Is There an End to this Traffic Nightmare We're In?
We live in a country where a normal commuter spends an average of around 90 minutes to 150 minutes commuting to and from the office.
It's also the place where Metro Manila drivers waste around 402 hours just waiting in traffic; throw away 25 days of unproductive time on the road each year, and lose around P2.6 billion in economic losses each day.
Yes, it's our "Carmageddon"--our nightmare wrapped around (and around) itself. And this nightmare will continue to haunt us as long as we don't address (and solve) these three main issues:
Too Many Vehicles on the Road
We have too many vehicles competing for limited roads--and this trend isn't going to stop soon.
Presently, we now have 2.35 million vehicles competing for limited road space. That is a vehicle density of around 3,700 per square kilometer.
It's quite ironic that there was an increase in LTO vehicle registrations despite the presence of excise taxes. In fact, there was an increase of almost 1.2 million from 2017 to 2018--from 10.5 million in 2017 to 11.6 million in 2018.
What's more, in the last five years, motorcycle sales have been going through the roof. According to LTO records, there were a total of 1.4M brand-new motorcycles registered in the country in 2015, 1.6M in 2016 and a 2M in 2017.
If this trend continues, then we've got a huge problem on our hands in the next few years.
Road Condition Problems
The government assures the public that after Build, Build, Build, the country's traffic problems will significantly go down.
And while we believe this to be true, we also can't help but notice that the delays in implementation can prove to be a barrier in relieving our current traffic nightmares.
According to the government, most of their projects would are set to meet the 2030 deadline. If that's the case, then we need to wait around ten years before we finally see major improvements on the road.
Ideally, things will be on the mark; in reality, however, these deadlines are often not met on target. For instance, even short-term project expansions that involve our railways systems have already been delayed by three to five years. Road projects and other infrastructure have become enmeshed in right-of-way issues and resistance from land owners. Many are stalled and are already gathering dust.
It's not a question of whether the project will be finished in the first place; the question right now is how long we will need to (further) wait along as the deadlines keep getting pushed farther and farther ahead of their target dates.
But are we disciplined enough to sustain it?
Because no matter how well the laws are implemented, and how many road infrastructures are built to lessen traffic congestion, they won't work if pedestrians will continue to ignore footbridges and pedestrian lanes.
They won't work if colorum vehicles and buses will continue their routes and pick up and drop passengers anywhere they see fit.
They won't work if the public continues to throw trash and clog water canals, thus flooding the streets.
They won't work if motorists continue to disregard traffic rules.
They won't work if local government units remain laxed in enforcing traffic laws -- or get too corrupted and pocket road infrastructure funds to the expense of the public.
And they won't work if traffic enforcers turn a blind eye and accept bribes from individuals who break laws.
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is to be more responsible with our actions.
Over the next five years, expect an additional 700,000 to 800,000 vehicles vying for space in our overly, "bursting-to-the-seams", saturated roads.
Expect traffic in the country to also worsen. In fact, that December traffic we often want to avoid will be the new traffic norm in the next few years.
Note that we said a few years. Hopefully, by ten years or more--when Build, Build, Build's Plan comes into full fruition--these problems will all become a thing of the past.
But what about today? Is there an end to the traffic nightmare we're in right now?
Sadly, no. We can still take charge, and feel a semblance of control over these circumstances. We can mildly lessen it--or even abate them every now and then. But it will still be there, like a sore thumb that refuses to heal by itself.
When all things have been said and done, the only way we can move forward is to hope for better things ahead.