"This should get traffic going."
When I was Minority Leader, the worsening traffic situation on EDSA was a thorny issue that was often tackled during press conferences and featured in this column. Various solutions were offered then. If memory serves me right, there were several options that were tabled for discussion: emergency powers for the President; no garage, no new car policy; the modified odd-even scheme. What is currently in place is the no-window scheme. It appears to have little effect on decreasing the volume of vehicles on EDSA. I repeatedly called the attention of the Executive in addressing this problem which reportedly results in P3.5-billion loss in revenues.
Time and again, commuters and travelers alike bewail the seemingly eternal problem of traffic congestion in Metro Manila, particularly along EDSA. Months ago, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) proposed a ban on provincial buses from traversing EDSA to ease traffic. This has been met with different reactions from government officials and the public. The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has recently issued a writ of preliminary injunction which stops the implementation of the provincial bus ban.
Buses are often blamed for the traffic. While buses may not be totally blameless, there are other factors at play. The LTFRB and MMDA have previously purged EDSA of colorum buses, but this effort remains to be felt by those of us on the road. Erring bus drivers and operators continue to maneuver EDSA wantonly and carelessly. We have seen buses make sudden swerves and worse, completely stopping in the middle of road either to load, unload or even wait for passengers. Perhaps, there is a need to look at the bodies tasked to implement and regulate traffic.
There is a public impression that traffic enforcers are often in cahoots with illegal bus drivers and operators. They seem to get away with this lack of decorum. There is also poor enforcement of traffic management laws and a lack of road discipline by motorists and pedestrians alike.
Hence, the provincial bus ban may not be as effective as it is hoped to be. We need to address first the problem of the regulatory mechanisms in place before we head to implementing various policies. At this point, I would also like to emphasize the importance of adequate and proper driver education which should be strictly examined and corrected starting from the issuance of driver’s license.
The provincial bus ban is of particular concern to me as governor. Many of my constituents frequently travel to the metro by bus to sell their products, engage in business, and work. Those who live closer to Manila, like commuters from Laguna and Batangas, take several rides to get to their destinations. Productive and efficient use of time is cut short by the hours wasted in traffic.
While the responsible government agencies, and the Senate, are determining whether the bus ban is an adequate solution to the traffic problem, perhaps the DOTr can improve its services and ensure that the trains and rails are running regularly. Building Line 7 and the subway system should be fast tracked. Perhaps our LGUs can help by making sure the alternate routes in their areas are open, and not converted into parking lots.
It has been said that our traffic situations mirrors our collective behavior. We should ask ourselves, are we undisciplined, lacking in proper road decorum? Do we as individuals follow the same rules that we insist should be applied to everyone? The President’s SONA challenged us to see if we have become our own enemy. In the traffic situation, are we, as individuals, part of the problem, or part of the solution? To my mind, we start with being disciplined on the road. That should get the traffic moving.