MANILA — The business group Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) wants President Benigno Aquino to appoint a “traffic czar” who will be in charge of solving Metro Manila’s perennial traffic woes.
In an open letter to the president, MAP drew up a list of solutions to the traffic problem, which includes a traffic czar to be appointed via an Executive Order.
The list of recommendations also include creating a highway patrol under the direct supervision of the traffic czar, beef up road engineering to facilitate traffic management, fast track upgrade of MRT3, upgrade of national roads into expressways and other additional civil and road works.
“The MAP believes that the sever traffic congestion and commuter transportation problems besetting our metropolis are behavioral and structural in nature,” the group said in its letter.
Gridlock in Metro Manila has long been a problem costing the country millions of pesos in lost productivity as workers get stuck in traffic for hours on end.
Here’s the complete text of M.A.P.’s open letter and recommendations:
THE TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS OF METRO MANILA:
A Holistic Approach
M.A.P. Recommendations in Solving the Traffic and Transportation Problems in Metro Manila
26 August 2015
The MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (M.A.P.):
· recognizing the severe traffic and commuter transportation situation in Metro Manila (MM) and the great detriment it is causing our people, the economy, and environment;
· aware that a large segment of the metropolitan population, various sectors of society and the economy are reeling from the adverse effects of these urban problems;
· believing that these twin urban problems are not totally insurmountable; and
· consistent with its advocacy to contribute to the attainment of good public governance for the public good;
hereby respectfully urge President Benigno S. Aquino III, together with the bureaucracy at the national and local levels in MM governments, with great urgency and resolution to take the strongest possible measures to immediately and squarely address these twin urban problems.
NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
The M.A.P. believes that the severe traffic congestion and commuter transportation problems besetting our metropolis are BEHAVIORAL and STRUCTURAL in nature, and should be addressed accordingly. These problems evolved over a long period of time, should be addressed through the three most basic elements of effective traffic management – road ENGINEERING, EDUCATION of all stakeholders and ENFORCEMENT (3 “E”s) of traffic rules.
Deficient road engineering prevents efficient traffic flow, essential to optimize limited road space. The deficiency allows drivers to wantonly switch or block lanes without regard for others on vital road arteries. Regulatory weakness has allowed the proliferation of public utility vehicles (PUVs). Lack of education contributes to diminished civic consciousness and responsible driving behavior that, coupled with ineffective enforcement, have rendered traffic rules as mere “suggestions” to be ignored with impunity. Inadequate enforcement of anti-smoke belching regulations has resulted in an unacceptably high air pollution level that has made respiratory diseases prevalent in the metropolis that is raising public health cost, diminishing human productivity and quality of life.
Lack of the 3 “E”s is compounded by three other factors: SEVERE DEFICIENCY in MASS TRANSIT SYSTEMS, UNSUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES and an INEFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE of the metropolis.
The M.A.P. recommends a comprehensive and HOLISTIC approach consisting of immediate and long-term measures. The immediate measures will yield the earliest relief for motorists and commuters.
Long-term “hard” infrastructure measures, some of which are already being rolled out by the current administration, will address the structural deficiency and, when completed, provide long- term sustainable improvement. The need for the immediate implementation and completion of these infrastructure projects cannot be overemphasized.
SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION
We respectfully recommend the following measures to the President:
1. Appoint a Traffic Czar to act and show who is in charge
When gridlock grips the metropolis with no relief in sight, people ask “Who is in charge”?
A Traffic Czar, preferably the Secretary of the Cabinet, Sec. Jose Rene D. Almendras, be appointed through a presidential Executive Order (E.O.) and empowered to:
1.1 Take overall charge of all matters related to or affecting traffic and road management, including the implementation of necessary road engineering refinements, on all national roads in MM;
1.2 With respect to the traffic, environment and road systems, including those in the military base lands converted to mixed-used developments in MM, deputize, utilize, coordinate, avail and, when necessary, prevail over all the relevant national government agencies, including the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) under the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) with respect to the traffic and road system in base lands converted to mixed-use developments in MM.
1.3 Reduce the excessive number of illegally operated PUVs. These vehicles are choking national roads, including EDSA, and must be reduced to an appropriate and sustainable number. It is better to have public conveyances that can more quickly bring passengers to their destinations rather than an excess that will only be stuck in traffic wasting fuel and spewing toxic emissions. Livelihood opportunities should be provided to displaced PUV owners and drivers, with the latter retrained for redeployment to other commercial and industrial purposes, such as the logistics, tourism, port, infrastructure construction, education and other sectors.
1.4 Institute an organized bus dispatch system for all remaining PUVs such that only an appropriate number of buses will be dispatched on the road as needed.
2. Highway Patrol Group
Assign and deputize a specially trained Highway Patrol Group within the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the direct supervision and control of the Traffic Czar to impose order on the chaotic traffic through strict enforcement of traffic rules and regulations.
3. Engineering Refinements
Direct the Traffic Czar to introduce road engineering refinements. Good road engineering is essential to effective traffic management and efficient traffic flow. Much common sense, quick and inexpensive road engineering fixes will help control traffic. Such measures must be quickly introduced in major national roads as they have proven to be effective in addressing the previously problematic traffic on Ayala Avenue in the Makati business district and other congested cities elsewhere.
These engineering solutions include concrete lane delineators to segregate bus lanes on national roads, including EDSA. These are currently being installed but in only two locations in EDSA, particularly in front of the Guadalupe Market and near Connecticut on the southbound lane. Lane delineators efficiently channel traffic, while minimizing the need for human intervention, which on many occasions are unreliable or ineffective. More extensive application of such devices are needed to achieve the desired result.
4. MRT3 – Fast track upgrade and capacity expansion
A train system is the most efficient, convenient and affordable people mover. MRT3 must be quickly and properly rehabilitated, and its passenger capacity greatly expanded. The MRT3 system, being in place, provides the fastest option for quickly addressing commuter capacity deficiency on EDSA. All efforts must be quickly taken to resolve any outstanding issues that stand in the way for such improvement.
5. Upgrade existing major national roads into expressways
Urban expressways, being intersection-free, facilitate easy ingress to and egress from busy downtown districts, aside from providing fast circulation for urban traffic. Since the late 1980s during the Cory Aquino administration, then Secretary Jose de Jesus of DPWH introduced engineering refinements, particularly grade separation, on EDSA and Roxas Blvd. to attain the efficiency of expressways. These refinements were initially effective, but over time, their efficiency was degraded due to lack of adequate follow-through improvements and proper road management practices.
Although some other major engineering improvements have been introduced to further improve EDSA, such as the Edsa-Ortigas overpass and Edsa-Ayala tunnel, other complementing measures are still needed to attain the full potential of efficient urban expressways.
Good examples of urban expressways can be found in densely populated Hong Kong. The HK Island Eastern Corridor stretches through the entire length of the eastern side from one end, going right through the congested downtown central financial and commercial district up to the other end of the island. The well-engineered road has no intersections, road lanes are well defined with international standard markings, signage and concrete delineator to segregate commuter buses from interrupting vehicles on the fast lanes. Other intersection-free thoroughfares are found in the island and congested Tsim Sha Tsui district in Kowloon.
6. Targets for Road Engineering
In MM, the following roads are prime candidates for reengineering as expressways – EDSA, C5, Roxas Blvd., Diosdado Macapagal Ave., Katipunan, Commonwealth and, all intersecting radial roads, particularly the entire length of Buendia from EDSA up to the junction with Ayala Ave., Lawton Ave. in West Fort Bonifacio, Kalayaan Ave., Shaw Blvd., Ortigas Ave., E. Rodriguez, Ramon Magsaysay, Roosevelt, Quezon Ave. and Bonifacio Road in QC.
Improve the resiliency of all national major and radial roads against floods.
7.1 Flood-prone road sections are known, but as flood control measures take time to complete, may be quickly addressed by raising the low portions above flood level using prefabricated steel perforated matting resting on steel supports, similarly used by the US Army Engineering Corps during the war.
7.2 Fast track construction of more underground cisterns to hold flash-flood waters at low-lying areas.
7.3 Properly maintain flood pumps at all underpasses for standby use 24/7.
8. Fast Construction Methods
Direct the use of fast construction methods. Prefabricated steel or precast concrete bridging systems offer the fastest solution for grade separation, to quickly eliminate at-grade traffic-clogging intersections along busy major national road.
Conventional construction methods take 2 years to complete, while sections of prefabricated steel or a precast concrete system can be quickly assembled onsite to drastically reduce construction time to just a matter of days while causing minimal disruption to traffic flow. Necessarily, radial roads that intersect these national roads must likewise be upgraded with grade separation and concrete median and PUV lane delineators to provide efficient traffic distribution to and from major national roads.
9. Direct a campaign for private vehicle high occupancy practices
All large schools within the metropolis must be required to provide bus service to their students and adequate passenger loading and unloading spaces within school premises. Schools that allow vehicles to spill onto public streets must be sanctioned, including the drivers. Express lanes for high occupancy vehicles (HOV) and cargo-carrying vehicles shall be provided on wide national roads, such as EDSA and Commonwealth.
SPECIFIC MEDIUM AND LONG-TERM RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Build new bridges across Pasig River
Presently, there is over-convergence of vehicles during rush hours on the few bridges, particularly at EDSA and C5, to cross the Pasig River. Again, using prefabricated steel bridges for fast completion, construction of the long missing C-3 bridge link from Makati to Mandaluyong and another to link Bonifacio Global City to an appropriate location in Capitolyo, will greatly disperse vehicular traffic to relief congestion.
2. Resolve issues and fast track other mass transit systems
2.1 Resolve all issues related to the linking of MRT3 to LRT1 and the implementation of the LRT1 extension to Cavite;
2.2 Roll out the LRT2 extension line from Santolan, Marikina, to Masinag Market with an intermodal terminus station for convenient and safe interconnection with other modes of transport, and provide a park-and-ride facility to encourage commuters to take public transit instead of driving their cars into the city;
2.3 Quickly decide on and rollout an appropriate surface mass transit system to complement the MRT3 on EDSA. The government must choose the most appropriate transit option among many, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), long-bus train, large capacity articulated city commuter buses or rail tram. Whatever is the final choice, the criterion in the selection should include organized operation, propulsion that does not produce air-polluting exhaust emissions, user-friendly conveyances with ramp for wheelchair-bound persons and low floor for easier and safer boarding and disembarking that will enable quicker turnaround time.
2.4 Fast track implementation of the MM north and south commuter rail, including the provision of city intermodal terminals and at outlying towns and cities as a means to promote the development of satellite towns and cities to decongest MM. Include park-and-ride facility to encourage motorists to use public transit.
2.5 Connect major commercial and residential developments to mass transit systems – Require large malls and residential complexes adjacent to or within walking distance from the MRT / LRT and future BRT stations to connect directly to these mass transit systems through covered elevated walkways, provide ticketing service within these developments to shorten the queue at the stations and reduce the number of people on the narrow sidewalks.
3. Require adherence to best practices for mixed-use property development
Large-scale developments can be disruptive to existing communities and impair their long-term sustainability, if generally accepted best practices in development are not observed. Many, if not most, mixed-use districts in MM suffer from traffic congestion. The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board is the agency charged with reviewing and approving development plans and the BCDA has jurisdiction over military base lands being converted for mixed-use developments. They must be directed to more strictly scrutinize and exercise oversight functions to ensure adherence to best practices for sustainable development, particularly building density, mass transit, road system design and provision of public amenities.
4. Issue an E. O. directing the planning of a high-capacity subway system under the entire length of EDSA
The presence of numerous large shopping malls, government institutions, business districts and massive residential housing complexes along EDSA will ultimately require a high-capacity heavy subway system. Ideally, and at the very least, an E.O. of the President must be issued to reserve the first underground level as the right of way for a future EDSA subway to pre-empt all possible intersecting subway lines, such as the proposed Bonifacio Global City to MOA subway line that will necessarily traverse EDSA. The government must be ahead of the curve and anticipate the heavy future demand of commuters along the entire stretch of EDSA.
5. Direct the filing of a legislative bill to restructure governance of MM
An elected Governor who shall, by law rather than forbearance of the city mayors, be vested with authority over matters such as road and traffic management, flood control, urban planning and development, particularly large-scale mixed-use land developments.
The severe traffic and transportation problems are not without solutions but they will require immediate, firm and resolute action from the national leadership. The status quo is not acceptable. Inaction is not an option.
MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (M.A.P.)