Facing Manila’s traffic hell: Access to public transport is a right, owning a car is but a privilege

And so here we are, helplessly facing a future of traffic hell as all these road constructions start. To think we all raised a royal tantrum over Dan Brown’s describing Manila as the “gates of hell” in his book Inferno. What have Metro Manila’s residents done to deserve this? Well, quite simply nothing. They did nothing as all the warning signs creeped up on them over the last 20 years. Despite being the ultimate kingmakers of their government (thanks to The Vote), Metro Manilans pretty much sat on their hands and watched their beloved city go down the toilet.

manila_traffic_mmdaYou wonder, though, with the majority of Metro Manila’s residents unable to afford their own cars, why hadn’t politicians with visions of turning their city into a pedestrian- and public transport-friendly paradise been consistently voted into office?

Oh, I forgot, Filipinos don’t vote for politicians on the basis of their visions of the future.

For me, the key principle at work here is simple:

Whereas access to public transport is a right, owning personal transport is but a mere privilege.

Most Filipinos, bizarrely, fail to understand that — which is why the politicians they elect don’t.

In Singapore, owning a car is deemed an expensive privilege granted by the government to its citizens. I read a few days ago that it could cost up to US$50,000 to secure the right to own a car there — and that’s after winning a government-managed lottery to give out slots for that right.

If you think about it, owning and driving a car in the Philippines is supposed to be a privilege too. The fact that it is the Philippine government that issues drivers licenses and regulates vehicle registration proves this. Kung baga, what the government giveth the government can taketh away. If our politicians were really serious about reducing traffic in Metro Manila, it could act tomorrow and start revoking licenses and registrations. Come to think about it, they do that already — but in a half-assed manner: through the license plate “coding scheme” that prevents us from using certain roads on certain days depending on the number on your license plate. But that no longer proves effective. Traffic is gridlocked just the same.

Then I also read that only two percent of Filipinos own and drive cars. Wow. Two percent of the population causing 99 percent of its grief on the road — that’s just wrong. We like to think of ourselves as a “democratic” people but there is nothing democratic about the majority suffering so that two percent of us could make porma in our million-peso cars. For that matter, what is so ma-porma about driving that obnoxious SUV when you spend most of your time crawling at two kilometers per hour? If you think about it, there is really something dumb about paying the extra hundred-odd thousand pesos on extra horsepower you’d hardly be using. Considering that the average road speed in Metro Manila will hardly ever take your shiny steel horse past a trot, that’s money that could hardly be considered well-spent.

Mga Pinoy talaga. Metro Manilans are like the proverbial frog sitting in the pot being boiled alive slowly.

In other societies, the inhumanity we suffer under Metro Manila’s hellish environment would be nothing short of an outrage. But because we’ve had our minds conditioned to be tolerant of urban dysfunction for decades, we’re all quite happy to suffer in silence as Manila’s roads turn into a huge 24-hour parking lot. And even when we get out of this mess — sometime after 2017, we are told — the only people coming out of this happy will be all those high rollers jetting in from Taiwan and cruising on their brand-new highway from the airport straight into Manila’s glitzy ocean-front casinos. Yes, indeedy, Pinoys will, as usual, be left with the thinnest slice of the pie.

* * *

Speaking of stuck-in-traffic, what I consider really strange is how the nation’s jeepney drivers still manage to go home after a day driving their Kings of the Road and impregnate their wives six to eight times over the course of their fertile life. I always thought sitting around with the family jewels stuck in tight jeans under the hot sun causes low sperm count. Maybe that’s another thing to add to the list of things Filipinos should be proud about — our ability to multiply like rabbits despite the odds.

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47 Comments on “Facing Manila’s traffic hell: Access to public transport is a right, owning a car is but a privilege”

  1. Maybe, just maybe, the jeepney drivers are NOT the biological dads. What about the next door neighbour?

    In many countries, to own a car is not seen as a privilege (except maybe in Cuba). Its up to the car owner what kind of transportation he/she will use for going to work or going places. Its up to the government to make this decision in favour of public transport by either making public transport – at least – cheaper than private transport but also as economic and efficient as the private transport vehicle.

    1. Yes! That’s actually better than saying gov’t giveth and taketh away. That’s terrible. The only case for public transport ought to be to compete well with private means. That doesn’t solve Metro Manila traffic, of course, but maybe there’s a different angle to the problem, like why are we congested in Manila to begin with, when we have so much land compared to Singapore? Maybe it has more to do with decongesting opportunities concentrated in one place. With all the lengths Singapore goes through in reducing the number of cars on the roads (COE, ERP, weekend cars, etc.), there’s still heavy rush hour traffic. Public Transport is also competitive, so it’s a two-pronged approach. It is very much necessary for a city-state; as it were, it takes all the running you can do to stay at the same place.

    2. Robert,

      When has a government-run agency ever been as efficient and/or cheaper than a privately managed enterprise?

      Consider New York’s subway system. Most people believe it was the city government that built the subways. Most of them were actually built by private companies. In New York, it was the private sector that dug the tunnels and managed public transport until the city government decided to step in. This was about the time the private company proposed raising the subway fare to five cents. There was a lot of self-righteous outrage from local politicians, who forbade the increase and eventually took over the subways.

      They promised to keep prices low while improving service. They did neither. To-day, subway fares are at around US$2.25. And they still manage to lose money every year. Who makes up the difference? Taxpayers, in the form of billions of dollars in subsidies.

      Contrast that with the Hong Kong MTR. It’s a privately run franchise that is clean and efficient and — above all — PROFITABLE. I’ll say it again: The world’s only profitable mass transit system is privately run.

      If you want public (i.e. government) mass transport to be efficient and economic, the best solution is to turn it into a PRIVATELY RUN mass transport system.

      1. Johnny,

        I do agree with you completely. But almost always the government is a party. Usually the government have to tender the project so that the private party has to buy the lease.

        1. That’s true but in the situation you describe — where the private party secures a contract/franchise from the state — the participation of the government is as a CUSTOMER. In the same way that you or I would avail of a service or purchase a product commercially. If there is something wrong with the product/service, we can hold the seller and/or service provider accountable. If we have the private sector run the mass transit system, under a free market they will be compelled to perform, to provide the best service possible, or they will lose the franchise. And the business. And the money.

          Letting the market work is what will keep the business honest, not know-it-all government managers who likely travel to work in enclosed, chauffeured vehicles, escorted by motorcycle policemen.

        2. Maybe yes and no.

          I am thinking about a mass transport system that doesnt exist yet. To be build from scratch. So the government is probably the owner of the land (soil) and the governemnt must give permission (tend/lease). After that the “new” private owner can execute the new system how he/she thinks it can be run best. But what if the new private company increases the ticket prices (example =>) beyond the yearly rate of inflation? The governemnt wants to make sure that those people (consumers) who cant afford it anymore will start using their own cars or other means instead.

        3. Johnny,

          I am NOT talking about an ill-corrupt-lazy government (sorry) but about an efficient working government (if there is any).

          You can accuse me of being an ideologist. LOL

        4. Hong Kong has a very efficient, clean safe train system run by the gov’t. The buses are by private and must be the same or patrons complain. Both get fines for not being on time, safe

          I’ve also used public transport in Beijing, also works. Korea, also nice (btw not every Korean has a car, many are anti-car). Singapore, nice. Also in these coutries, if you need a car you rent a car. Washington DC, not that great.

        5. Hi PhilC16,

          The Dutch train system works efficiently but is – IMHO – not cheap. The train system works almost like the system in Singapore. They want to abolish the ticket system in favour of a Public Transport (PT) card (credit card size).

          Money is transfered from your bank account onto that card. Every time when you use one of the public transport means, a certain amount of money is deducted from your PT-card.

          Advantages: no need for cash money, one card for all PT systems, no seperate tickets for each journey.

        6. PhilC16,

          The company that runs the subways in Hong Kong, the MTR Corporation is a PRIVATE company, not government-owned. It is Hong Kong’s first privatised rail and metro company. In fact its creation marked the start of the Hong Kong government’s planned initiative to wind down its interests in various public utilities (c. 1999-2000).

        7. Just wanted to correct my post.

          The largest shareholder in MTR Corporation Limited is The Financial Secretary Incorporated, i.e. the Hong Kong government (77%). Technically, the ultimate owner is Beijing. However, MTR is operated just like any private enterprise. It is traded publicly on the Hang Seng and abides by the government and legal system in Hong Kong, not the mainland. Most significantly, MTR is consistently profitable — unlike other companies which have (some) state involvement and/or supervision — and requires NO government support or subsidies.

      2. Its amazing what someone can think they learn watching PBS in the USA (or USTVNOW.com).
        But not all that was in
        “The Rise and Fall of Pennsylvania Station” was true.
        In NYC, being able to get on a Subway for $2.50 and travel the length of NYC is a bargain. The NYC subway system is the most efficient rail system in the USA and probably the world(that is open to debate of course).Between the hours of 5 A.M. and 2A.M. their is a scheduled stop, at every station, every 22 minutes.Hong Kong’s run a mere 12 hrs. daily.
        The NYC system was built over decades by private companies that all went bankrupt. The City stepped in out of necessity, and over time connected the entire system, while managing to keep the trains running with a minimum of disruption in service.The City of New York picked up and connected the pieces of what the private companies could not maintain.
        NYC’s subway system is also longer and more complex than HK’s and pre-dates the Asian based London copy of ‘the Tube’ by 75 years & add to that the technology available to the builders at the time of construction was far different due to age alone, thus higher maintenance costs due to age in NYC means BIG $$$ just to maintain the system. The Hong Kong rail system had the advantages of copying what was done decades before…and the U.K. gov’t. that ran Hong Kong probably did not want to pay for it at the time.SO, public? private? depends on the gov’t. involved?
        However, could anyone doubt that if the Philippine gov’t. were to undertake the building of an underground railway system that they would not fuck it up?
        I know MTA Engineers that would disagree with Mr.Saint assertion/solution, though maybe not in the Philippines. NYC MTA all the way!

        1. I’ve never been outside the airport in Hong Kong so can’t comment on their subway or transport system. I can though comment on Seoul, Korea having lived in or near it for 7 years. The system is owned and operated by the city and/or the national government to my knowledge. The purpose of the subway and bus systems are to move people quickly and efficiently and that they do. Buses are one place to start. They all have specific routes and the fare for any stop on the route is the same, whether 1 stop or the end-of-the-line. You pay either the machine or the driver drop box when you get on the front and there is no need for any kind of conductor business. You get on and off ONLY at designated bus stops and when getting off you get off in the middle door of the bus. When everyone AT THE STOP is on and everyone getting off is off, the bus leaves. There is no such thing as a barker to entice people onto the waiting bus. If you are at the stop you can get on, if not, you wait for the next bus.

          If there is some extraordinary event happening that will increase traffic in a certain area the computer system will run more buses, alter stop light times and also send alternate driving routes to the GPS systems. Most people either have a car type GPS or they just put their cell phone in a bracket and use the GPS function of their phone.

          The subways have a hands free ticket system. You determine your stop, put the money in the machine and out comes the ticket. If you try to go too many stops the gate at the stop will not open for you to leave when you insert the ticket. Traffic in most systems in that country moves quite well most of the time although, because every Korean has at least 1 car, there are occasional traffic jams.

        2. Your comment on the hours of operation of the HK MTR is not correct and the hours are extended on holidays.

      3. You are complaining a subway ride cost $2.25 now in New York?? That is very low. Rates start at $3.00 here in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Some things should be run by government and not just “for profit”. I am reading how great Hong Kong is…hmm…try to go find a public pool to swim in or a public library accessible by foreigners? Good luck…I will take Canada’s slightly socialist country anyday.

        1. i think hongkong is really more about efficiency for work, not leisure.

          efficiency in getting people around . to work, moving goods.

          public pools and libraries …. don’t sound profitable.

  2. “Two percent of the population causing 99 percent of its grief on the road”, that just explains one thing, a failure in city planning. Manila is a perfect example of coming up with stuff as we go along. For one second can these MMDA and DPWH guys stop and think. Do these guys really have no one who knows how to build a city? Manila is now the most densely populated city on earth and the government isn’t doing anything about it.

    1. I definitely feel this way about Manila, it definitely seems like there are no zoning laws in place. It boggles my mind how road repairs and improvements take forever to complete, one would think they would be working on these projects 24/7 when then start, but based on my observation it seems like it’s just a regular 9 to 5 operation. I wonder if the project deadlines are too lax for these contractors for them to take their sweet time. Just a personal observation from someone ignorant about how these are done here.

  3. if the mayors in metro manila managed to remove the double parking in the side streets used now as an alternative route,the sidewalk vendors in some major thoroughfares,maybe traffic situation may improve.

      1. Agreed w/ both and persons haveing a bit of discipline, courtesy and respect for the law so that traffic flow works. One perpendicular driver can cause problems for miles.

        Shouldn’t gov’t employees take public transport?

      1. I actually wasn’t saying it flippantly.
        I do just that in london.
        Value now 7 million pesos per space ( i wish i had more, but i bought cheap a long time ago)
        Monthly rental 50,000 per space
        Tax free, no maintenance.
        Money for nothing
        A space sold last week for 28 million pesos so still a buy recommendation

        A number of people now do similar but via a co-operative where spaces can be bought and sold in all the major cities in uk.
        Like a ‘commodities exchange’
        But it is good for the small investor, not just the big property developers ( talking generally, not manila specific)
        I actually use a cooperative investment group for cuban cigars, and french champagne. Luxury items, which i know and love, and with limited supply ( a normal visitor cannot even take a box of 25 out of cuba – only 24 so that it has to be an opened box. A 5$ cigar in cuba sells for $20 min. retail in london) but increasing demand – especially russia and now of course china.
        And does not neccesitate major investment – and free holidays to havana as a perk!

      2. Thanks
        French innovation and style.

        The ultimate car park is in singapore ( or maybe the bmw factory)
        Automatically park your car in your condo and look at it all the time – why not if its a ferrari.
        Condos around 500 million pesos.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2195776/Singapore-s-supercar-owners-close-eye-expensive-rides–parking-living-rooms.html

        I used to live in frankfurt and at the bottom of the airport car park is a great club – ‘the dorian grey’ where group kraftwerk originated and techno music was born. It is still one of the best clubs in frankfurt.

        Architects shape our world – good or bad.
        Multi use is the key.
        I think one in ? LA turns into a restaurant and art gallery at night.

  4. First off: Who ever came up with the coding scheme is an imbecile of the highest order. Coding has been tried in major cities around the world and they found out within a month that this piggy does not fly. Only here we stuck with this moronic idea which led to more cars on the road, because the rich just bought another car. Without a doubt, there is just no political will in this corrupt administration to make the long necessary changes. Traffic could be improved easily.

    1. There are about 2-3000 buses too many. Get rid of them!

    2. No tricycles of any kind on public roads. They belong into subdivisions. Also no parking of them anywhere on public roads.

    3. On certain routes there are far too many jeepneys which are in fact driving coffins. They drive around half empty most of the time. Get rid of them.

    4. Synchronize all traffic lights in Metro Manila

    5. Fix dilapidated roads which slow down traffic to a crawl.

    6. Implement the stiffest possible fines for reckless buses and jeepneys which block the flow of traffic.

    7. Clear and fix all sidewalks so people don’t constantly walk on the street

    8. Absolutely forbid any religious or other festivity or procession, which calls for closing of streets. This is idiotic and cannot be accepted in a congested City like Manila.

    9. Where there is an LRT or MRT there should be no other public transport like buses or jeepneys available for the same route. Filipinos are the laziest people. For heaven sakes, is it too much to walk a few hundred meters? Double or triple the frequency of trains and make weekly, monthly and yearly passes available. Where else in the world do you have to buy a separate ticket for each trip? Such moronic things can only be found in the Philippines. The person responsible for this should be shot.

    10. Implement a Metro Manila wide truck ban between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. 8 hours in night time should be more than enough time to get goods delivered. During those hours the streets are pretty much empty.

    1. Some of these solutions don’t really help.

      1. Buses coming from Novaliches are impossible to catch later on because they’re so full. While getting rid of buses may seem viable, it just adds worry to the commuters. Perhaps a scheduled timeframe for buses to arrive and depart from their designated ends.
      2. The term “public road” is broad. Basically every street is a public road. In my barangay, there’s already a huge number of villages and subdivisions. Maybe restricting access to main highways and avenues would be more suitable.
      3. Jeeps are still a source of transportation to many. If you get rid of them, what would you suggest for an alternative?
      4. It’s not just a matter of synchronizing, but also using the right tech, but we have people in office who overprice cheap equipment.
      5. Again, we can’t cheap out on material and labor.
      6. I… I actually agree with this.
      7. Not just fixing the sidewalks, but we also need to consider a good width for the path.
      8. I think that violates a constitutional right somewhere.
      9. Again, eradicating alternative means of transportation hinders convenience. I sometimes opt to take a bus from Cubao rather than double my expenses with the MRT/AUV combo.
      10. This is where it gets complicated. We can’t just implement the truck ban anymore. It still causes heavy traffic coming at the NLEX, as well as their respective exits. The port has lots of cargo in need of shipping ASAP, and only so much can get through. It’s congestion all around. Other than trucks, you might want to suggest improving the railways to carry some cargo around Luzon a little easier.

  5. What about the London “Congestion Charge Zone”?

    (copied from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London#Roads)

    A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £10 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of central London.[223][224] Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a greatly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare.[225] London is notorious for its traffic congestion, with the M25 motorway the busiest stretch in the country. The average speed of a car in the rush hour is 10.6 mph (17.1 km/h).[226] London government initially expected the Congestion Charge Zone to increase daily peak period Underground and bus users by 20,000 people, reduce road traffic by 10 to 15 per cent, increase traffic speeds by 10 to 15 per cent, and reduce queues by 20 to 30 per cent.[227] Over the course of several years, the average number of cars entering the centre of London on a weekday was reduced from 195,000 to 125,000 cars – a 35-per-cent reduction of vehicles driven per day.

    1. I hear what you say. But in all reality it is not the private vehicles that cause all the congestion. It is buses, jeepneys, tricycles, et cetera. No one says that you can face them out within a short period of time. But there are just too many of them, many driving around almost empty. That aside, they are so dilapidated, that in Europe what you find in the junk yard is in better shape than what drives here on the street. They are just unsafe aside form the fact that they are the worst polluters. How would you implement something like a congestion charge in Manila?

      1. Jim,

        so far I never visited Manila except for NAIA (going from T1 to T3).
        Implementing such a system requires an advanced traffic control system. I really dont know how they do that in London but I can imagine that it has to do something with road (infra red) camera’s monitoring your license plate and then the computer will show whether that car has paid the congestion fee or not. If not then a bill will be send to the owner of that car (e.g. bus/jeepney etc).

        We have cameras hanging above the highways monitoring if you drive too fast. A few weeks later you will find the speeding ticket on your door step. And no police car ever stopped you. So technicaly it is possible. But every car here is legally registered and must be insured.

      2. Yes i agree ……. 2% of the population causing 99% of the traffic mess? This is simply not true. If you observe the traffic especially duting rush hours, ten or twenty private cars are “in a rush” to get to work/get home to be with their families, do you really think they will stop at every intersection if their cars are not blocked by a jeepney or bus or tricyle?
        Now take the case of the jeepney or bus or tricycle: do you really think that they will run their vehicles empty or one passenger short? Just to get you home early? Of course not! To hell with traffic, they will load and unload passengers whenever and wherever they like even if twenty private cars are waiting behind . So who is causing traffic? The twenty private cars who just want to go home in a hurry , if possible without stopping their cars? Or the lone jeepney/bus/ etc who wants to fill his vehicle to the roof if possible. Picking up and unloading passengers anywhere?
        Or some traffic enforcers who do not apprehend these errong drivers because of other cosiderations?

  6. Today, “Metro Manila”. Tommorrow will be Cebu City, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City and the rest of the larger cities of the archipelago. Just like metro Manila, these cities have the anatomy of a failed transport and infra sector. There seems to be an absence or the lack of it of an all encompassing development plan.

    1. Sancho,

      that will be the result as long as corrupt (city, provincial, national) governments will stay in power. They dont think about you – the citizen – they only think about their own wallets. But who does elect those governments … ? (the citizens, right?)

  7. These problems should be addressed to: Estrada, Moreno , Tolentino and Aquino. Ask them for solutions. They are paid to solve these problems….maybe they promised also to solve these problems…

    Ever think of over promising during elections?
    Nabisto na, na walang alam, ang mga tarantado…

  8. The congestion charge in london has generally been a success, much to everyone’s surprise.
    And if people travel in at night or weekends for entertainment then there is no charge.
    And if you live in the centre then you are exempt from any charges anytime.
    Uses number plate recognition as you say.
    Hefty fines if you don’t pay.
    It would never work in manila.
    The average traffic speed in london 2000 was about 8 miles an hour – the same as a horse and carriage a 100 years previously.
    Quicker to cycle.

  9. Back to Ms. Kate’s claim that having/owning/possessing a car is a privilege.

    I think in most richer countries, owning a car is a sign of freedom and a sign of individuality. The car sits there waiting for the owner to drive it, whenever the owner wants to drive it. The car owner is not limited to departure times of a bus, tram, train (or whatever means of public transport). In his car, he is alone and can play his own favorite music on the car stereo. If I want to drive from my house in Breda, Netherlands to – lets say – Paris, France, I will be there in just 4 hours by car. No other form of transportation can beat that.

    But driving and owning a car comes at a prize. First we have to get a driver’s license. That means taking driving lessons and paying for your driving exam. Then you have to actually purchase the driver’s license (+/- Euro 40,00; to be renewed every 10 years). After that, one has to buy a car, insure the car and get gaz. And then there are the quarterly road taxes. And mind you, gaz is also not cheap. So, driving a car is at all not cheap.
    Those who have a job, mostly get a commuting compensation (travel expenses reimbursed) from their employers.

    1. @Robert, well in the case of the Philippines, the price of that need for individuality and freedom is the congestion we see today. Maybe this reflects the same price we pay for the freedom we now enjoy as a “democratic” country. We take the freedom but not the responsibility that should come with it as a package — which is why the results are the same, whether in the form of the freedom to drive and the freedom to speak out and elect leaders. The outcome of Filipinos being free is chaos.

    2. i’m from singapore. never drove, don’t have a license, no intention to get one.
      coe to own a car costs $80,000SGD, excluding the car.
      driving the car is much cheaper than owning one.

      people generally think it’s poor planning all the same and roads being congested are a result of that and the measures to control the traffic are because the govt wants more tax. not because they want to solve the problem.

  10. “Then I also read that only two percent of Filipinos own and drive cars. Wow. Two percent of the population causing 99 percent of its grief on the road — that’s just wrong. We like to think of ourselves as a “democratic” people but there is nothing democratic about the majority suffering so that two percent of us could make porma in our million-peso cars. For that matter, what is so ma-porma about driving that obnoxious SUV when you spend most of your time crawling at two kilometers per hour? If you think about it, there is really something dumb about paying the extra hundred-odd thousand pesos on extra horsepower you’d hardly be using. Considering that the average road speed in Metro Manila will hardly ever take your shiny steel horse past a trot, that’s money that could hardly be considered well-spent.”

    Ms. Kate, while I agree with most of your post I think you misrepresent most motorists in Manila with this paragraph. Private vehicles are not the problems in Manila, the public utility vehicles are. I have lived in NYC for over 13 years and never felt the need to own a vehicle. I moved to Manila a couple of years back and the first thing I acquired was a car because:

    1. Public transportation is unsafe.(countless bus accident, snatching, pickpockets, robberies.)

    2. The “sidewalks” in Manila are barely useable for pedestrians. The ones that aren’t occupied by street vendors are in disrepair or totally littered with out of place posts, lamp posts, electric posts unkept trees.

    3. Public transportation networks are not interconnected nor are they efficient in getting from point A to Point B. There are barely any organized queues to get on the transports i.e. no one honors the line etc.

    My thinking is if public transportation were safe and efficient, more people would use it in lieu of driving. I know I would prefer to use public transportation, but safety and efficiency is non negotiable and sadly I doubt the current system in Manila will be improved anytime soon. So my only solution is to drive around and swallow the costs of being a responsible motorist, paying for unstable gas prices, parking fees, tolls, adequate insurance and other expenses involved with owning a vehicle. Most vehicle owners are probably on the same boat as I, compelled to function in a flawed system and try to use the roads as little as possible and that has an adverse economic price.

    1. @NYC2MNL, Yes I agree. I wasn’t implying that the bad traffic situation in Metro Manila is the fault of private motorists, or that they (or we, as I too drive) are bad people because we don’t “do our share” to ease road congestion by taking public transport. It’s the overall situation seen as a whole system that begs a holistic solution. As you said, the right natural motivators should be, shall we say, “baked into” the design of this solution. Trouble is, the traffic situation we are in is because of this lack of a “systems approach” to coming up with a system-wide design to any solution to this mess.

      So, yeah, we all behave the way we do because of the nature of the system we are in. Because, as private entities, we all act in self-interest when we each individually decide the best way to achieve our personal goals within that system. We expect the government’s involvement to be fundamentally different from that in that it alone is in principle motivated by the interest of the state — the collective — rather than being just another part of it that competes with the rest of us.

      You get what I mean? It’s kinda hard to explain, I realize. :-/

  11. I live and drive my self daily in this city the past 12 years. I read the article and the comments. As a foreigner and endless times wondered about this torturing traffic I have the below thoughts of how to reduce traffic.
    1. Filipinos is the major cause of this traffic. They have respect for no one else on the road. They will squeeze 3 lanes in to 5 but do they really know what the lanes are for? Ask for heaven’s sake just ask the drivers who has priority, who ever points his nose first (not the one coming from the right as the rest of the left driving world), ask how should they overpass, from wherever you can… The left lane is not for fast moving vehicles but for anyone who wants to drive even at turtle speed and worry only for what comes from their left and front. Stop lights and traffic signs when they exist are for décor purposes and will be violated if not a crocodile standing by.
    2. Buses-jeepneys-trikes-pedicabs-owner jeeps and other hand made wheeled creations are perfectly legal to be on the streets while in fact their maintenance, condition, driving and usage is making them moving coffins. They as well do not follow any rule not even the simple respect for pedestrians. Stopping anywhere to drop and pick up passengers and they will not care a bit if they close down a major road just in order for them to wait for the passengers to buy maning or ballot from the local vendor (who as well pays them). But the government is giving them licenses and even calls the jeepney as one for the country’s symbol instead of seeing it as the country’s disgrace. Here is also the lazy Filipino responsible. As I can see from your posts lots of you have been abroad, where in the world have you seen coming out of the bus, take a trike for 300m and then a pedicycle for another 50m. Commuters in the rest of the world do walk the distance from their office to the closest bus-train station.
    3. a few months ago the government was asking the bus lines to move their stations out of edsa and the ones heading north to go to northern manila and same for south, the companies refused and so it never happened. Also the government asked them to have their drivers on salary instead of commission the companies said this violates their constitutional rights and they won. What about YOUR constitutional rights to come and go to your home safe without the dangers or these running coffins? How many more dead until something changes?
    4. Traffic enforcers, these ridiculous androids who only hide behind trees to catch you for a violation in a tricky turn or so and they will not care if on the same time the traffic is blocked for whatever reason. I live in a low cost area of manila, I love the traffic enforcers here, they DO THEIR JOB, regulating the traffic, resulting in a smoother passage of all vehicles. If the traffic is light they might be standing in a shade but they do not extort from the drivers.
    5.Insufficient city planning and infrastructure, meaning building new areas where thousands of people will reside but not building on the same time an extra LRT/MRT line, nothing. Therefore the train has some incredible lines that the unfortunate stands with rain or shine in order to commute and in his mind is always “I wish I had a car so I would not suffer here, suffer in edsa but car has a/c and radio”
    Now you can flame and blame me, I know I touched your pride but if you really have pride…CHANGE SOMETHING!!!

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