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.”

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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.]

24 Replies to “Expanded Manila vehicle reduction scheme continues to penalize law-abiding private motorists”

  1. 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. I mean seriously, who was that staff in MMDA that thought it was a bright idea to have these stops on the width of the road itself along the yellow lane? The stopping bus will clearly impede those behind him that don’t need to stop.

    This issue really is infuriating. I really wonder what their traffic planning group is doing in the MMDA HQ?

    1. You need imagination to implement a system that demands discipline. Trouble with Pinoys is that they are among the most imagination-deficited people in the world. A lot of people cannot even see the folly in idiotic solutions like these “vehicle reduction” schemes. They divert law enforcement resources from where the real traffic-snarling violations occur and sick them upon ordinary motorists whose only crime was having the wrong number on his plate on a given day.

      1. I wouldn’t call it a deficit of the imagination as it is a deficit of will.

        I would think that there are plenty of Filipinos with ingenious solutions to the traffic problems but as you explained they don’t want to lose votes – or as I like to describe in the broader scheme of things, “cause trouble.”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. I can’t help but agree!

      As a young student and a commuter, I’ve just been praying and waiting for the government to better the commute system of the country ASAP. My old teacher used to say that commuters in the Philippines are survivors!Safety’s already a big concern. We already have a higher chance of getting robbed, mugged,run over, etc. But why do we also have to deal with the unruly driving of the buses and jeepneys we have to take? They just, for the lack of a better word, suck. Catching a ride is already hard work, but then of course the jeepney or bus driver has a tendency to drop you off in the middle of street! It’s a total inconvenience for the person and the other vehicles on the road. The government needs to not only fix the loading and unloading areas we have but to better educate these drivers.
      We need a better and more efficient public transport system.

    1. That’s a great idea!
      I’m afraid my memory escapes me, but wasn’t the defunct Metro Manila Bus Company (better known as the Love Bus) state-owned? And weren’t they the only allowed bus company to traverse Metro Manila pre-Cory days? The government should really stop giving franchises to bus owners.

      1. I thought it was Metrobus that was state-owned?

        Also it’s ironic that the Love Buses were actually the most decrepit around the time the newer models came around. Then quantity compromised the quality…

  4. 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.

    1. Can they add discipline to that? Seriously. Some just don’t care about the other road users and just think that all they need to do is to go from Point A to Point B no matter what, as long as THEY don’t get hurt. This goes for both PUV and private vehicle drivers.

      Also, it seems like there are anger issues on the road as well. Just earlier while I was driving along Taguig, after passing over the Kalayaan Flyover, two cars stopped IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC because one car seemed to have cut off the other.

  5. 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”.

  6. 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,

    1. Do you see the flaw in your logic? The problems you pointed out are the lack of discipline and the poor performance of law enforcement. Therefore the solution is to penalize ALL road users ESPECIALLY the law abiding drivers with a two day car ban!? That’s stupid.

      1. Where did you get that Private vehicle to PUV ratio joe? Please post a link, otherwise I’m calling bullsh*t. It’s only during rush hour that makes it so difficult to catch a bus or jeepney ride, but from my experience, there are really a lot buses, especially air-conditioned ones, that never get filled with passengers, they just clog traffic over at Cubao and Ortigas, which is why I say there are too many buses on Metro Manila’s roads today.
        Their inefficient MRT mass transport system is another story though…

  7. 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 away from the existing “rush hour” commuters/passengers/motorist.

    But still require the malls to operate their terminals and require the malls to have an off street PUV/PUB/PUJ terminal that is off street.

    All offices within malls are required to relocate within a year of this proposal so that full implementation of the monday closed rule will apply.

    1. Am I understanding this correctly? The MMDA chairman wants to penalize law abiding road users. You on the other hand prefer to penalize businesses that happen to abut EDSA. Worse, you want them to PAY for the privilege of being afflicted by an onerous scheme and providing the infrastructure for the drivers who are the main cause of traffic on EDSA?! That’s idiotic! Changing mall hours will only shift the “rush hour” period and traffic volume around. It doesn’t reduce it or even begin to manage the situation.

      1. @Johnny

        I don’t think you even understood my post.

        One, malls are not offices, hence the office rush hour stays the same on weekdays. You are only pushing the mall traffic later so they don’t coincide with the office rush hour.

        Two, malls won’t be penalized. In fact they will benefit. Why? They will get better return on operational expenses as they don’t have to turn their buildings for 2 hours a day from tuesday to friday when their is the least amount of traffic and actual spending happening inside. Hence they actual get better return for operating expenses.

        Third, by closing it off on a Monday (which is the least traffic for the malls anyway), it benefits everyone. There peak power needs on Monday is lowered, the mall gets better return again for operating expenses because again, Monday is I believe the lowest return date and lastly, you get a real off day for mall employees.

        The weekday mall operating hours will now only be 12pm to 9pm, which fulfill a regular 8 hour day work week which also benefits employees given a 1 hour break for dinner within or 45 dinner 15 minutes coffee (whichever preferred).

        It is not idiotic and is a proposed means of alleviating the traffic load. This is for both public and private. Private will not go to mall (if any) to open store or walk around by leaving their house before 10am. Commuters will also not be part of the rush hour commuter traffic so reduce the volume in MRT and buses.

        They should still work on the bus niches as I repeatedly say and limited highways to buses only and have only designated stops. That is a fact. But this is the one that is easiest to implement while they still work on that as they would need to purchase the portions of land for the stops as well as construct them.

        So again Johnny, not idiotic if you understand how it helps a little.

        A little goes a long way.

        I don’t add more cars to the road or commuter to the road at the rush hour schedule. And rush hour is not moved as you are only moving the mall traffic (employees and patrons). Where did you get the idea that rush hour will be moved by moving the weekday mall schedule?

        Do you honestly believe that weekday rush hour is caused by mall traffic only?

        Again, I am surprised by your reply and how you understood my proposed “help”. I am not saying it will completely solve it but I am saying that it will help. They should still promote discipline more and more.

        So Cheers! And next time, please try to understand and respond rationally instead of calling me idiotic.

      2. For those that don’t understand as well, I am not proposing closure of business during the time I mentioned. I am simply saying they should apply to malls or big commercial centers like Market Market, SM Megamall, Robinsons Galleria etc.

        So the government should define what constitutes a mall and what is not to clearly separate the two. Businesses outside of these malls like restaurants and stores are not affected as they are not a traffic sink per se like malls.

        You also really need an off street terminal for PUJ/PUB/PUVs for these types of buildings or art least a shared one for those within the same vicinity/location. The reason being is their volume of traffic is high and since my idea revolves around buses only in highways (not limited to just EDSA), they would need a way to transfer to other modes of transport.

        The idea is somewhat sound and illustrated by SM in MOA and Megamall. The only problem is (for and NorthEDsa specifically) is the actual location. It is too close to the intersection of North Avenue to EDSA which means the merging traffic is tying up there along with the existence of that u turn slot after west avenue which creates a whole load of problems for that area in terms of traffic. This relates to proper planning/positioning of the terminals as well.

        But this will take time to implement (actually locating the terminal, and building it) as either a private initiate as return to the community for malls or by the LGU concrened that needs to define the other stops anyway.


  8. 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.

  9. 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 and uncoordinated U-turn schemes.

    This reduced coverage, the effectiveness of the signalization was drastically reduced and with it the overall capacity of the network. Most, if not all, of what remains have outdated timing patterns.

    If we want to keep traffic flowing smoothly on EDSA, we need to remove those U-turns in favor of a proper traffic signaling system that adapts to the changes in volume throughout the day. And it goes without saying we need a proper mass transit system; either a BRT or rail. Not the chaotic mess of buses racing up and down the highway scrambling for commuters.

    1. @Johnny

      You can’t completely remove the bus as they are the ones that stop in between where the trains don’t. However, the government has never been able to provide (yet) a proper location that is not part of the width of the thoroughfare to location stops/waiting areas. These should be niched and away from the flow of traffic so that when a bus stops, it does not block the bus behind. It will then compliment the yellow lane restriction that buses can’t go outside of it.

      Jeeps should not be allowed on the highway and so should the FXs to be honest. It should be bus only. Other countries have designated bus numbers and stops for each one. We are slowly crawling there with the ABC Bus system but again, a lot is still lacking here.

      No matter how automated your stoplights are, if everything else is clogged up, there is nothing the system can do.

      By widening and widening the roads, it will still not help when you don’t have disciplined drivers who disregard the fact that they create bottlenecks (explanation is located in the article but if you want it to be expanded upon I will elaborate how it happens).

      Everyone insists on building flyovers or express roads, but to do that, you need an ironfist that will buy the affected property out no questions asked. So this will infringe on rights. So you may want to think twice about this. Flyovers need to turn and don’t have intersections so they will need a minimum inside turning radius of about 6m minimum, going tighter than that will be dangerous.

      Increasing the efficiency of mass transit is the biggest way this can move forward, not more roads as roads will eventually create more intersections. At least not yet.

      U-turn slots work on some occassion while not on some. The most ideal is a rotunda to remove the intersection of 2 major roads, however, the government sometimes implements this poorly with a poor turning radius. I can cite an example of this if you want, but I hope that is at least clear.


      1. Overall, you can have entire intersections replaced with roundabouts, and it still wouldn’t matter. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if the traffic laws were enforced by snipers trained to take out the tires of offending vehicles, if not do what gamers would call a “pilot snipe” (or sniping the cockpit)…

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