The proposal to ban private vehicles from EDSA during rush hours has one thing going for it—it will surely work. No doubt, such a ban would clear Metro Manila’s main circumferential road of the daily traffic snarls that have become its signature feature. But then, so would banning the sale of new vehicles, limiting car ownership to one vehicle per family, quadrupling the price of gasoline, requiring companies to enforce telecommuting five days a week, or declaring that only pink cars will be allowed on the road.
In short, the proposal put forward by Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice makes as much sense as barring people from going to the mall to ensure a smooth shopping experience.
Under Erice’s proposal, private vehicles will be banned from EDSA from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. to decongest Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare.
During those hours, Erice said, Edsa will be a “mass transport highway” and only public utility vehicles will be allowed.
He said this will help decongest Edsa, especially that the volume of private vehicles that ply along the major road reaches up to 300,000 while the buses number only about 8,000.
The 300,000 private car owners could either leave their houses before 6 a.m. or after 9 a.m., use routes or streets outside Edsa or use public transport, Erice said.
In justifying his proposal, Erice said traffic managers should give priority to the commuting public instead of private motorists.
“We should prioritize the welfare of ordinary workers, the poor, those in the lower middle class who don’t have cars,” he said.
What the congressman fails to mention is that most of the private motorists he wants to penalize in the name of the poor are not all that wealthy—and are already subsidizing the poor by way of their taxes, which go into “pro-poor” programs such as the government dole called the 4Ps.
He also fails to mention that these private motorists and their passengers add value to the economy by going to work and being productive, despite the horrendous traffic snarls they must endure—just like the people on the bus.
The congressman also neglects to mention that it was his colleagues from the Liberal Party, when they were still in power, that allowed public transport systems such as the MRT to deteriorate to a point that they became untenable and unsafe.
He says nothing of the inequity of having 300,000 car owners pay a road tax every year—then be told they may not use the road, after all
We wonder, too, if the good congressman would be covered by the ban on private vehicles, or would he now be able to breeze through EDSA in his government-owned car, accompanied perhaps by a small police escort to steer the buses away.
Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim said the agency will “seriously consider” the proposal and will bring it up with the 17 Metro Manila mayors during their coming Metro Manila Council meeting in October. It is the members of the council, not the MMDA, that will decide whether they will approve the proposals to solve the worsening traffic situation.
When the time comes, we trust there will be enough right-thinking mayors who will rush to put the Erice proposal where it belongs—in the trash bin of dumb, discarded ideas.