Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Limit Private Vehicles, not PUVs, on EDSA

Posted by butalidnl on 14 July 2010

The MMDA proposal [see MMDA Pushes Number Coding for Buses ] to implement a number-coding scheme for buses in EDSA is not a good idea. The MMDA is proposing this, because it says that PUVs are a source of traffic congestion, and that there are just too many buses in EDSA (they cite the fact that buses often are only half full).

But I find that this is a bad idea. Buses, even when half full, carry many more passengers than private autos. In fact, a lot of cars on EDSA often only have one or two passengers (i.e. including the driver).  And for a bus to work at their optimum level, they don’t need to be always full. In fact, they would probably be full only about half of the time. If they are always full, this would show that there is a shortage of buses for a given route.

And besides, the MMDA is applying upside-down logic regarding traffic congestion. It seems that it wants to “decongest” EDSA to make it more convenient for private car owners, and not for the convenience of the wider public. Because if the convenience of the wider public were to be the main starting point, it will naturally mean that EDSA be decongested so that public transportation will flow smoothly.

What should we do with the traffic at EDSA, then? Well, the first thing would be to adopt sensible traffic rules, and implement these quite strictly. Buses, jeepneys, and FXs should stop only at designated pick-up points. They should force buses to leave even when half full (which I said earlier, may be the more optimum use of buses), instead of allowing them to wait till they are full. Nobody should be allowed to walk across EDSA; they should all take pedestrian overpasses. Taxis should be required to take passengers only from designated taxi stations, and not be flagged down.

Reduce Private Vehicles
And then, there should be steps taken to reduce the number of private vehicles plying EDSA. One way would be to implement a congestion charge for private vehicles using EDSA; that is, all private vehicles using EDSA would have to pay a fee to use it. This would be in the form of a sticker for a year’s use (to cost perhaps something like Php 2000 or so per year) or a single day ticket for say Php 50.  This should lessen the use of EDSA – after all, there are alternative ways of going around the city. And, in connection to this, all small roads that open to EDSA should be made one-way (i.e. only traffic coming from EDSA), forcing vehicles that want to enter EDSA to do so only through major intersections (where they will be checked to see if they have the necessary stickers). The money collected from the access fee should be used to improve public transportation e.g. the LRT.

And then, the capacity of the LRT and MRT should be doubled by adding more cars to the trains, and also by increasing the frequency of the trains. This will encourage some auto riders to take public transportation. The fare should also be increased a bit, making it only a little cheaper than the buses; this will help to get buses to be fuller, and also lessen the subsidy of the government for the LRT.

Construct a LRT line along C5. This should further decongest traffic there, and make it easier to go by public transport if your destination is accessible by C5. This will have an indirect effect of decongesting both EDSA and the MRT.

Then, increase the number of FX allowed to ply EDSA. This will further reduce private car use, while providing an alternative to those using private cars. While FXs ferry fewer passengers than buses; they are an alternative to many people who usually take their cars. It would be better to have more FXs on the road, if this comes in place of more cars.

Build “Transferiums”. These are big parking places for vehicles at the edges of a city, so that people could just park their cars there, and take public transportation from that point on.  For people coming from the provinces, this could be a viable alternative for them, rather than being forced to brave Metro Manila’s traffic. The transferiums should also be the starting point for various airconditioned bus routes into Metro Manila, and if possible be near to LRT/MRT stations.

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