Local government officials expressed satisfaction with the slight improvement of traffic on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue following the suspension of the so-called window hours for private vehicles in the number coding scheme.
Among the improvements, based on the initial assessment of the Metro Manila Development, was cutting the travel time of motorists by at least 10 to 15 minutes and compliance of private motorists with road traffic rules and courtesy along the 23.8-kilometer highway.
Based on the MMDA study of travel speed along Edsa on October 5, the vehicles’ average speed was 15.84 kilometers per hour from Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City and vice versa, with an average travel time of one hour, 27 minutes and 27 seconds.
On the next day, October 6, vehicles plying the same route had an average speed of 15.91 kph and travel time of one hour, 27 minutes and one second.
On October 7, the average travel speed was 14.63 kph with travel time of 1 hour, 34 minutes, and 38 seconds.
However, during the first day of the trial run activity of the “window hours” suspension on October 12, the average travel time of vehicles traversing the same route was an hour, 16 minutes and 32 seconds or a decrease of 10 minutes and 55 seconds, the MMDA stated.
It added that the travel speed also improved, with vehicles traveling at 18.09 kph or an increase of 2.25 kph.
On October 13, the travel time along Edsa—to and from Roxas Boulevard and Monumento— decreased by an average of 21 minutes and 17 seconds while the travel speed increased by an average of 5.16 kph.
“Considering the study done during the trial run of the No Window Hours, we expect that the numbers will improve more in the following days,” said MMDA officer-in-charge Thomas Orbos.
With this improvement, Orbos said, members of the Metro Manila Council, the policy-making body of the MMDA, agreed to extend the window hour suspension to one hour from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
The MMC, which composed of the 17 mayors in Metro Manila, also signed a resolution expanding the coverage of the traffic scheme to at least 15 main roads, most of them circumferential and radial roads.
“Because they realized the [positive] effect of no window, they agreed to come up with the scheme covering the national roads, circumferential roads and radial areas,” said Orbos.
The 15 main roads are Rizal Avenue, Claro M. Recto Avenue, Taft Avenue, Del Pan Street, President Quirino Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Marcos Highway, MacArthur Highway, Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, Magsaysay Boulevard, Aurora Boulevard, A. Bonifacio Avenue and South Luzon Expressway.
The MMC initially approved that the areas covered by the scheme are EDSA, Circumferential Road-5 (C-5 Road), Alabang-Zapote Road, Roxas Boulevard, and in the cities of Mandaluyong, Makati, and Las Piñas.
More than 3,000 drivers were apprehended and warned during the three-day dry run.
The MMDA official also urges the motoring public to cooperate and comply with the government agencies’ initiatives and measures in the following months to ease the traffic situation in Metro Manila.
The Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, or the number coding scheme, was devised to keep vehicles out of major thoroughfares on certain days based on the last digit of the license plate.
The system corresponds to 1 and 2 for Monday, 3 and 4 for Tuesday, 5 and 6 for Wednesday, 7 and 8 for Thursday, and 9 and 0 for Friday.
The window hours refer to the five-hour (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) period, but removing this means the vehicles covered by the Number Coding Scheme may not pass Edsa and other major thoroughfares.
The suspension of no window hour, which was fully implemented last Monday until January next year, was the idea of the Interagency Council on Traffic (I-ACT), wherein the MMDA is also a member, to address the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis, especially during the holiday season.
Violators are penalized with P300 and be given citation tickets.
Removing the window, according to I-ACT, will reduce the number of vehicles on Metro Manila’s roads by about 20 percent.
I-ACT officials led by Police-Highway Patrol Group commander Antonio Gardiola Jr. advised private motorists to be affected by the scheme to use the 17 Mabuhay Lanes as alternate routes to avoid apprehension.
The Mabuhay Lanes is now the subject of an intensified campaign by the composite team to clear the roads of illegally parked vehicles and other road obstacles such as basketball courts, illegal vendors and illegal terminal.
The 17 Mabuhay Lanes are alternative routes to Edsa. These cover the cities of Mandaluyong, San Juan, Makati, Manila, and Quezon City. It also include secondary roads going to shopping destinations in Metro Manila such as Baclaran in Parañaque, Greenhills in San Juan, Divisoria, and Carriedo in Manila.
The government has so far apprehended more than 6,000 illegally parked vehicles all over Metro Manila since July.
Orbos said the I-ACT still needed adjustment to enforce the policy, particularly on Edsa, and among them was the opening of secondary streets linked to the 23.8-kilometer road.
“We have to clear illegal parking. We are willing to open more secondary roads to make it more passable,” he said.
The I-ACT is considering the areas of Connecticut, Boni Avenue, JP Rizal and Katipunan as among the additional alternate routes for private motorists.
MMDA officials admit that the increasing number of private vehicles is the major cause of the traffic jams along Edsa. They say more than 6,800 vehicles are using Edsa per hour in one direction higher than the artery’s capacity of 6,000 vehicles per hour.
The agency says about 6,000 cars are sold in the country each month, and that 90 percent of the vehicles using Edsa are private.