The Metro Manila Development Authority announced Friday it would continue enforcing the controversial traffic scheme that prohibits drivers without companions along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue during rush hours from 7 am to 10 am and 6 pm to 9 pm.
This, after members of the Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s governing board and policy-making body, unanimously agreed to continue the dry run of the Expanded High Occupancy VehicleTraffic policy pending a dialogue on its effect with Congress.
But senators were divided on the MMC decision, with Senate President Vicente Sotto III saying the decision was up to the MMC and the MMDA but they would have to defend their budget before the chamber.
“Well, if they want to not honor or give weight to the Senate resolution, it’s up to them but let’s see how their budget passes our committee on finance,” Sotto said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Sotto pointed to Senate Resolution 845, urging the MMDA and MMC to suspend the ban on driver-only vehicles in Edsa during rush hours and conduct a public consultation or hearing before implementing it.
“We have approved a resolution that will extend the dry run and test the carpooling program of the MMDA,” said Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, head of the Council’s special committee on Traffic.
The MMDA is set to hold a dialogue with the Senate, members of House of Representatives, and Malacañang to convince government officials on the importance of the scheme.
But Bautista said they would have to wait for the assessment of the Expanded HOV Traffic Scheme that aimed to encourage motorists to engage in ride sharing.
“We have to continue the dry run, know the findings of the MMDA and the affected local government units regarding the Expanded HOV scheme on Edsa and inner cities,” he said.
The MMDA, in coordination with the five cities in the National Capital Region—San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Makati, and Taguig—will create a study from the test run to determine the impact of the scheme to Edsa’ traffic flow.
While penalty shall not be imposed during the dry run, MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. urged the motorists to cooperate.
“For our evaluation, we are calling on the participation of everyone. Participate in the carpooling program,” said Garcia.
According to Garcia, the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program had several major infrastructure and mass transportation projects in the National Capital Region lined up—the long-term answer to Metro Manila’s traffic problems.
“We cannot just wait for these projects to be done. We need to do something about it,” said Garcia, adding that next month, the Department of Public Works and Highway would start the rehabilitation of some bridges.
Moreover, the MMC, composed of the 17 mayors and local government executives in the NCR, had also agreed to increase the penalty for illegal parking to P1,000 and for attended and unattended vehicles to P2,000; and public utility buses going astray of the yellow lane on Edsa to P1,000 from P500.
Earlier, the Senate called for the suspension of full implementation of the scheme which bans driver-only vehicles on Edsa from 7 am to 10 am and 6 pm to 9 pm.