Issue of June 16, 2019

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Plans of the incoming mayor of Baguio to invite traffic engineers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for their inputs on how to address traffic congestion in this mountain resort is an issue that may be welcome to some but contentious to others especially those who have long suggested solutions to the problem but have not been implemented for various reasons.

Among the reasons for the non-implementation of several proposals to solve the worsening traffic situation in Baguio are opposition from commuters, jeepney drivers and operators, and even government officials from neighboring Benguet towns whose mass transport vehicles hold public terminals within the city’s territory.

With two more weeks before the new mayor of Baguio steps in, perhaps his incoming staff members should also research on the many traffic reduction proposals that have been put forward so that when a meeting with the Traffic Division of the City Engineer’s Office, Traffic and Transportation Management Committee, Baguio City Police Office, Department of Transportation, the incoming mayor, and the MMDA is called, all facts related to traffic management in the city shall have been laid down.

To have deeper appreciation of the city’s traffic situation, here are some facts, which concerned offices and experts, have to look into when they meet anytime soon.

The number of registered vehicles traversing city roads is now close to 60,000, of which close to 25,000 are utility vehicles.

Traffic situation in Baguio becomes unbearable during peak season, as only 2, 800 vehicles can be accommodated if all public and private parking spaces in the city will be used while illegal parking is one of the main causes of traffic congestion in this already overcrowded city.

We recognize that the MMDA has “experts” under its wing, some of them mayor-elect Benjamin Magalong knows personally.

He said the MMDA would help gather data to help understand and solve the city’s traffic woes. But why look far when there is the City Planning and Development Office, the regional offices of the LTO, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the Traffic Enforcement Unit, even the federation of the jeepney drivers and operators to help.

These groups, who are more familiar with the local situation compared with the MMDA, may have the answers but their recommendations never saw the light of day either because of lack of support or worse, lack of political will.

Some of the traffic reduction proposals are: odd-even scheme, non-entry of public utility vehicles from Benguet and La Union to the central business district, carpooling, transfer of bus terminals outside the central business district, off-street parking, use of buses as a form of mass transportation around the CBD, pedestrianization of some city roads, and promoting the use of bicycles as alternative to motor vehicles.

Of the many traffic reduction proposals, only the Number Coding Ordinance, moratorium on the granting of franchises, and various rerouting schemes have been implemented – the latter still on experimental stage even when it is already being put into operation for many years now.

These schemes have been effective in the beginning but with the passage of time and the volume of vehicles that are on Baguio’s streets, these have to be modified to conform to the present as well as the future.

This is where the incoming mayor said a short, medium, long-term, and holistic solution is needed.

In the past, a former city councilor proposed the creation of a local LTFRB but the proposal never took off.

Perhaps it is time to revisit these proposals, link it with the route rationalization plan presently being undertaken by the City Planning Office, educate motorists and pedestrians about their responsibilities, and build the infrastructure necessary to realize traffic-free and safe roads.

We do not discount the inputs that the MMDA may be able to give but before them, the solution just might be from people who already know the situation – their two cents worth only needs to be heeded this time.



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