After Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo’s cute little crisis-downplaying publicity stunt on taking the challenge to commute to work, the conclusion is: There is NO mass transport crisis plaguing Filipino commuters, since he was still eventually able to get from point A to B (except that it took him 4 hours from his home in Marikina City to his work location in Malacañang).
There is NO transport crisis despite that fact that the country loses P3.5 billion a day according to a JICA study, and LOSS is something that is in every way a part of Filipino normal existence.
There is NO crisis because Filipinos are creative and can always find innovative ways to get around their hellish situation. For one, why not leave the house an hour earlier to get to office on time? All we can say is that “Siguradong panalo na si Panelo sa susunod na election!”
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The Traffic-Solving Time Machine
So much for the circus act; what the nation needs is a time machine to solve the traffic crisis. If only we could travel back in time and have a secret agent eliminate the guy who convinced Filipinos to choose jeepneys over rail-based mass transit, then probably it would be like living in Tokyo now, instead of…
Or if we had a time machine to enable us to talk with someone in the future that had the knowledge to see how our ill-advised choices now would bring about catastrophic consequences decades later, then we will have the wisdom to take the right steps towards balanced urban development and optimized modes of transport.
Great ideas to “SOLVE” worsening traffic, BUT…
The following have been floated around to put a band aid on the karmic carmageddon crisis of our own doing, but they merely serve as stop gap measures to alleviate us of the symptoms rather than address the root cause of the hellish traffic conditions that add to the already tough daily grind the Metro populace has to endure.
- Car pooling
- Bus franchise removal
- Time-based bus schedules
- One-way EDSA
- 2-day color coding
- Removing provincial buses
- PUV modernization
- Skyways above EDSA
- Adding business class to LRT/MRT
- Strictly enforced yellow lane policy for PUVs
- Work from home
- Shifted work/school schedules
- Traffic discipline
- Opening up gated communities
- Ask China/Japan/Korea to manage us
ROOT CAUSE analysis
For those familiar with the 8D method of problem solving, one really needs to identify the root cause. Unless anyone violently disagrees, the root causes of the metro’s catastrophic traffic congestion are:
- Lack of vision and long-term strategic planning
- Over-development of Metro Manila, leading to overcapacity
- Misguided policy of following America’s lead rather than the Japanese mass-transit model
The BEST Solutions to the Hemorrhagic Transport Crisis:
For those who have lived long enough in first-world mega-centers, the best solutions (arguably) are quite obvious.
Expanded Rail Network
The mark of any non-dysfunctional modern metropolis is always a complex network of train lines that serve as the main workhorses of a seamless public mass transport system. Parallel alternative train routes should be in place as backup in case one line breaks down.
The idea is to have such an extensive network that it is possible to reach any point in Luzon or other major Islands simply by train. Rail systems bring the highest efficiency (person per unit area) vis-a-vis the limited infrastructure and space available.
If we adopt this as our priority national development strategy, then we need to reduce dependence on foreign technology and expertise by cultivating our own.
Put a plug on developments in Metro Manila: limit high-rise condos, gigantic malls and conglomerated office buildings. Increase the tax or cost penalty for operating/traveling in MM. Create policies that make it less attractive to set up business in an already overcrowded location; and public behavior will naturally shift towards moving out of the city.
Creating new urban centers affords the advantage of starting fresh: with modern sewage, gas pipes, underground electrical/communication/fiber lines, water lines, garbage disposal systems, etc.
Follow the decentralization lead of SM, whose malls are now ubiquitously everywhere across the archipelago. On top of these, we should bring in first-world minds in the process: managers, urban planners, developers and maintenance/improvement-centric operators.
How can you help?
The current Duterte administration is all out for these two solutions with the development of New Clark City and multiple rail projects in progress under the intensively funded Build Build Build initiative. What we can contribute as ordinary citizens is to do our part: If there is a way to not add one more soul on EDSA and the Metro’s clogged throughfares (esp. with infrastructure construction going everywhere), then make every effort to do so.
Choose to study in a provincial College/University instead of one in Metro Manila (or go for a Robotics and Automation Engineering program up in the mountains); use Clark International Airport instead of NAIA; go to a provincial SM mall instead of Megamall; attend a podcast-based organic church rather than a megachurch on the other side of the Metro; utilize Skype for business meetings. Let’s just evade EDSA at all costs.
And finally, as so many astute Filipinos have already done so because they believe they (and their fellow-Filipinos who are left behind) deserve better lives:
Zealous revolutionary advocate of bringing back common sense for the common good in a land of dysfunctional and delusional zombies.