Getting stuck in traffic is not a very pleasant experience, but it is a way of life in Metro Manila. Workers, students, and residents experience this every day, especially during rush hours.
It gets worse when there’s a bottleneck due to an incident or during major construction.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the TomTom Traffic Index designated Manila as the world’s most congested city in 2019.
Traffic is a huge problem in the city and costing it around US$72 million every day, and if nothing is done to the situation, the resulting economic loss will rise to US$111.35 million a day by 2035.
The root of this age-old problem stems from the city’s inefficient use of roads, the lack of urban planning, and several transport authorities’ systematic issues.
The Rappler article unwraps the traffic issue in Metro Manila, Philippines using data from government agencies, recent studies, and experts and analyst insights trying to dissect where the problem lies in improving commuters’ experience when traveling through and around the city.
The article identified five main reasons that causing traffic congestions in Metro Manila:
Traffic volume exceeds road capacity
Despite building several road networks, it is still not enough to meet travel demands, especially in rush hours. The presence of public utility jeeps and buses also worsens the problem as they compete for passengers on the road.
Route rationalization plans in 2017 based on the finding of the study that identifies where the most passengers board and alights was not implemented.
The transport system is “car-centric” and not people or “mass centric”
While implementing a coding system or bus ban did reduce the amounts of vehicles on the street, it did not cut back people’s time to their destinations.
And the increasing car ownership in the city still put more cars on the road. Route rationalization would help alleviate the situation and should be implemented by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) asap, the article says.
The city lacks urban and city planning
Building more road infrastructure to reduce traffic would merely scratch the surface, the article says. Transport planners have long argued that adding more roads only creates demand.
A better solution would be to integrate transport and land use planning, as successfully modeled by other Asian cities like Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo, to address vehicle congestion.
Cities or governments should also reflect the integration of transport and land use planning in their land use plans.
It is unclear which government agency is responsible for addressing congestion problems in Metro Manila as some of their functions overlap.
A former Department of Transportation officer also confided that the agency lacks a highly technical staff, skills required to ensure efficient transportation networks and beyond.
And lastly, the article also points to existing corruption in the system and other officials having “vested interests that ultimately outweigh public service.”
To address Metro Manila’s congestion problems requires looking at all the factors that contribute to it.
Other Asian cities with similar issues have departed from the traditional approach of building more roads and took a holistic and innovative approach that integrates transportation planning and land-use plan.
This approach provides alternative modes of transportation and open spaces for pedestrians and bicycle pathways, exemplified in Seoul, Singapore, and Japan.
Integrated infrastructure management planning requires service levels, future demand requirements and trends, risk, natural hazards, and resilience.
Managing the whole life cycle of assets and services will help Metro Manila resolve its congestion and road capacity challenges.
PHOTO CREDIT: By Patrick Roque – Taken using my own camera, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81235316