MMDA urged to 'rethink' driver-only car rule on EDSA

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday, August 11, called on the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to "rethink" its new traffic policy on EDSA banning driver-only vehicles from the major thoroughfare during rush hour.

"Our government should abandon its bad habit of experimenting on how to ease traffic congestion during rush hour.  It cannot always try its luck through a trial-and-error in resolving the perennial traffic problem." De Lima said in a statement on Saturday.

She said passengers-for-hire or "car jockeys" could make an earning from being a second or third person inside private vehicles that have only one passenger, to beat the rule.

"While car-pooling may be commendable, this plan prohibiting driver-only vehicles along EDSA could give rise to paid car jockeys who are more than willing to risk their own safety by getting into the cars of strangers just to earn money," De Lima said.

She cited the experience in Indonesia, where the government had a policy that required at least 3 passengers in a vehicle in 2003. The senator said this gave rise to passengers-for-hire which resulted to children leaving schools to be full-time car jockeys and even worsened traffic.

"This instance should remind our government to rethink its plan before fully implementing the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) [policy] because aside from possibly worsening the traffic in EDSA, they might put the safety of the Filipino people, especially those from the poor sectors of society, in great peril," De Lima said.

On Tuesday, August 7, the Metro Manila Council agreed to ban driver-only vehicles from EDSA from 7 am to 10 am, and from 6 pm to 9 pm on weekdays. A dry run will be implemented for a week starting August 15.

In 2017, there were 367,738 vehicles that ply EDSA daily, 60% to 70% of which are single-occupancy vehicles.

According to the MMDA, the new measure will reduce total vehicles in EDSA by 40% during rush hours. 

But many motorists have slammed the new policy, calling it a "cheap and inefficient" solution to Metro Manila traffic. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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