Truck ban returns

Starting Sept. 15, no deliveries from 6-10 a.m.

A Palace official on Saturday said that the Metro Manila Development Authority has released a new traffic scheme including a truck ban that would help ease the traffic woes in the metropolis.

Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said that starting Sept.15, provincial buses will no longer be allowed to enter the Edsa underpass and instead should stay in the yellow lane that the MMDA has designated.

Aside from the provincial buses, container trucks will not also be allowed to make their deliveries to different provinces during rush hours, specifically from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. everyday except Sundays and holidays.

“This will take effect immediately,” Valte said in a radio interview over state-owned Radyo ng Bayan.

Tough nut to crack. Despite criticism from the business community, the government said it will reimpose a truck ban in Metro Manila because of the worsening traffic situation. File photo shows the congestion last February, a day after Manila lifted the truck ban it had earlier imposed. 
The MMDA,  however, would  still allow  northbound container trucks to make their deliveries 24 hours a day subject to “several prohibited dates.”

“We are helping out MMDA in disseminating this information so it would be easier for them to implement [this new traffic scheme immediately]” she added.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III has designated Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras to head an inter-agency task force that would coordinate government actions to solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

Last year, the MMDA has reimplemented the truck ban along major thoroughfares of Roxas Boulevard, which the business sector said resulted in a  30-percent loss in the movement of goods.

The business sector also claimed that it dramatically lowered the efficiency of trade to and from the port, prompting the MMDA to lift the truck ban.

Valte noted that the new truck ban is just a “reimplementation” to decongest the roads of vehicles traveling through major roads in the metropolis.

There are some 6,000 trucks that deliver goods and pass through major thoroughfares in the metropolis  everyday.

As this developed, the chief of the PNP-Highway Patrol Group said that aside from strict enforcement of traffic laws, discipline and road courtesy remain as major factors in resolving the traffic woes in the metropolis.

The PNP-HPG has officially assumed the traffic management in Metro Manila, specifically in Edsa, starting last week.

PNP-HPG chief Arnold Gunnacao also noted that while there are unruly bus drivers who may be blamed for the traffic congestion,  there are also undisciplined private vehicle owners.

Gunnacao said some private car drivers wanted to go  ahead of other drivers, a factor which has contributed  to traffic congestion.

“That’s one of the reasons why traffic congestion occurs because they want to be ahead of others causing bottleneck because of their habitual style of driving,” he said.

HPG personnel posted in  six choke points along Edsa, had observed that some car drivers  drive recklessly,  which resulted in the arrest of 271 traffic violators, most of which involved private vehicles.

Based on its initial traffic assessment,  the PNP-HPG said that private vehicles often swerve in and out of lanes which contributes to road congestion and accidents.

HPG manning key areas along Edsa also reported that private vehicles consistently violate existing traffic schemes particularly the no-access to yellow lanes that has been exclusively assigned to public utility vehicles.

“Drivers of private cars continue to pass the yellow lanes assigned only to buses,” an HPG enforcer posted at the approach of Ortigas Avenue said, who did not want to be identified.

Gunnacao vowed to enforce strict traffic laws starting on Monday,  not only in Edsa but also on other “feeder roads.”

But he claimed that the traffic along Edsa has dramatically improved since the deployment of HPG personnel and the mplementation of the new traffic schemes.

Gunnacao said more HPG personnel will be deployed along  Edsa and its periphery to ensure smooth traffic flow,  and added that they will continue to instill discipline and arrest those who will violate the traffic laws.

Meanwhile, officials and members of the Automobile Association Philippines expressed their support to the proposed carpooling scheme to ease traffic along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, but suggested that the government should first lift ts number coding scheme.

The carpooling proposal came from Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson during a recent cabinet meeting.

Singson said the government is seriously considering banning cars with fewer than three passengers during peak hours, from 7 to 10 in the morning, and 5 to 8 in the evening along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue.

“Only those who carpool with at least three passengers will be allowed to use Edsa,” he said.

The AAP supported the plan but suggested the government must removed the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, or the number coding scheme.

Under the number coding scheme, vehicles are banned from major roads in Metro Manila from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., depending on the last digit of their license plates.

“While we agree with the DPWH’s plan to ban vehicles carrying less than three passengers in order to encourage carpooling, the government should lift the number-coding scheme so as to give consideration to those motorists who follow this system,” said AAP president and former Elections commissioner Augusto Lagman in a statement to Topgear.

He said ride-sharing has benefits because it would not only result in less traffic along Edsa but would also cut pollution and promote carpooling.

The group said the government must also remove and clear all arterial roads of obstructions such as sidewalk vendors and parked vehicles so that alternate routes may be open to motorists who do not have enough passengers riding with them.

“The proposed rule by itself would not solve the present traffic crisis, but we commend the DPWH leadership for considering other solutions such as flexible or different working hours for private and government offices,” said Lagman.

The MMDA recently launched a mobile application allowing carpooling among friends in the social media or people living within the same area and going to a common destination.

The mobile app “Friend Trip” is a free gadget application which will allow Facebook users and those living within the same street, village, subdivision or compound to travel as a group. The project aimed to help ease traffic congestion and curb pollution  in Metro Manila.

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the volume of cars and other private vehicles in major roads will surely be reduced if motorists and commuters will make use of the mobile app.

He said the Friend Trip application only recognizes one’s Facebook friends so that he/she never has to ride with strangers. He added the application gives an option to users to have the MMDA record all their trips.

The MMDA is also considering giving incentives such as exemption from number coding scheme or extending window hours to drivers who would frequently use the new mobile application.

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