Expanded Manila vehicle reduction scheme continues to penalize law-abiding private motorists

edsa_trafficIt wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to predict the response the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will get if it extends the proposed expansion of the ‘number coding scheme’ to the city’s privately-operated public utility vehicles (PUVs). Under Metro Manila’s current Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), vehicles ending in any one of two license plate number endings assigned to each day of the work week are banned from the road.

Under the present UVVRP, vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 are barred from using EDSA and other major metro roads every Monday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Vehicles with license plates ending in 2 and 3 are barred from EDSA and other major streets every Tuesday; 4 and 5 (Wednesday); 6 and 7 (Thursday); 8 and 9 (Friday). The UVVRP is not implemented on weekends and during public holidays.

Under the present UVVRP, a “window” period is allowed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. except in Makati City where the scheme is effective for the entire day. Other cities such as Marikina and Taguig, do not implement the UVVRP.

The expansion of the scheme now being proposed by the MMDA involves assigning four number endings per day…

Under the modified UVVRP, vehicles with license plates ending in 1,2,3 and 4 would be banned from using EDSA the whole day on Mondays; 5,6,7,8 (Tuesday); 9,0,1,2 (Wednesday); 3,4,5,6 (Thursday) and 7,8,9,0 (Friday).

As for the applicability of the new scheme to the metropolis’s unruly public utility buses and jeepneys, “[MMDA Chairman Francis] Tolentino said that it would be up to the MMC to decide whether public utility vehicles (PUVs) such as buses and jeepneys that also use EDSA, would be covered by the modified UVVRP.”

But just like Metro Manila’s millions of squatters, public utility vehicle operators and drivers are special to the country’s politicians. Many of the operators of bus and jeepney fleets are patronage entrepreneurs, many of them relatives of local and national officials and, still others, members of the military and police force. It is therefore very unlikely that the proposal to include them in the new scheme will fly and, as usual, it will be private motorists who will be penalised by the new ordinance.

It is also widely-recognised that a key contributor to the infernal congestion in Metro Manila’s roads is caused not by volume alone but by a fragmented and, as such, sub-optimal traffic management system and the appalling me-first attitude prevalent among Filipino motorists this system breeds. This is particularly pronounced in drivers of public utility vehicles, who are incentivised through a perversely entrepreneurial frame rather than on a public service one.

Cracking down on PUV drivers' anti-social driving style is un-Filipino.
Cracking down on PUV drivers’ anti-social driving style is un-Filipino.
In fact, a popular urban legend in the Philippines is that Filipino bus drivers have standing orders, in the event of an accident involving a pedestrian, to make sure the victim is dead — usually by putting their vehicles in reverse after an accident to run over the victim one more time for good measure. That way, the cost of compensation involves a one-time funeral expense rather than a lifetime of support for a surviving victim. Perhaps that is why so many crashes involving buses are so violent. Killing is part of the job description.

The commission-based “boundary” system upon which PUVs ply their trade is but one component of a systemic problem that festered as the lack of a coherent broad-based mass transit plan for Philippine cities endured following the destruction in World War II of the system built by the United States colonial government. Instead of a state-run system or one highly-regulated privately-run operation, the challenge of public transportation was tackled with the small-mindedness that has come to characterise the Filipino Way of doing things — using the now familiar stop-gap tingi measures consistent with the Philippines’ heritage of smallness.

You wonder then why the obvious solution — cracking down on the barbaric driving styles of bus and jeepney drivers — is considered to be a no-go-zone when it comes to developing “solutions” to Manila’s hellish traffic. Indeed, it seems Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista failed to see the irony in his words when he “told reporters that he is not in favor of including PUVs under the modified UVVRP as it would be a burden on the commuting public.” You’d expect that sort of drivel of course from a politician desperate for votes from a constituency whose minds are infected by a squatter mentality.

The fact of the matter is, Metro Manila’s PUVs operating under the current pwede-na-yan system have done colossal damage to the Pearl of the Orient over the last sixty years since the United States granted the Philippines its independence in 1946. Yet here we are, mulling over “solutions” to the capital city’s traffic mess that, yet again, ignore the big ugly elephant in the room.

[Photo of buses clogging EDSA courtesy Boylit De Guzman.]


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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24 Comments on "Expanded Manila vehicle reduction scheme continues to penalize law-abiding private motorists"

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Bottlenecking of traffic is the main cause of our traffic woes as stated in the article. Anyway, simple question. Was this proposed “solution” to our traffic woes coming from a legitimate graduate of traffic management planning or a traffic planner/master planner? Because honestly, they should leave it to these professionals as it is outside of their “reach” (mentally in solving). We need buses to be the only PUVs on highways. Jeeps and FX maybe allowed on major roads but not highways like C5 or EDSA. We need niches or recesses for proper PUV/PUJ/PUB designated stops for pickup or drop off.… Read more »
Jon Limjap

Why are there tons of private vehicles out there?

Because people who can afford them don’t want to take public transport. Not because they’re insufferable snobs, but because public transport is inefficient as hell.

What will they do when the number coding scheme is expanded?

Buy a 2nd or even third car that will allow them to drive every day anyway.

Traffic solved? Nope. Volume reduced? Nope.

It’s not just an elephant. It’s a whole fraking herd of elephants crammed in a VW Beetle.


This proposed coding scheme was crafted by a moron who simply does not have the wisdom nor the expertise nor the political will to do the right thing. Instead of focusing on colorum buses, unruly jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs, & putting in place a system for public transport to be truly efficient, this imbecile penalizes the private car owners as a means to cut corners. I am really infuriated by this proposal! Is there a group who can help us fight this because I am truly fed up w/ this MMDA, & I will fully support this group whoever they are.


Someone suggested to limit one bus company to only one route. Sounds feasible.

Johnny Saint

This is ludicrous!

Chairman Tolentino and Mayor Bautista have apparently never traveled on EDSA without a police escort. Otherwise they would be aware that the primary causes of bottlenecks on Metro Manila’s main artery are the PUV drivers. If you removed ALL private vehicles from EDSA, there would still be traffic jams at the intersections and at Guadalupe.

If they insist on implementing this scheme, it should be applied to PUVs instead of private vehicles.


We’ve spoken on this subject before so I won’t bother rehashing the OBVIOUS solutions to the traffic problems in the Metro.

However, this latest “bright idea” from the MMDA is yet another in a long line of “things that make you say what the f@*k”! How any so-called Government Agency Chairman could come up with such an INSANE idea is beyond me.

I have to agree with “Johnny Saint” and second the motion to apply this “scheme” to “PUVs instead of private vehicles”.


i am a daily commuter. its true that private vehicles dominate the number of edsa. there is 200thousand private compare to 15thousnad public vehicles. the problem is the city operations buses. they are not disiplined unlike provincial buses. plus we lack trains. the enforces are not doing their job. dotc is not doing their job to penalized undisiplined drivers. phase out the 15 yr old buses. i will agree with 2x a week coding if there is a efficient mass transport plus it will also benefit our air quality,

I have a proposal other than PUV/PUB/PUJ stops being niched from the actual width of the road/thoroughfare. Why don’t they require that all malls be closed off every Monday and that for weekdays, all malls are to open from 12pm onwards only. Monday is the start of the work week and you just came off from a Sunday weekend so the actual need for the mall is too limited during Monday. Plus that reduces “monday” eneergy needs. As for weekdays, requiring the malls to only be open from 12pm onwards will offset the employees and “Excited patrons” of the mall… Read more »
Johnny Saint

The MMDA “experiments” during Bayani Fernando’s time, and now Chairman Tolentino’s “proposals” are prime examples of the government’s failure at traffic management.

Our road network is thoroughly inadequate. We should be developing schemes to maximize its capacity. That is the primary objective of traffic management, and the daily chore of MMDA. Unfortunately, their answer has always been to avoid it by attempting to get vehicles off the roads. Out of sight isn’t necessarily out of mind.

Johnny Saint
So the real question we have to answer is: How do we get the most throughput from our limited road space? The most effective way is to rehabilitate, upgrade and expand the computerized traffic signaling system to enable coordination of signal timing and patterns across the road network, from one intersection to the next. Since the time of Cory Aquino, the system has expanded to cover over 400 intersections. Instead of maintaining and expanding the system, like what a modern metropolis should do, Metro Manila moved backward and dismantled nearly 50 percent of the intersections in favor of the primitive… Read more »