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Thursday, June 13, 2024

PBBM and traffic gridlock

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“All talk without the necessary budgetary support won’t get anything done”

We are once again talking traffic.

This is because, for the first time, PBBM has waded into the seemingly unsolvable problem of traffic gridlock in the Metropolitan area.

This is due to the series of appeals by the Management Association of the Philippines calling for the appointment of a so-called Traffic Czar to solve the traffic congestion that everyone experiences daily in the National Capital Region.

And ever since the President made his views public, many opinion writers as well as senior government officials followed with their customary motherhood solutions which we have all heard before.

In other words, we are not hearing anything new which gives the impression that, perhaps, the object of the exercise is being missed altogether.

Even the President’s exhortations are not new.

Developing the provinces to discourage people from migrating to the NCR has been recognized since the days of the Metro Manila Commission in the 1980s.

There was the Balik Probinsya program initiated by the government which failed.

We also keep on hearing about the need to develop an efficient public transport system to discourage the use of private cars and building more roads and bridges.

These are well and good but these are all generational solutions which will take many years to realize.

The public wants an immediate relief to improve traffic flow in the NCR in a very much shorter time frame in, say, one to two years, and not have to wait so long until the big ticket projects of the government will be completed.

The question is whether this is at all possible and how this could be accomplished.

Mindful of all the problems confronting the traffic problem in the NCR, the first order of the day is to agree on what we would consider the solution.

This is necessary because once this can be agreed upon, a doable plan can now be drafted for execution.

For instance, would our promised land be like Singapore or perhaps some capital cities in Europe like London or Paris?

Would we be satisfied with a more modest objective of improving travel time in the NCR by 15 to 20 percent and make road utilization more efficient also by that number?

If we choose the latter, this would make better sense because it is very doable if we have the discipline and the competent officials to do it.

PBBM in his exhortations talked about discipline and what he said is true.

Lack of driver discipline alone contributes from 10 to 15 percent to the traffic congestion in the NCR which is significant.

Good enforcement and a well behaved and disciplined driving public could easily improve traffic flow by that much in no time at all if a program can be planned and executed efficiently.

Problem is, almost everyone seems to think he or she is entitled.

The Bus way situation along EDSA is a good illustration of the way many motorists behave. Yet, we wonder why our traffic situation is so bad.

We should, therefore, concentrate our objectives only on areas that will improve traffic flow.

Putting up a state of the art traffic operation center in the NCR saturated with traffic CCTVs in critical areas should be a good start.

Doing an honest-to-goodness road survey for the purpose of reclaiming roads and sidewalks that have been lost to informal settlers or used for other purposes is another.

Doing minor engineering road projects to improve road utilization would also help a lot.

EDSA can actually still be improved and made more efficient.

Organizing a professional traffic enforcement force can also do wonders especially if this is done in conjunction with a sustained traffic education program.

But we apparently don’t think these steps are important.

Before dreaming to become like Singapore, let us first work hard to ensure the professionalization of the organization that is handling traffic management by choosing competent officials and then provide all the necessary support to accomplish its given mandate.

All talk without the necessary budgetary support won’t get anything done.


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