Why Metro Manila’s horrific traffic will NEVER be ‘solved’

Just what we need. More requests for “patience” and “understanding”. That is what Malacanang beseeches Filipinos to show while the government pays lip service to the decades-long but fruitless effort to “solve” Metro Manila’s infamously hellish traffic.

According to Malacanang mouthpiece Herminio Coloma Jr, the government puts foremost importance in the livelihood of Filipinos and recognises the importance of the health of businesses that are affected by Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic jams. Words like these are small comfort to most Filipinos. Patience they say is a virtue. Thus, if so, Filipinos are likely to be the most virtuous people on the planet.

Hopelessness, helplessness, and isolation grips Filipino motorists and commuters everyday.
Hopelessness, helplessness, and isolation grips Filipino motorists and commuters everyday.
Traffic hell has long been the bane of the existence of Metro Manila’s hapless residents. It sucks the life out of them — literally. The average Metro Manilan will spend more than 10 years of her life stuck in traffic, the equivalent of a prison term for a murderer. The government’s asking for “patience” and “understanding” is no different to the routine assurance we give many victims of the Philippines’ violent crimes that justice will be served.

We can all but take stock of the sad futility in the government’s limpdicked efforts to “solve” Metro Manila’s traffic mess. U-turn slots, counterflow systems, more roads, more flyovers, truck bans, truck lanes, odd-even schemes, yadda yadda. All of these quaint measures to “solve” traffic are examples of Filipinos’ small-minded approach to solving its problems. Most of these problems are results of failures to anticipate them when there was opportunity to mitigate them. They are a testament to the Filipinos’ world-renowned national affliction: an abject lack of imagination.

It does not take much imagination to see the idiocy in the way land public transport routes have been managed by the Philippine government. These have all been doled out willy-nilly to two-bit bus and jeepney operators — probably in exchange for gratuitous “commissions” these operators were happy to fork out to officials. Why do you need to build a new room in your house if all you need to do to get back some personal space is to kick out mooching relatives camped in your pad rent-free while they “look for a job” — for the 20th year and counting?

Indeed, the thinking that goes on in the pointed heads of the Philippines’ bright boys goes something like this:

We need to build more roads so that buses and jeeps can continue hogging three lanes in major highways when loading and unloading their passengers.

You know your government is bullshitting you when it does nothing to address the obvious solutions and instead chooses to spend tens of millions of dollars on “projects” that are nothing more than temporary workarounds. And that, essentially, is what the Philippines is, a massive temporary solution on a national scale — the outcome of lots of small-minded “actions” underpinned by very little thinking.

Indeed, the jugular of the vast urban cancer that is comprised of private bus and jeepney operators laying waste to the Philippines’ premiere metropolis lies in just two points — (1) the vehicle registration process and (2) the public route franchise licensing process. The government has full control of both of those lifelines to the bus-and-jeepney cancer that is holding Metro Manila hostage. It can shut down any further issuance of licenses to these operators — tomorrow.

Of course, that solution is just too obvious. There’s billions of pesos to be spent on “infrastructure projects” and billions more to be skimmed off that and diverted to officials’ “preferred” contractors and NGOs. To the typical thieving government official, the obvious solutions simply don’t make business sense — which is why Filipinos shouldn’t hold their breath. The investment in “patience” and “understanding” the government is asking them to make will yield ZERO return. The system is rigged to fail Filipinos by design.

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46 Comments on “Why Metro Manila’s horrific traffic will NEVER be ‘solved’”

  1. I said it before and I say it again.

    GET OUSIDE HELP from professionals and then stick to the new rules!

    Since that will never happen, your explanation remains 100% spot on.

  2. The good news is…WAIT….WAIT…..WAIT FOR IT!

    BWAH HA HA HA…just kidding!!! There is no good news!

    The country is screwed, sitting in traffic for ten years of your life MANILANO’S, or a ‘hot-shot’ of brown sugar! That is the question!

  3. Basically the government’s response is:

    “We will solve this problems eventually … (not specified when)”

    So it’s basically a one big screw you to everyone else who is not a politician.

    I once tolerated about these ‘projects’ but if they never were designed for long term progress then the entire NCR can collapse if something as big as Yolanda comes knocking at our door.

  4. Government must take over the mass transportation.

    At least, along EDSA, the government must manage a monopoly of state own bus system. Private bus companies will never improve and cooperate with government.

    It is impossible to build more roads in Metro Manila and or widen existing roads. The solution left is to control the volumes of cars travelling. If the government can take over and modernise bus system, then people would be encourage to use buses more.

  5. Funny that our highways are patterned from Indonesia (and guess what, they hired Indonesian consultants in most of these highway projects too!) while Indonesia is suffering from a worse traffic case compared to ours.

    And now our traffic situation is getting closer to theirs. Ohhh well.

  6. No Traffic Czar could solved the problem. How many new cars are being sold in the country and with the existing narrow roads, the result is traffic snarls everywhere. Additionally, lots of drivers do not follow road and traffic signs. As I said, nobody, just nobody can resolve the traffic mess of MM.

  7. Of course it can be solved.

    For one, you have to limit the number of buses plying the major roads at any one time. Determine the mos efficient of buses for a specific route. The best way is to have bus schedules along every stop.

    Also, provide alternative bus routes, not only along the major thoroughfares but also through other less busy roads.

    Re-educate (real lessons) all drivers, public and private. Re-exam (real examinations) afterwards. Those who cannot pass, no driver’s license, even if it means loss of livelihood.

    Remove the jeepney and tricycles at least on major arteries. For short routes, encourage biking (bike lanes) or just walk – note no motors, that means no underbones. Better general health, too.

    Implement more visual presence of traffic policemen, note – real policemen. Implement real speed limits and traffic cameras.

    Fine all violators heavily, including jaywalkers, street vendors and others who are contributing to traffic jams.

    Sounds simple? If we remove the reasons and justifications why the above cannot be implemented from the picture, then the solutions are really simple.

  8. Why does everything need to be in one place? We have so much land for industries and coasts for ports. Subic, Clark, etc. were once prioritized for development. Now, these are ghost towns with rundown remnants of the businesses there. Should have become bustling cities on their own by now.

    1. Have you ever tried to get a place in Clark? The rental they are asking is unrealistically high and things are extremely complicated. They are fucking nuts. So companies walk away. Why it’s like that? Corruption! What else. The people in charge up there are fat, corrupt swines.

      1. Thanks for posting. If this is the case in Clark (or Subic?), this is a major concern for all of us! It explains a lot about the congestion problem we are in, and why some perceived solutions are not working! Grabe na ‘to! Somebody should deeply look into this.

  9. It’s amazing how the number of people who travel and PUVs that go to biyahe in Metro Manila never halts even on weekends. By the way, add FXs and family van to the buses, taxis and jeepneys. I guess the new philosophy today is, “those who can’t do namamasada.” Pasig ferry boat was once a promising reduction to transportation problem but I guess the air emitted by the waters is hazardous to health? While the old-fashioned train… is still old fashioned.

  10. It follows that a busy populated city would have a pack of commuters that made transportation business one of the IN business in Metropolis. Imagine how much earnings the government could have collected if they are able to produce state of the art passenger trains/means of transport that can carry most of the commuters (besides reducing the wasted time cause by traffic that could’ve gone to accomplishing other things).

    1. This will also cut the project on road widening since the purpose of that project is to support the ever growing numbers of vehicles that crowded the road. The “budget” for such project can be channeled to a more promising one.

  11. I’ve been to other countries and the only thing that…

    1. I notice is there’s no jeepneys- what I mean is, there’s only one public transpo and that is Gov’t owned buses that has a strict time schedule.

    2. They focused/put their funds on their own Metro, even though their metro consists of 4-6 lines, they pretty much accommodate the traffic infested places.

    please take note their Metro are underground Subways.

    Philippines is too late to modify existing MRT & LRT but its never too late to make this adjustments.

    Kaso hindi parin ako aasa na giginhawa un traffic. sa 2020 siguro :))

  12. Our government needs to think out of the box how to solve this horrific monstrous traffic congestion in our city, to encourage more commuters to use public transportation instead of using their car just like Bolivia’s government; we should have our own cable car. For sure, this is a hit for all those who wanted to see the air polluted cities of Metro Manila and want to go to work on time.

  13. hopefully the next Govt will do its utmost to implement a BRT scheme like what a South American country has, scheduled buses & specially modified, no steps on doors just the entrance & exit, so that it can only let people in & out at specific bus stops.

    Also go SG when it comes to private cars, taxed to almost half its sticker prize and only allowed to be registered for a number of years.

    and deny car buyers, those who can afford it with the new tax, that cannot show proof that they have a garage, so that they wont park it wherever they want

  14. Others have proposed possible long-term solutions to the traffic problem of Metro Manila. Taken together all of these will be able to drastically reduce traffic congestion. Some solutions are all too obvious but they all require collective effort and a lot of political will.

    -Get rid of all obsolete jeepneys, buses, tricycles and pedicabs. Put them all to scrap.
    -Consolidate all bus transit companies (incl. jeepney and tricycle associations) going in and out of Metro Manila into one unified a semi-private mass transportation company or something similar to take over all mass transit operations.
    -Purchase brand-new buses, e-jeepneys and e-tricycles, and limit their numbers.
    -New buses will have specific routes and will be limited to major thoroughfares, expressways and wide avenues and streets.
    -New e-jeepneys will be concentrated on mid-sized roads and streets.
    -New e-trikes will be limited to residential areas and the narrowest roads.
    -Taxi numbers to be limited and managed by one or two taxi companies.
    -New infrastructure – strategically located terminals connecting buses with light rail, and bus-only tracks or something akin to bus rapid transit systems.
    -Coordinated electronic payment system applicable to all modes of mass transportation (with options for cash payment) via magnetic cards or tickets.
    -All mass transit employees will have fixed salaries.
    -Those drivers and others (such as dispatchers) currently employed with the old system who will be displaced will be provided new employment (with gov’t support). Hopefully these reforms and other changes will go in conjunction with the increase of jobs available that comes with foreign investment in expanding manufacturing. Expectedly, not all those currently employed in mass transportation will retain their jobs. Former jeepney drivers and others should find new, more stable and better paying jobs elsewhere.
    -Construction of parking areas to encourage carpooling.
    -Bike lanes and motorcycle only lanes. Implementation of right-of-way for bicycles, among other incentives for bike riders.
    -Stricter enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. Incentives (such as gas subsidies) for those commuters with clean traffic records.

    These ideas are just off the top ofy head. Hopefully others will have similar or better ideas to solve Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

    The problems of Metro Manila are not entirely insurmountable to practically minded people. But Filipinos ARE NOT a practical people. We all know Filipinos are a people that prioritizes drama over efficiency, style over substance, politics over practicality, flair over precision. Instead of combining long-term solutions, we have only short-term half-assed schemes. They’ll only apply a band-aid over a wound, instead of cleaning up the wound, dressing it properly and taking precautions to avoid getting hurt.

      1. Typical idiotic, non-contributing response.

        He offers possible solutions that may help the metro, but people like you (pretty much that’s the majority) can’t help but immediately dismiss these ideas. Then what? “Masanay ka na lang”?

        1. Sadly it’s to be expected RandomCommenter, hence why people like him prove the point I made in my last paragraph.

          You give criticism and you’re accused of being negative for negativity’s sake then they’ll tell you to contribute solutions to the problem instead. But when you do give possible solutions, you get responses like that, “Ikaw na lang maging Presidente!”

          Like I said, practically minded people will be open to any possible solutions.

          They’re imbeciles. They deserve their own hopeless miserable state.

      2. FYI, way back 2010, some guys with capability run for presidency, but who did you guys put into office, a 50-year-old non-achiever.

        “What a maroon!!”
        -Bugs Bunny

      3. Stupid excuse is stupid. Indeed, big minds (like Jmac) talk about solutions while small minds (like you dimwit) talk about people. I hope you’re crying like a baby from suffering imperial manila’s hell you turd.

  15. There’s also the Filipinos lack of common sense when it comes to job qualifications. Traffic problems are an engineering, logistical and city-planning problem. Instead of assigning engineers and city planners to solve this problem, who do Filipinos put in charge?

    LAWYERS.

    So stupid.

    1. Would those engineers be required to ride the train to work? Would lawyers be qualified if they rode the train to work?

      😉

      1. Like joeld said, engineers tend to have a different approach to solving problems. It’s a more ‘grounded’ approach to solving problems so to speak. Lawyers tend to have a ‘legalistic’ approach.

        Compare former MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando’s (engineer) stint to the current chairman Francis Tolentino’s (lawyer). Also, almost all the top government officials of China are scientists and engineers. Their government’s authoritarianism aside, their style of leadership tends to be more pragmatic. Imagine if in a democracy, scientists and engineers are running government instead of lawyers or career politicians.

    2. Speaking from a typical person hailing from the engineering profession point of view, we engineers tend to find out by ourselves first hand, if our implemented changes are/were successful. That is why “trial and trial, error and error” is popular among the engineering profession.

      It would be most probable that he would try to commute, at least, if only to find out if his expectations are met.

      No offense to the lawyer but this is where having the right tool for the job comes in. Jmac does have a valid point.

      Bias me, 🙂

  16. “Patience and Understanding”, my Ass. They could have solved the traffic problems, a long time ago.

    Just Decongest the Metro Manila area from SQUATTERS. However, these people are the Sources of Block Votes of politicians, like Aquino and Estrada. So, no way they will do it.

    And , Disperse the Industries and Commercial Centers to other provinces; and other parts of the country. They will never do this; because they are the sources of “lagay”. Corruption prevails over public good. This is Aquino way of politics.

    Unless, you will Rattle these idiots; they will never budge and move.

  17. You are right on the spot. You got the problem as is. Indeed if you regulate and discipline, jeepneys, buses and all other kinds of “public transportation” the problem will be solved. not even spending a peso for a new road!!! But spending on new roads is so much money flows to all kinds of comissions, creating imaginery jobs etc. All these big companies of buses and strong unions of jeepneys they do control the goverment towards to their own profit by not giving a second thought to the people.
    From the other side, traffic enforcers are 99% hiding behind trap spots looking to catch and extort anyone violating a hidden no trun right sign while in their back is a bottle neck traffic with all kinds of violations from the untouchables the buses and jeepneys.
    All that i see needed is political determination to regulate and discipline this chaos created by an ill system. I do have my hopes though to the other side of businesses. The ones who loose billions due to the traffic and incapacity to move their goods in timely manner. They are the only ones who can push the goverment to solve (really solve) the problem. So all that is in stake for the final solution is who will pay more to the goverment to provide a solution for their profit. As for the filipino citizen…you’re just a screwed voter with no options than to vote one or another actor who all work for the people with money. You the filipino is only getting fooled that you live in a democracy where you have the right to vote…vote for the same system on different politician’s name with great demagogue capabilities.

  18. Please eradicate from the face of the earth the public jeepneys. They are not only a plague to society, but their constant negligence for the public is hair-raising. We must abolish these monsters. They are the major cause of the bottlenecks in metro manila!

  19. WHO and HOW can we solve all these Problem?

    “Politicians (even if they were sincere) cannot solve all these problem because that have no technical capabilities, poor problem solving skills and lacks observations/imagination (no vision) and bad organization skills (since politician are mostly lawyers – nature of work are disputes/chaos).

    Architects, Engineers, planners, Scientist researchers & technical people are trained to solve all these problems because they have the capability, experience &know how to design, plan & construct building, community & cities – making all our lives & environment a better & safer a place.

    http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2014/09/why-metro-manilas-horrific-traffic-will-never-be-solved/comment-page-1/#comment-691450

    SO WHY NOT USE THEM?

    1. @ $20 Billion annual remittance
    Philippines main Export commodity are OFW (modern day hero or form of slavery), Philippines role will always be to supply of cheap/quality labor to the world.

    Our Government always Export our Best People (OFW w/c are hard-working, productive, highly skilled & intellectual) which result to “Brain Drain”. And forever relied on their dollar remittances to fuel our economy. Those left behind (lazy & AMPAW) who are tasked or voted to lead our nation and others are appointed to vital positions in the government.

    “It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and master, and intends to be the master” – Ayn Rand

    2. Ruling Profession or majority of our POLITICIANS are ff.:

    a. Popular Actors/celebrities – whose nature of work is movies/TV (fantasy or not real world), often Lack of political acumen due to poor observation & awareness of the real problems of our country. An actor turned politicians can easily be manipulated (puppet) by people around him.

    Just because someone is popular (name recognition & charisma to capture votes and manipulate our mass with looks, smooth talk, act, sing or dance around important issues) doesn’t make him a leader.

    b. Lawyers – whose nature of work are disputes of legal matters (negative). They simply talk or discuss & disagree/argue with one another and often forgets logic and reasoning. So they usually end up fighting w/ one another. Thus, no one cares anymore, who is right and who is wrong. All that matters is who is friend and who is foe.

    “Being in a fight creates a new frame of mind, attitudes, expectations, and reactions that comes w/ arguing. Because the parts of the brain that handle reason and logic will be dormant. And the parts of the brain that handle hostile attacks — the fight-or-flight response — lit up.”

    This is why our political system is so divided and Philippines remains to be a 3rd World.

    We need Leaders from other professions like the ff.:

    a. Architects/Engineers – whose nature of is to Create/Build/Plan (positive)

    b. Doctors – (Dr. Mahathir) who cured & made Malaysia a very healthy (wealthy) nation.

  20. For me it should lie in efficient mass transpo system.
    I come from a sales profession and I’d rather get stuck in traffic than to ride the LRT and smell like a can of sardines after- I have to meet a lot of clients for the whole day and can’t afford to have that “just commuted” look – I am sorry for sounding so superficial but I am required to be superficial for my job.

    I am sure a lot of people who can afford to purchase cars purchase cars due to the same reason- Mass public Transport SUCKS!Now I don’t have any technical know how on how to build good Transport infrastructure but perhaps we could use S. Korea and Singapore as our models- Wherein there are transport systems for those outside and within the city and the terminals are integrated to central city business movement.

  21. Back in the 60’s we had one Highway 54 which later on became EDSA. The sad part of this is that the city planners forgot or never implemented the construction of newer roadways. what should have been done was not done. During present times we have more vehicles. Solutions were made to reduce traffic by number coding and this did not work either. Add the drainage infrastructure and you have flooded roadways. Mass transit was also subject to number coding without reduction. The trucks problem is still there. Will a night shift help instead of number coding or time coding? This laid back government of BS Aquino will never solve problems.Incompetence and ineptitude is present in public works infrastructure and even our trains have no maintenance! My God! They cannot even solve criminality and other problems in this country. BS Aquino and his “student council” is truly inutile!

  22. Expand the metro to adjacent cities and provinces like CALABARZON and north luzon. Manila is too congested with people and business. There is simply no space to build more roads and bridges even if those billions are actually going to be spent on those.

    Expanding the city will help nourish those provinces with tech and businesses. Instead of all the people trying to go to Metro Manila (because the jobs are here), they can stay in their respective provinces and live a better life there.

    1. Honestly, I prefer industrialization to stay away from provinces if it means destroying the vast natural resources or they’re doing business there so as to pay provincial rate to the employees. You know, factories erected in the provinces take advantage of the provincial/minimum rate and regularization isn’t a rule. We have poor kababayan there who for years are contractual employees and are still earning as little as when they started for work.

  23. Blah blah blah blah
    All talk
    zero action
    lots of stealing
    nothing ever changes

    repeat 2015
    Blah blah blah blah
    All talk
    zero action
    lots of stealing
    nothing ever changes

    repeat 2016 and on and on and on

  24. Most of you are blaming the government, and your “obvious solution” is to nationalize public transport? Which of course will be run by the government, like the LRT/MRT?
    It would be easier to just get the traffic cops to do their jobs, and to impound the vehicles owned by the cartels that are friends of the LTO.
    There MUST be a way for citizens to hold traffic cops accountable for their actions. We need to find a way to do that.

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