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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Sticking to the science

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“By completely segregating the bus carousel, the exclusive lane actually becomes a separate road and MMDA can do a lot with it if it wishes”

In my years of involvement in traffic management, I have learned it is advisable to stick to the science and not mix it with public relations or politics when making decisions.

Doing so often ends up with more problems.

The bus carousel case involving the name of Senator Bong Revilla is a good example.

The attempt by one MMDA official to please the good Senator whom he thought was there but was not caused his suspension.

Unfortunately, there are many instances wherein traffic management decisions are being made that are not science-based.

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That is one of the many reasons why traffic in the Metro area keeps on deteriorating.

People who are in charge of traffic management do not stick to the science or, worse, simply do not know the science making the situation even more confused and chaotic.

After the fiasco in the handling of the Revilla incident, the MMDA announced a new set of guidelines on the use of the bus carousel.

Vehicles with government plates are no longer exempted from the ban.

Even police cars and fire trucks are no longer exempted unless actually performing official functions. Ambulances are still exempted when transporting a patient to a hospital but not when empty.

Those exempted are official vehicle convoys belonging to the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

All other officials including other members of Congress will have to use the other lanes just like any other motorist.

Not surprisingly, the public reacted negatively to the exemptions and rightly so.

It would have been better if the MMDA remained firm with its original guidelines and not allowed any exemptions.

This is where science should have been followed.

We have to understand that except under extraordinary circumstances, all motorists have the same rights as dictated by traffic laws when it comes to road use.

I can understand why the MMDA decided to give those exempted officials the pass even if the officials themselves did not ask for it but, as we can see, public reaction was mostly negative.

For one, the optics is not good seeing the convoy go thru when everyone is suffering.

A motor cycle rider for instance could be terminated if late for work but high ranking public officials will suffer no such thing if late for an appointment.

The bus carousel is good for bus riders but obviously problematic for the other motorists.

MMDA’s overall aim should be on improving the overall traffic flow of EDSA and not only the buses. But since MMDA is in it already, it should consider completely segregating the exclusive bus lane if possible to lessen and prevent violations.

As I have been trying to say in many articles, EDSA needs to be allocated more funds so the needed engineering improvements can be undertaken to improve traffic flow for all motorists.

But this should be done only after a thorough engineering study with the help of outside traffic experts so that the scope of work can be properly identified.

One problem with EDSA is that the North-South Skyway after much expectations is apparently not diverting a significant portion of the EDSA traffic to the Skyway so that EDSA traffic flow will improve significantly.

I suspect the reason is the small number of exit and entry points.

Fortunately, this might now be addressed by the just announced joint Ayala-SMC project to extend the Skyway in 2024.

The original Skyway plan then was for more exits and entry points to provide more options for motorists but did not go thru perhaps because of some objections or change in the design plans.

With the announcement, there will now be more ramps that will be added.

I do not know whether MMDA realizes that by completely segregating the bus carousel, the exclusive lane actually becomes a separate road and MMDA can do a lot with it if it wishes.

Engineering could provide a lot of possibilities that are not currently possible if only there are traffic engineers in MMDA with the imagination to take advantage of the situation.

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