3 Simple Solutions to Traffic Congestion in Metro Manila

Do you believe that there are no solutions to traffic congestion in Metro Manila? If you do, then I encourage you to read. The next President, if he or she has a political will, can surely make things happen.

Three weeks ago, I was outside Robinson’s Galleria waiting for a bus ride at EDSA.  It was 7 pm and I came from a meeting.

I needed to go to Cubao for a bus ride to Los Banos, Laguna. Before, provincial buses may get passengers in Ortigas. They were not causing traffic at all for there was a designated space for provincial buses.  It was one of those good projects of Bayani Fernando. The MMDA decided not to use it anymore.

Whatever study the MMDA did, I had no idea.  They must have consulted extra-terrestrial beings to which I have no connection.

My commute is now longer and I needed to pay more than twenty pesos more.

There are solutions to traffic congestion in Metro Manila. We do not have to wait for Superman.
EDSA does not look like this anymore. There are fewer buses and they stay in one lane. But the traffic is still unacceptable.

Because I seldom go to Metro Manila, twenty pesos more won’t make me starve. But those workers who receive the minimum wage, paying twenty pesos more every day is akin to stealing food from their children.

Buses came and went. I was not able to get into one even after 75 minutes. There was no more space between passengers at both doors.

It was a pitiful sight.

And two days ago, the President said that there is no way to solve the traffic congestion in Metro Manila. Two weeks before that, his aid, Senator Bong Go declared that only Superman can solve the traffic crisis in EDSA.1 What he is saying is that no one can solve the traffic situation in the country.

Many of their followers are blaming Ms. Grace Poe for not granting emergency powers to the President.  They don’t know that no single senator can grant a President emergency power.

They are wrong on the ” no-solution argument” and on emergency power.

The President does not need emergency power to solve the traffic congestions in Metro Manila. The victims of these crises, when asked, would give clues to solutions.

I know that he is surrounded by experts. Many of whom became experts when he was elected President. You know that already.

My family went to Singapore and Malaysia last year. My wife said that if only our politicians find time to learn from Singapore, we will be able to solve the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Because it looks like they found the solution to their “traffic” problems. 

I was thinking that she’ll say greater ideas if she gets to visit Taiwan.  Taiwan is only as big as Luzon. But the infrastructure is a lot better. You would think that everything was planned.

And that ours was based on how much money those in power could get.

I told my wife that our politicians often visit these countries. They have seen what we saw. And it is very likely that they have learned the “best practices” of these countries.

I am not the President of the Philippines, but I have three simple solutions to our traffic problems. None of which needs emergency powers.

What the President needs, as well as the politicians around him, is a sense of urgency.

Anyhoo.

I offer our leaders these three simple solutions.

Solutions to Traffic Congestion in Metro Manila

First, encourage big businesses to invest in the countrysides. Give these companies tax incentives they cannot refuse.  Provide them the support they need so they can bring their products to the market the fastest time possible.

Tell them to manufacture their products outside of the city or town proper. This will ensure that they’ll not create more traffic problems. This will stimulate economic activities between the town proper and the place of work.

This includes shopping malls like SM.  They are placed alongside major roads in Metro Manila. This is a great mistake. This can still be undone, but I don’t trust our local politicians will do anything about this.

But we must encourage our leaders to think differently. And we must encourage our citizens to choose leaders wisely. We can talk about this next time.

Second, increase the salaries of those who are going to work in the countrysides.  I daresay that those who work further from the urban areas should get ten percent more.

Let me state the obvious.

Millions of Filipinos are in Metro Manila because of the wrong legislation. Those who work in Metro Manila get more than those who work in the countrysides.

They based this on the situations 40 years ago. During that time, the prices of commodities were lower in the provinces.

The opposite is true today.

The prices of rice, fuel, and most products are higher. But the minimum wage is lower.

Encourage people to go back to the countrysides by providing them jobs (solution #1 ) and providing them higher income. The further they are from the center, the higher the pay they get.

This is a simple innovation that does not need emergency powers.  The President, as well as those experts who surround him, only needs political will.

Political will is not demonstrated by cursing people and matrices.

Political will is intention put into action.

I hope the President gets to read this for I have many more simple things to say that can help us Filipinos.

These two simple solutions will create great impacts.  That even without going to my third solution (mass transportation),  I know that in six years traffic in Metro Manila will improve.

Third, invest in mass transportation.

The government can serve best if it will invest in mass transportation. In Taiwan, you can ride either by bus or train going to the provinces. I was amused when I learn that in one municipality, people can for free for the first few kilometers.

When my family went to Thailand, we took the train from the airport to Bangkok. Initially, we wanted to get a Grab Car. But a local, a high school student, told us that there is a bus that will bring us to our destination. She brought us to the bus stop station.

In Thailand, you are likely to get to your destination when you ride a bus. There are bus routes near your place. Train stations are located near bus terminals.

In Hong Kong, you can transfer from one station to another. You do not have to worry about long queues because trains are many. With an Octopus Card, you can go to almost any place.

As I have said, our politicians have been to these places in Asia. They don’t need to be geniuses to get the idea that these are solutions to traffic congestions in Metro Manila.

Many of them must have visited European countries too.

Much has been said about our need for mass transportation. So, I won’t belabor this point.  But if our government so decides to make this happen, they don’t need to go to Europe to learn. Taiwan is nearer.

We won’t need to build more roads in Metro Manila. Bring the money to the countrysides. (And please, tell our legislators to go back to their provinces when they are not in session).

We only need to bring livelihood to the countrysides by providing incentives and support to investors. We only need to make working in the countrysides more attractive by increasing the take-home pay. 

Filipinos are very patient with their political leaders. There are ways to solve many of the problems we are facing today.

Kapag ayaw, may dahilan. Kapag gusto may paraan. I wonder what prevents them from doing what’s right for the Filipinos. 2 No, it is not the lack of money. Billions of pesos go to corruption every year. At least, that’s what we got from many legislative investigations

We need to tell our leaders what we need. If you can write to your favorite senator or congressman, please do so. Tell me we need real change in this country and that it can be done.

These three simple solutions can be done by any Filipino president.

Footnotes

  • 1
    What he is saying is that no one can solve the traffic situation in the country.
  • 2
    No, it is not the lack of money. Billions of pesos go to corruption every year. At least, that’s what we got from many legislative investigations

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