came across the traffic study, I thought the 25-minute travel time per 10 kilometers was not really all that bad for the whole Metro area.

Unfortunately, it is the slowest among the Metro areas surveyed.

If it is any consolation, I do not believe the NCR is the most congested city in the world.

There are a few Metro areas more congested than the NCR.

If MMDA does not accept the tom-tom survey findings, then I suggest it should conduct its own traffic study to disprove the findings.

It should be relatively easy to devise a simple study to find out the average travel time in the NCR. But can it do it without having to rely on JICA?

As I have said in many previous articles, traffic management is a very dynamic activity.

It is also complicated even for technically trained traffic managers and personnel.

That is why it is important to have traffic managers who understand the relationship between transportation and land use because that is what traffic management is all about.

It would also help if the MMDA is organized, trained, and equipped to perform its assigned mission and functions.

With all that or part of it fulfilled, the public will have the confidence that the MMDA can improve travel time even under very trying conditions because that is its very reason for being.

A professionally manned and competent MMDA, after all, is half the battle won.

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