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Group rejects placing Metro Manila under “state of calamity” because of traffic

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An urban planners group advocating for sustainable transportation solutions acknowledged the seriousness of traffic problems in Metro Manila, but it does not agree with the proposal of putting it under state of calamity.

In a statement released on Monday, March 25, the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners-National Capital Region chapter (PIEP-NCR) recommended instead a more comprehensive approach to address the issue.

According to Jayson Edward San Juan, president of PIEP-NCR, what Metro Manila needs is a strategic and integrated metropolitan land and water use plan (MLWUP), not emergency measures that would require a traffic czar.

“While the traffic congestion in Metro Manila presents significant challenges, declaring a state of calamity or appointing a traffic czar is not the solution. These approaches are merely band-aid solutions that do not address the underlying causes of our traffic woes,” he said.

To elaborate, San Juan laid down the following suggestions that focus on long-term improvements in the system than temporary relief:

1. Enhancing public transportation. Improving the efficiency, reliability, and coverage of public transport systems to encourage more people to opt for mass transit options over private vehicles. San Juan calls for the expansion of the EDSA Bus Carousel, and the opening of new exclusive bus lanes and carousels in other major roads like Commonwealth Avenue, and C5 Road, among others.

2. Developing active mobility. Investing in infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians, such as usable and protected bike lanes and safe walkways, to promote healthier and more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. This includes widening pedestrian walkways and planting trees for shade to encourage walking.

3. Implementing traffic demand management. Introducing policies such as congestion pricing, parking management, and carpooling incentives to manage and reduce traffic demand effectively.

4. Intelligent traffic management systems. The adoption of smart traffic management systems that use data analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize traffic flow and signal timings is also among the recommended strategies.

5. Public participation and behavioral change. San Juan calls for campaigns to encourage public participation in traffic management and to foster a shift towards more sustainable transportation habits.

PIEP-NCR also highlighted the importance of community involvement and public-private partnerships in addressing the traffic crisis.

“Collaboration is key. By working together with the government, private sector, and the community, we can develop and implement sustainable solutions that will not only alleviate the current traffic congestion, but also contribute to the long-term livability and sustainability of Metro Manila,” San Juan said.

PIEP-NCR issued the statement in response to the recent proposal of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) to declare a “state of calamity” in Metro Manila because of the estimated P3.5-billion daily economic losses due to heavy traffic.  

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