We need to 'idiot proof' our roads – business group
MANILA, Philippines – The Management Association of the Philippines said immediate solutions are needed to address the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis, including the appointment of a traffic czar.
“While we're undertaking the medium and long-term solutions, immediate solutions should be taken to address the severe traffic congestion,” said Eduardo Yap, chair of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) transportation and infrastructure committee. (Read: Fix traffic or lose P6B daily by 2030 - JICA)
These solutions can be implemented in a matter of weeks and these measures should have been implemented as “early as yesterday," Yap added, as he presented holistic traffic solutions at the MAP general meeting held Wednesday, August 26.
“Because of the driving habits of so many on the streets, we're not optimizing our road space and needlessly creating obstructions. What we really need to do, to put it crudely, is to 'idiot proof' our roads,” Yap said.
Appoint a traffic chief
Yap said the most important measure is to appoint a traffic czar – a position that can be created through executive order – to deal solely with fixing road congestion.
He explained that this way, there will be “single-point responsibility” – people would know who is in charge and the office to forward their ideas, suggestion, and complaints so that there would be more efficient traffic solutions.
“This is crucial because right now traffic rules are being abused,” Yap said, adding that this is one of the biggest factors for traffic congestion.
He cited buses swerving on EDSA as a key example. (READ: Remember the Love Bus? Might be time to have it back)
MAP’s preferred candidate is for traffic chief is Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, who was tasked with resolving the port congestion in Manila caused by the city government's daytime truck ban.
Apply 'common sense' solutions
The other suggestion to decongest some of Metro Manila’s choked roads is to implement “common-sense, quick, and inexpensive” engineering solutions, the group said.
One proposed solution is to put up concrete barriers on all major avenues to prevent vehicles, especially buses, from swerving and blocking lanes. This will keep them from impeding traffic flow.
These concrete barriers, according to MAP, are currently being installed in only two sections of EDSA – in front of Guadalupe market on the northbound lane, and near Connecticut Street on the southbound lane.
“More of these barriers are drastically needed,” he emphasized.
Another suggestion is to eliminate intersections that have frequent bottlenecks, such as the one between Mckinley-Edsa-Ayala Avenue, and replacing them with graded separations.
A grade separation is a set of roads aligned in a way to let one set of cars flow under while another set flows in the opposite direction over, similar to an overpass.
Yap added that these grade separations can be quickly and cheaply created by adopting faster construction methods for road engineering projects such as prefabricated or pre-built short steel-trussed bridges.
"They can be completed off site and installed on site in just a few days, minimizing the additional traffic long term road works usually create," he said.
Create accessible, affordable transport systems
Building new roads is not always the best solution to deal with traffic, said Asian Development Bank (ADB) transport specialist Valerie Lisack.
Lisack was on hand to present the ADB Sustainable Transport Initiative, a strategy ADB will use for creating accessible and affordable transport systems around Asia-Pacific through 2020.
“No city has ever solved traffic congestion by building more roads,” Lisack said. “Building more roads to fix traffic is like buying larger pants to deal with obesity."
In Metro Manila’s case, however, some roads are urgently needed to address major chokepoints, she said, noting that more connections need to be made across the Pasig River. Access points into Bonifacio Global City should to be increased.
The ideal long term solution to congestion, she shared, is to develop innovative mass public transportation solutions.
One way for the Philippines to raise funds for these projects is to institute a parking levy or tax throughout Metro Manila on all non-residential off street parking spaces reserved for a car regardless of whether they are being used or not.
This can include vacant lots reserved for parking, commercial, and office parking spaces; and parking spaces in parking stations.
ADB calculates that a parking levy of P20 ($0.42) per day per parking space would generate over P15 billion ($321.5 million) per year. The government can use this to fund the development of various mass transit projects.
Another innovative idea relevant to the capital region is to implement bicycle sharing or a shared-use rental service with multiple collections and return locations in the city similar to Paris’ Velib system. This would not only reduce the number of cars on the road but also air pollution.
Lisack said that the scheme is not feasible in all parts of the metropolis at the moment due to inadequate road space, but there are pockets where it can be tried out such as Bonifacio Global City. – Rappler.com
$1 = P46.66
Grade separation viaduct image via Shutterstock