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[OPINION] Stop band-aid solutions, provide public transportation instead

Despite the local government unit (LGU) of Marikina City successfully removing street parking and obstructions following the order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, traffic in our part of the city has, sad to say, not changed. Extreme congestion can even be seen, since the space that was used for parking is being used as a pathway for vehicles to cut in line.

The same could be said for the other major roads in the city. Congestion can still be experienced even with the rapid compliance of the LGU. In Marikina's defense, the suburb city serves as a pathway from Rizal to Quezon City, a main business center, so a large volume of vehicles is expected to pass through, especially during rush hour.

In another part of Metro Manila, the removal of some monuments and subdivision gates in Quezon City has also caused quite a stir. With recent videos online of residents from subdivisions arguing with government enforcers, and Senate President Tito Sotto's firm support for removing obstructions, it seems that the government is adamant that the solution to the traffic problem really lies in removing obstructions.

The removal of street parking is only a band-aid solution. In truth, penalizing private car owners for the government's inadequacy to provide public transport shows a certain disconnect with the public. In previous events, the government had tried to enact a "no garage, no car" policy, which was bound to fail since the inspector who had to ensure that the buyer had a garage came from the car dealership – who would, of course, still let the purchase go through lest they lose profit.

Also, without providing a comfortable, safe, and efficient transportation system to the public, individuals would prefer buying cars. The removal of street parking only results in making parking spaces a venture, rather than actually serving as a more impactful solution. In the past, the government's plans to pin the traffic problem on public transportation was very counterproductive. Their move to make a one-lane area for buses caused a standstill. The same goes for the current breakdowns of our major rail systems. (READ: 'Walang pagbabago': Long lines ensue after MRT-3 breaks down)

At the heart of the congestion problem is public transportation, which should be the next prioritized step. The 250,000+ private cars that ply through EDSA every day take a lot of space compared to the 2,166 buses, and these buses can serve more people than a private car. (READ: How about you're banned from EDSA according to the car you drive?)

Congestion kills. We've seen it in recent reports of ambulances getting stuck in heavy traffic. Congestion also takes away personal time. No Filipino should have to wake up as early as 4 am to commute to an 8 am job and punch out at 5 pm only to get home by 9 pm. No Filipino should live and die in traffic.

Having an efficient transport system provides great benefits for both the economy and the environment. With an efficient transport system, Filipinos would get to work hassle-free and on time. It would also free ourselves from having to go with pricey transportation alternatives. 

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, in recent news, asked the public to suggest research-backed solutions to congestion. While we do have institutions for transportation research, such as the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies, it is time that the public respond as well, and ask the government to make efficient public transportation happen. – Rappler.com

Gillian Reyes is a registered librarian who works at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He often writes stories for children, and hopes to build a library for kids someday.