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Worst Traffic in the World? MMDA Chief Abalos Has Solutions in Mind

Gridlocks are a way of life in the Philippine capital.
by Clara Rosales
2 hours ago
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

Traffic in Metro Manila is the worst in the world. Or if it isn't, it's always been up there, even during a pandemic. Studies affirm it: In the 2020 TomTom Traffic Index, Manila traffic ranked fourth worst in the world. For the Numbeo survey, it ranked ninth worst

This month, Benhur Abalos took over as chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. He's still new to the job, but he's made moves to identify the causes of the Metro's traffic problem and ways to solve it.

Here's how the MMDA plans to address Metro Manila's traffic problem:

Traffic enforcers out on the streets

Ideally, traffic enforcers step in to ensure the smooth and steady flow of traffic but it can't materialize when a fourth of MMDA's traffic enforcers are senior citizens forced to stay at home due to quarantine restrictions.

"Mahirap magtanggal. Pandemic, kawawa ang kanilang pamilya. On the other hand, mahirap naman masakripisyo ang serbisyo. Kailangan talagang merong traffic enforcers," Abalos told GMA's Unang Balita.

Continue reading below ↓

His proposal? Senior enforcers to endorse healthier relatives to take on the job to prevent economic displacement.

"Pero dadaan sa mga tests ang mga taong ito. Ito'y very rigid test," he stressed.

An elevated bus ramp

The EDSA Busway system designated the left-most lane of the busy thoroughfare for buses only, in an effort to transport more passengers during the pandemic. U-turn slots along EDSA were closed throughout 2020 to make way for the smooth passage of buses, but this became a problem for motorists on the other lanes who utilize u-turns to cut travel times.


Everything You Need to Know About the New EDSA Busways

Two More EDSA U-Turn Slots Face Closure

The elevated bus ramp for EDSA aims to eliminate that problem by enabling buses to go above the u-turn slots via a ramp, so cars and other vehicles can freely make u-turns without disrupting traffic on the inner-most lane.

Continue reading below ↓


MMDA Eyes Elevated Bus Ramps Over EDSA U-Turn Slots

According to Abalos, funds have been secured for the proposed elevated bus ramp along EDSA, althought there's no final amount yet.

A possible motorbike lane for EDSA

Apart from cars, trucks, and buses, motorbikes also take up space on EDSA. "Maski ilagay mo sila sa gitna, sa kanan, o sa kaliwa, talagang may masasabi ang tao," he said.

Abalos said he consulted his team and asked them to study if motorbikes can take up the right-most lane of EDSA. This is still under observation, but Abalos reiterated the importance of safety in their decision-making process.

When asked about an EDSA bike lane, he said "Para din sa akin, medyo unsafe sa EDSA dahil ang bibilis ng sasakyan, may motorsiklo," he said.

An alternative Abalos presented is a contiguous bike lane for cyclists, a solution best achieved with the cooperation of local government units and traffic authorities.

Continue reading below ↓

Understanding why accidents happen

When asked about road accidents caused by concrete barriers, Abalos said he coordinated with traffic engineers to assess the damage and figure out why such incidents happen in the first place.

Well-lit tunnels

Abalos said he recently found out that lights illuminating a tunnel in Makati were stolen and are yet to be replaced with the right lights to ensure the safety of motorists. For now, it's being temporarily lit.

Moving forward, Abalos said he wants tunnels to be well-lit at all times to prevent accidents.

"I make sure na parating may ilaw ito," he said.

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