Not so fast on ‘driver-only’ ban on Edsa, MMDA told

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A scheme called “congestion pricing” is being studied as a way to ease traffic flow on the country’s busiest highway. —NINO JESUS ORBETA

The revived plan to ban “driver-only” private vehicles on Edsa during rush hour must be subjected to a trial run and wait until affected motorists are provided alternative, obstruction-free routes, Sen. Grace Poe said.

“Maybe (the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) could have a day where they could try it and see what would happen,” Poe told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the MMDA should also get additional input from the public.

According to the senator, similar schemes had been successfully implemented in other countries — but only because their urban centers offered alternative routes. But here in Metro Manila, she said, most roads are congested.

“Unless you can guarantee that illegally parked vehicles in the Mabuhay lanes and other areas would be removed and clear these in coordination with the local government, do not say that vehicles would be banned from Edsa,” said Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services.

MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia on Tuesday announced that the Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s policymaking arm composed of Metro Manila mayors, had approved a resolution that limits the use of Edsa during the rush hour to high-occupancy vehicles (HOV), or those carrying at least two persons including the driver.

The MMDA has yet to come up with a timetable or a set of guidelines for the new regulation, which it expects to keep out 70 percent of the 300,000 vehicles that traverse Edsa daily.

Meanwhile, a transportation expert warned that “piecemeal” measures like the ban—which the MMDA first proposed last year—could even worsen traffic congestion if hastily implemented.

In an interview, Primitivo Cal of the University of the Philippines Planning and Development Research Foundation said adopting HOV lanes may offer a “short-term solution” and encourage carpooling.

But Cal said “you cannot simply roll out HOV lanes and not provide mass transport alternatives to those who will be affected by the policy. You need first to beef up the MRT 3 line and implement bus-only lanes to improve mobility.”

In Jakarta, for example, having HOV lanes saw the rise of unauthorized “for-hire” vehicles, known to Filipinos as colorum, he said.

Also on Wednesday, Grab Country Head Brian Cu said the transport network company would seek a dialogue with authorities regarding the proposed measure.-By: Krixia Subingsubing, Leila B. Salaverria –



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