Can you help solve traffic during your daily commute?
MANILA, Philippines – Think the traffic situation in Metro Manila couldn’t possibly get worse? Think again.
The Philippines could lose up to P6 billion a day if traffic doesn’t improve by 2030, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Filipinos, however, stand to lose a lot more due to bumper to bumper traffic – aside from their patience. Precious time and expensive fuel are wasted. Greenhouse gas emissions increase, and so do risks to health.
Using public transportation is difficult. Citizens are subjected to inefficient bus services: aggressive drivers often veer off their designated bus lanes and stop in the middle of highways to drop off or pick up passengers, blocking parts of the road meant for regular traffic. Because they are paid based on how many passengers they carry, they loiter to load the whole bus, blocking other cars.
The notoriously glitchy railway system is hardly a faster and more pleasant alternative. Train breakdowns lessen the already inadequate number of coaches – for which there are long queues snaking down packed train stations, especially during rush hour. (READ: MRT and the violence of our mass transport system)
The country currently ranks 12th among countries with the worst traffic in the world. No wonder, then, that 30% of Filipinos consider commuting to be the worst part of their day, according to a Ford survey which has appeared on three local news sites.
They are also beginning to ditch public transportation in favor of bringing their own cars to work or to school. Thanks to affordable car loans, they can purchase their own vehicles without much difficulty.
But while good for the economy, this only exacerbates the issue. 32% of vehicles making trips in Metro Manila are privately owned. Rising car sales means more vehicles on the road, contributing to the so-called carmageddon on EDSA.
The staggering number of cars being sold can also be attributed to ride-hailing’s surge in popularity in the Philippines.
Entrepreneurial Filipinos have taken advantage of the demand for more accessible, efficient, and safe transportation options. They buy new cars in bulk, hire drivers, send them out to clogged highways, then get passengers using apps.
But while this form of ride-sharing makes commuting more comfortable, it doesn’t help reduce traffic. This practice adds around 10,000 to 15,000 cars to those already on the road.
Ride-sharing: the true solution
This takes up a lot of space on the road, particularly if one is driving a large car.
A simple way to help decongest the traffic is to make arrangements with other people to travel in one vehicle.
In the Philippines, carpooling comes in many forms, but true carpooling means riding with existing car owners, not buying more cars to be able to share rides.
By using apps like Wunder, drivers with similar routes can offer their empty seats to passengers.
Car owners can even share seats with other car owners. They turn into passengers by leaving their own cars at home to fill in those seats instead.
In addition to reducing the number of cars on highways by putting more people in less cars, this lessens every commuter's carbon footprint. Fewer cars mean less air pollution, which, according to the World Health Organization, is the cause for 7 million deaths each year.
With this, the potential for respiratory illnesses lessens considerably. Sharing rides can also reduce stress experienced by commuters.
It also saves money. Resources, namely car and fuel, are maximized, thereby cutting costs for everyone involved.
In the end, no matter how loudly we complain to fellow passengers or honk at erring drivers, the sorry state of traffic is – for the time being, at least – here to stay.
While we’re waiting for more viable, long-term solutions from the government and the private sector, we should learn how to be creative enough to come up with answers of our own. We can all be part of the solution once we realize that it can start with us. – Rappler.com