“The persistence of the road transportation problem is the failure or inability of our transportation authorities to rationalize the exact roles of rail, buses, jeepneys and tricycles in Metro Manila’s overall transportation system”
When the new DOTr team takes over, the public expects them to hit the road running.
This is because the problems at hand need their immediate attention.
One of these is the state of public transport system that we have in Metro Manila.
This problem has been crying for solutions for years that expectations are high that the new administration can finally solve the problem.
To be fair, previous governments have tried to alleviate the problem.
Some succeeded in lessening the problems while others only aggravated the problems because of faulty programs.
Today, with the many infrastructure projects going on and have been completed, the problems still persist. Why?
Has the government been doing wrong?
To add to the problem is that every time we speak of public transportation, we invariably also have to talk of traffic which complicates everything.
Public transportation is normally understood to mean the rail, buses, jeepneys, taxis and the ubiquitous tricycles.
As we are witnessing, there are several rail projects currently going on to add to the existing MRT3, LRT 1, and LRT 2.
These are the 35-kilometer subway, the LRT 1 extension to Laguna, LRT 7, the PNR North and South extension lines that, when completed, will be able to move hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.
The persistence of the road transportation problem is the failure or inability of our transportation authorities to rationalize the exact roles of rail, buses, jeepneys and tricycles in Metro Manila’s overall transportation system.
The ideal situation should be that when rail is available along a route, there should be no more buses or jeepneys to compete with rail.
In like manner, when buses are available along a certain line, jeepneys should not be there either.
EDSA is the best example of a chaotic situation.
Along this route, we see buses and jeepneys competing with MRT 3.
There is no order. Tricycles should bring passengers to jeepney lines and jeepneys bring passengers to bus lines so that each of these services will not be competing against each other but complementing one another.
This, however, will be difficult to change if the government will continue to rely solely on the private sector to provide the investment for road transportation.
It is time that government start investing on road transportation like other major metropolitan areas in the developed world.
It is already investing in light rail transportation and has invested in road transportation before.
When the Department of Transportation and Communications was established in 1979 by the then President Ferdinand Marcos, the Metro Manila Transit Corporation was formed to add to the 10 bus cooperatives established to service the whole NCR.
These 10 bus cooperatives were assigned specific routes to avoid competition with the MMTC being the only one whose routes could be modified depending on the need of a specific metro area.
The popular Love Bus was part of that operation.
The government, therefore, was able to reduce the number of bus operators to a smaller number that was much easier to supervise and control.
This operation was maintained until abandoned by the succeeding administration when unrestricted entry of bus operators was allowed which grew to the hundreds that we have today.
The DOTr plan in 1980 was to eventually phase out the traditional jeepneys or restrict their use to shorter and specific routes.
Jeepneys and tricycles were not allowed in any section of EDSA at that time.
Today, we know that both are all over EDSA contributing to the traffic chaos along that road.
Planning at the DOTr then was reinforced by competent foreign transport and traffic consultants with JICA working closely with the Department. In might interest the incoming DOTr team that there were plans back in 1980 that were never implemented that could still be considered by the new administration to improve traffic management in the NCR.
One is the installation of an intelligent traffic signaling system.
The traffic signaling system that we have in the NCR is old that should be consigned to the museum.
We need to have a state-of-the-art traffic signaling system to improve traffic flow significantly.
There is also a need for a state-of-the-art traffic control center which we also do not have.
With a modern traffic control center, traffic flow can be controlled from there, thereby also improving traffic flow.
What we have is an inadequate and limited traffic control center.
With these two plus the rationalization of the current public transport system, traffic flow will not only improve but the limited road network in the NCR will become more efficient which is currently not the case.
If the new DOTr team will be looking for impact projects, the three mentioned above are worth considering.