THE Metro Manila Development Authority is considering a proposal to have a three-digit number coding scheme to further ease traffic in the National Capital Region during the holiday season.
The proposal, which came from Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, is for th™e Department of Transportation and members of the Inter-agency Council on Traffic to temporarily enforce the three-digit coding on or before December to ease road congestion during the peak buying days.
“Before December comes in, the DOTr should have a prescribed schedule of banned vehicles per day (i.e. 1,2,3 for December 1; 4,5,6 for December 2; and so on). This must be implemented until the end of the Three Kings’ Day celebration, when we will revert to the two-digit number coding scheme,”Suarez said in his Manila Standard column.
“I can already anticipate the resistance by many. It requires change. Big change. Change is often met with instant refusal. Change is seen as a negative thing. I think, in this case, big problem, big solution. So please consider, do we leave things as they are and allow traffic to get worse? Isn’t it better to do something now before a serious problem arises?” Suarez wrote.
But MMDA chairman Thomas Orbos welcomed Suarez’s proposal, saying he will consult I-ACT members and the Metro Manila Council, the policy-making body of his agency, composed of the 17 mayors in the NCR.
“We have to consult them first and study this proposal,” said Orbos.
Orbos also said he also tapped MMDA Traffic Engineering Center chief Noemie Recio to conduct a study on the impact to motorists and other implications of the three-digit Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program.
Suarez is expecting that the scheme will reduce 30 to 40 percent decrease in the volume of vehicles in Metro Manila.
The lawmaker made the proposal after the slight success and 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.
“We hope for a temporary reduction in the number of vehicles during the holidays. While the new MMDA scheme has been effective, we need to calibrate our traffic solutions according to the increased volume of holiday traffic. If proactive measures are not implemented to anticipate Christmas traffic, it will not be a Happy Holiday for anyone,” said Suarez.
“We should celebrate the holidays with our families and loved ones. No one should spend the holidays stuck in their cars, whining, miserable, and hating everyone. I believe the government is doing the best that it can, with a seemingly impossible situation. We should do the same,” he added.
Among the improvements, based on the assessment of the MMDA, 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 Oct. 5, the vehicles’ average speed was 15.84 kph from Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City and vice versa, with an average travel time of 1 hour, 27 minutes and 27 seconds.
On the next day, Oct. 6, vehicles plying the same route had an average speed of 15.91 kph and travel time of 1 hour, 27 minutes and 1 second.
On Oct. 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 Oct. 12, the average travel time of vehicles traversing the same route was 1 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 Oct. 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.
With this improvement, the government also agreed to extend the window hour suspension to one hour from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and expanding the coverage of the traffic scheme to at least 15 main roads, most of them Circumferential and Radial roads.
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.
MMDA officials admitted 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.