Ever since Baguio City opened its door to unlimited tourism, traffic in the city has gotten worse.
There was a day three weeks ago when traffic in the city virtually stood still.
Considering that tourism is the City’s economic lifeblood, it is doubtful that the number of vehicles going up the City will be limited anytime soon.
The city will simply have to come up with a traffic plan to improve the traffic.
The daily heavy traffic along Leonard Wood Road and South Drive Road is due in part to the Baguio Botanical Garden and the Baguio Country Club Christmas area which attracts many tourists especially on weekends.
The fact that the BCC Christmas area is along the road to one of the entrances of Camp John Hay adds to the problem.
Add the Wright Park, Mansion House, Mines View Park and the Pacdal Circle where the rental horses are, and it is understandable why traffic is always congested in that area. This is worsened by the fact that the road that connects Leonard Wood and South Drive Roads that goes thru Teachers Camp has been closed to the public since the start of the pandemic.
The City should make arrangements with Teachers Camp or the office of the Secretary of Education to reopen the road to the public which has been the case for more than 100 years.
This would greatly help in easing the congestion on Leonard Wood and South Drive Roads and the Pacdal circle.
Teachers Camp, for the information of the public, is now a cheap bed and breakfast facility for tourists instead of a training facility for public schools teachers as it used to be.
There are now also squatters inside the Teachers Camp reservation, and they are now exclusively using the Teachers Camp roads apart from those who are going to the NAPOLCOM office and PNP training center.
In the meantime, traffic going to the Pacdal circle from Leonard Wood Road and South Drive will continue to be congested.
There is really no compelling security reason for Teachers Camp to keep the road closed considering that COVID restrictions have all been lifted all over the country.
The City government should force the issue with Teachers Camp or the office of the Secretary of Education to open the road to the public.
That is not a private road. It is a government property and the public should be allowed the right of passage like in any other government property in the City.
Ordinarily, the City’s road system can accommodate all the vehicles registered in the City plus a certain number of additional tourist vehicles but not the kind of number we have been seeing coming up lately.
This is expected to continue during the holidays which means that a traffic plan should be temporarily put in place to make road use a bit more efficient.
This also means that the city government should start thinking of doing another professional traffic and transport study to see if there are long-term engineering projects that could be undertaken to ease traffic congestion on a more permanent basis.
This is because there is now such a thing as Metro Baguio which includes the outlying municipalities of La Trinidad, Sablan, Tuba and Itogon.
All are within commuting distance to Baguio and should be included in any traffic and transport plan.
Parking or the lack of it is one of the most serious problems that need to be addressed. Streamlining the operation of the current public transportation to make it more efficient is another.
For those who are familiar with the city, most of the city roads inside the central business district are all practically used by jeepneys for parking.
The City has been grappling on how to solve this problem for some time but unfortunately has not found a workable and suitable solution up to this time.
Perhaps, the city should try reversing the location of the parking.
Instead of parking inside the city, the jeepneys should park from the point of origin and simply assign loading and unloading areas.
The associations should also be required to have better operation and communication systems to make their transport operation more efficient.
Taxi operation must also be improved so that not all of the taxi fleet are on the road.
As it is, six out of every 10 vehicles running on city roads are taxi cabs.
This is because there are no Taxi garages where people can call for taxi cabs like in the old days in Baguio.
Fortunately, the traffic problem is not so difficult to solve.
It depends, however, whether the City can find the right people who understand the problem and know how to go about solving them.
The overriding objective should be for the tourists to better enjoy their visit to the city instead of being stuck in traffic jams and for residents to go about their lives without too much frustrations due to traffic.