Ready or not, the dry run of the proposed singles-only Edsa car ban, or the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) traffic scheme, will push through on August 15.
For the second time around, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is attempting the implementation of the HOV policy.
The new traffic scheme bans single-passenger vehicles or driver-only vehicles (both private and public) from taking all lanes of Edsa (except the intersections) from Balintawak, Quezon City, all the way to Magallanes, Makati City.
It’s really happening
According to the MMDA, a weeklong dry run has been set to begin this Wednesday, August 15, until August 22.
For the duration of the dry run, single passenger vehicles or driver-only vehicles on private and public transportation will be banned from driving on both south and northbound lanes of Edsa from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The aim of the policy is to reduce the volume of the cars occupying Edsa during rush hours. After the dry run, full implementation will begin on August 23 (Thursday).
A fine amounting to P1,000 is set for non-HOV vehicles caught driving along Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare.
How did they come up with the idea?
The MMDA conducted a vehicular volume count and found that 70% of the vehicles occupying the whole stretch of EDSA stretch contain just one person, the drivers.
To remedy this, the MMDA wants to increase carpooling. To do so, they proposed the HOV lanes under MMDA Regulation No. 17-004 Series of 2017 (Establishing the High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes in EDSA).
This regulation was endorsed and approved by the Metro Manila Council last August 7. It is now certified as the MMDA Regulation No. 18-005 Series of 2018 or known as “Establishing the Expanded High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes in EDSA”.
The scheme, per MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia, could reduce the volume of the vehicles traversing Edsa by 40 percent, lessening the 360,000 vehicles daily to 247,000.
The stand of the public
Senators Leila De Lima and Grace Poe have called the attention of the MMDA asking them to rethink the new Edsa traffic scheme.
“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,” said De Lima on Rappler
She also pointed to a real-life situation happening in Jakarta, Indonesia. When the Indonesian government implemented their “Three passengers per vehicle rule” in 2003, it has caused indigent citizens to drop out of school or leave their jobs to become “car-jockeys”.
They would offer to ride in a driver-only car for a fee, allowing the driver-only car to get by the three-passenger rule. For 15 years, it has made the whole scheme useless and, even worse, double the amount of traffic in Jakarta.
“This instance should remind our government to rethink its plan before fully implementing the HOV [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,” said De Lima.
Senator Grace Poe also expressed her views cautioning the MMDA from carrying out the said traffic scheme without conducting further consultation.
According to her, before the implementation of the said traffic scheme and before banning certain vehicles from driving through Edsa, the agency must see to it that the motorists will have their alternative routes free from obstruction, especially that of the Mabuhay Lanes.
Although a lot of motorists have criticized the MMDA’s HOV new policy calling it a “cheap and inefficient” solution to the Metro Manila traffic, specifically that of Edsa. For now, however, the agency refuses to be swayed and the average Filipino’s just going to have to comply.