‘Singles’ clog Edsa side streets
Traffic congestion on Wednesday shifted from Edsa to other thoroughfares after a new traffic scheme forced “single” riders to take secondary routes.
Not surprisingly, the dry run of the ban on driver-only vehicles and provincial buses on Edsa during rush hours left many stewing in pockets of traffic jams in other routes.
A netizen, however, managed to put a humorous spin to it.
“No wonder traffic is heavy on the side streets. The singles have converged on Mabuhay Lanes,” the netizen commented on Facebook, referring to a network of alternative routes open to motorists escaping gridlocks on major thoroughfares.
Jojo Garcia, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), observed that traffic largely transferred to secondary routes such as C-5 on the first day of the weeklong dry run.
“This is why we are not asking motorists to look for [alternative] routes,” Garcia said. “We are trying to encourage them to do carpooling as it would take vehicles off the road.”
No clear metrics
The MMDA was unable to determine how exactly the volume of traffic along Edsa was reduced. Neither did the agency set clear metrics to determine whether this was effective.
Under the scheme, driver-only vehicles are barred from the major thoroughfare 7 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Of the 367,000 vehicles traversing the highway daily, around 180,000 are “singles” or private vehicles with only the driver in them, according to the MMDA.
Some single riders were not amused, but they found an ally in senators who adopted a resolution urging the agency to recall the regulation and suspend its implementation.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, one of the four authors of the resolution, said he had heard of complaints that the scheme favored the rich who could afford to hire their own drivers, and thus circumvent the ban.
“It’s antipoor, anti-Senate President,” Sotto, who drives his own car to work, quipped, admitting that he employs no driver or bodyguard who could accompany him in his ride to and from work.
Otherwise, Sotto and his colleagues urged the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council to conduct public consultation and further study of its policy designating all Edsa lanes as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, for his part, suggested that senior citizens be exempted from the ban, saying they “may not be able to handle the physical stress that comes with taking a public transport.”
Instead of targeting motorists, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza urged the MMDA to remove “corrupt” traffic officers from the streets and illegal transport terminals clogging roadsides.
Labor groups, for their part, called for the suspension of the ban on provincial buses, saying this would add financial and health burden to workers, especially minimum wage earners.
This would force the workers to shell out an additional P36 for the extra ride on top of the P170 they spend for their commute from Bulacan, Bataan and Calabarzon to the capital every day, according to the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).
The P206 fare alone would eat up 40 percent of their P512 minimum wage, ALU-TUCP said. —With a report from Marlon Ramos
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