A lawmaker from Caloocan City wants to ban private motor vehicles from Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Metro Manila’s major circumferential road, during rush hours.
Liberal Party Rep. Edgar Erice proposed the ban to Metro Manila Development Authority officials during the budget hearing of the agency on Monday.
But MMDA spokesman Pircelyn Pialago said the members of the Metro Manila Council and not the MMDA will decide whether they will approve the proposals to solve the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis that causes billions of pesos in revenue losses.
The MMC, which composed of 17 mayors in Metro Manila, is the governing board and the policy-making body of the MMDA.
Still, the MMDA said Monday it is open to all suggestions to solve Metro Manila’s traffic woes and expressed delight in receiving an increasing number of suggestions from both the government and private sectors.
Pialago said their office welcomes such suggestions in response to Erice’s proposal to ban private vehicles from plying EDSA during rush hours.
Critics said legislators will not be affected by Erice’s idea because they and their backup vehicles either use low-numbered license plates or red government vehicle plates.
It is only the legislators and other government functionaries that will benefit from the scheme because they did not focus on traffic management before.
Erice said he plans to file a resolution on the proposed scheme after meeting with the House metropolitan development committee chairman and Manila Rep. Manny Lopez in late September. He aims to have the scheme implemented this year, preferably before the start of the holiday season.
But a congressman who thumbed down Erice’s proposal said: “The cheek of Congressman Erice to make that proposal. It was his party mates who caused the heavy traffic and now he wants to inflict that ban on everybody.”
The MRT 3 service deteriorated during the previous administration due to neglect and the hiring of a new maintenance provider owned by members of the then ruling Liberal Party.
The new maintenance service provider failed to keep the trains running despite being paid billions of pesos by the then Department of Transportation and Communications led by the president of the Liberal Party, Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya. Erice was a rabid apologist of the previous administration, the lawmaker said.
Under Erice’s proposal, private vehicles will be banned from EDSA from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. to decongest Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare.
During those hours, Erice said, Edsa will be a “mass transport highway” and only public utility vehicles will be allowed.
He said this will help decongest Edsa, especially that the volume of private vehicles that ply along the major road reaches up to 300,000 while the buses number only about 8,000.
The 300,000 private car owners that would be affected should the said scheme be implemented could either leave their houses before 6 a.m. or after 9 a.m., use routes or streets outside Edsa or use public transport, Erice proposed.
Erice said this “immediate and temporary solution” could be in effect until the completion of construction works on North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway connector, the Metro Manila subway, and the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3.
When asked if motorcycles and transport network vehicle services units will be considered as private vehicles, the lawmaker said this still has to be studied. Meanwhile, he said that emergency vehicles such as ambulances will be exempt from the ban.
During the hearing, MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said the agency will “seriously consider” the proposal and will bring it up with Metro Manila mayors during their coming Metro Manila Council meeting in October.
This developed as Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to issue a provisional authority for new buses that will serve Commonwealth to ease the plight of stranded commuters. With Joel E. Zurbano and PNA