Issue of December 3, 2017
     
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Out of city tourism terminal, Baguio carless days pushed
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

The Environment and Management Bureau-Cordillera is now pushing for carless days and the establishment of a common parking space outside the city as the best short and long-term solutions to the city’s traffic problems and borderline air quality.

The recommendations have been prompted by the latest actual count conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways placing the number of vehicles entering Baguio City at two million in a two-month period, and also based on data showing the degrading quality of air in the city.

The EMB identified emissions from motor vehicles as a major source of air pollutants in the city, whose officials are also in the thick of devising solutions for its worsening traffic situation as manifested by the need to suspend classes in all levels recently due to the huge number of tourists coming up with their vehicles during holidays and now almost regularly for the tourist city.

With University of the Philippines Baguio initiating last August the declaration of a carless day in its campus every Wednesday, the compound of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at Barangay Pacdal is now also off-limits to vehicles every Thursday, which means that those doing transactions with the DENR offices as well as its officials and employees now have to walk to enter the compound during Thursdays.

EMB-CAR OIC Director Reynaldo S. Digamo said his office recommends for the city government as well as other local government units and agencies in the Cordillera to implement a similar policy in their respective localities and jurisdictions.

The agency has initially offered its suggestion to stakeholders of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay airshed.

It has also asked the city council, through Councilor Elaine Sembrano who proposed a resolution declaring a twice a year carless days, to reconsider the proposed measure by making it at least once a month starting in the city’s major thoroughfares for the policy to be more effective.

Digamo said the “carless days” concept means reducing the number of vehicles in the streets, and therefore also reducing vehicular emissions. This, he explained, could not be attained by traffic rerouting, as it merely transfers the volume of vehicles in other areas.

He said it would also be best for the city if it could procure a property in the outskirts or outside the city premises and there establish a common terminal for vehicles of tourists or non-residents.

With a common terminal outside the city, all vehicles coming up especially on occasions should stay and park there, and from there they will have to use public transportation in entering the city.

He said the scheme will also in a way trigger economic activity as it would provide the city’s public sector additional income in bringing tourists to the city. 

The official acknowledged that unlike other cities which had wider areas for the purpose within its property, Baguio is having difficulties to find an area suitable for a common parking site in entry points. 

“If there is also a way to put bus and jeep terminals outside the city, we welcome that.

Hopefully our proposal will be carefully studied and given merit by the city council,” Digamo said.

Wilhelmina Lagunilla, EMB-CAR Ambient Monitoring and Technical Services Division chief, said the two million vehicles coming in the city monitored by the DPWH and also based from the actual data of EMB were counted from entry points of the city on a 24-hour basis this September and October. Actual counts were made along City Hall for those coming from Naguillian Road, in front of the Department of Health-CAR area for vehicles entering from Kennon Road, and along Marcos Highway.

“Imagine the emissions left by two million vehicles in a matter of two months in the city, and so we believe putting terminals would help in reducing air pollution and easing traffic,” Digamo said.


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