Metro Manila traffic is bad. It’s an established fact without need of further proof on top of the gridlock photos. Studies have shown that we’re losing MILLIONS per DAY because of Metro Manila traffic. Anyone stubborn enough to demand proof could simply take a ride in an open jeepney along EDSA during rush hour. In the past days, traffic is at a standstill throughout Metro Manila. It will get WORSE, the traffic authorities warned us. I hope it will grow to its absolute WORST condition.
If there’s one thing I learned from the fictional Dr. Greg House, it’s the reality that sometimes the symptoms have to be induced and magnified to find the real cause. I’m not a doctor but the logic makes perfect sense.
A terrible traffic jam lasting for days throughout the metro draws out many of the causes. Kotong cops. Undisciplined drivers. Huge trucks that block intersections and hug two lanes. Utter failure of agencies to get their acts together. Lack of studies to support traffic “experiments” done by MMDA, including the one-lane policy for trucks and the removal of u-turn slots along Katipunan and Quezon Avenues. Lack of coordination in road repairs and failure to provide alternative routes. The list is as endless as the curses let out by drivers and the traveling public.
Sustained traffic of this epic scale affects everyone —we have no choice but to care. It’s the antidote to apathy. If there’s a brownout, the poor can go to the mall and the rich can buy a generator or sleep in the rest house at the other cities. Even businessmen have no choice but to be concerned with the traffic gridlock. That’s the beauty of it all. We’re all in the same boat and so we must deal with it. Together. Or at the very least we’ll all get angry and demand that the authorities do their job.
There is a need to radically improve the mass transport system. The MRT Challenge — the attempted fad involving politicians and government officers taking photos riding the Philippines’ premier railway — won’t help in solving the traffic problem. It’s an adventure, a photo op at best, when done a single time. Those involved in transportation policy and transportation implementation should take the MRT during rush hour, fall in line and squeeze themselves into the train, take the connecting trip without their aircon cars waiting at the other end, go to work on those sweaty and smelly clothes, then do it all over again during rush hour on the way home. That’s only for one day. They have to do it every working day of the entire year.
It’s not really a problem unless it affects you.
It has to get really bad. Any lesser traffic problem will allow the authorities to play the blame game. The NLEX first pointed to the one-lane truck policy of the MMDA, only to take back the statement when the MMDA said it was not its fault. It’s the fault of Manila City, a group claimed. It’s that Caloocan City project, someone from Malacanang said. It’s the fault of the PPA and the truckers, others say. No, it’s really the lack of discipline on the part of motorists.
The blame game, it’s always played.
With horrible traffic over a sustained period, they can no longer pass the blame — the local government, the national agencies must act together. If it’s the lack of discipline then by all means CONSISTENTLY implement sane traffic rules without treating motorists like emotionless guinea pigs. At the very least, majority of the people will get angry enough to make their collective voice heard in the next election.
Of course, the preferred alternative is always there — for the traffic problem to be solved without getting out of hand. Let’s see.