Newly-minted Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada comes up with a quick win to solve Manila’s traffic mess. Reportedly part of “a grand plan to ease traffic congestion in the capital”, a new council resolution implemented by Erap’s city government bans “the entry of provincial and metro buses without private terminals in the city”.
The City Council passed Resolution No. 48 on July 16 to regulate the entry of city and provincial buses, allowing only those with existing private terminals in Manila. Buses coming from south via Taft Avenue must turn right to Vito Cruz while those coming from San Juan must turn left to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard.
Buses from Osmeña Highway should turn right to Quirino Avenue then turn around at Plaza Dilao Rotonda back to Osmeña. Buses coming from north of Manila should turn around from A. Bonifacio left to Aurora Boulevard, left Dimasalang Street onward to A. Bonifacio, with loading and unloading zone along Aurora Boulevard corner Elias Street.
Buses that are allowed to enter the city are not allowed to pick up and unload passengers along any street, except at their respective terminals.
Of course this is really just an isolated solution for the overall traffic mess that makes life across all of Metro Manila a living hell. While images of smoothly flowing traffic along major thoroughfares within Manila have been circulated over the last couple of days, measures put in place to stop the affected buses from entering Manila’s city limits have reportedly impacted traffic flow at major choke points…
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority traffic aides at the border of Manila and Quezon City said the buses targeted by the ban did not attempt to enter the city, radio dzBB’s Allan Gatus reported.
However, the report said the buses turning around upon reaching the Mabuhay Rotonda caused traffic to slow down slightly on Quezon Avenue, the report added.
…but it is anticipated that these measures started in Manila will eventually be extended to other jurisdictions within Metro Manila on the back of that “grand plan”. Three big transportation hubs are being set up at key Metro Manila entry points at its north and south fringes led by the recently-completed Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) at the Uniwide reclamation area in Parañaque City. The two others are “temporary” set ups at Quezon City’s Trinoma Mall to serve the metro’s north and at the Filinvest commercial area to serve the south.
According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, the Manila bus ban implemented by Estrada complements the overall efforts to build traffic decongestion solutions around these hubs.
The SITT test run being conducted Thursday afternoon is meant to familiarize provincial bus operators and drivers with the new system, he said.
In earlier interviews, Tolentino said commuters disembarking at the SITT can take the other public utility vehicles at the terminal to continue their trip to the capital.
The MMDA chief spoke positively of the Manila ordinance even as it continued to pose inconveniences to commuters still adjusting to the ban and drew protests from affected bus operators.
Now uncharacteristically reconciliatory (woefully belated at that) are “bus groups” who are reportedly appealing for increased coordination between them and the government groups involved in implementing the changes. Metro Bus Transport Inc. spokesman Atty. Grace Adducul was quoted in a report saying, “Magkaroon lang po ng koordinasyon, magkaroon pa po ng further studies, ng adjustment… Baka pag nawala na yung mga illegal terminals, naiayos na yung sistema ng trapiko doon, natanggal na yung mga kotong cops, baka naman po ang mga legal na operasyon ng mga legal na bus operators, companies ay hindi na makacause ng traffic sa Maynila…” Translated: “If we could please have more coordination, more studies, and some adjustment. Perhaps if illegal terminals and corrupt cops are eliminated, the legal bus operators will no longer be the cause of traffic jams in Manila…”
There is little that these groups can do, it seems, as there is gathering public support for the new ordinances as reports of positive outcomes coming out of the media pour in. Privately-run public buses and jeepneys along with the “boundary” (commissions-based) system that incentivises anti-social behaviour in their drivers have long been seen to be a major cause of heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
But buses, because of their higher passenger moving capacity, remain the better alternative to the thousands of jeepneys that infest Manila’s streets. The key to their optimal use is in a better system of deploying these within a better-designed and highly-regulated routing system. Because no such system exists in Metro Manila, public utility buses and jeepneys compete for passengers in a laissez-faire manner that sees them jostling for a position at every stop and corner.
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