Things You Need to Know about Number Coding in the Philippines

Photo by: Patrick Roque

There are things that we are bound to accept because it was already existing even before we had the ability to question its existence. For the ‘90s kids, the things we need to religiously accept includes watching "Bananas in Pajamas" and the existence of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP). Wait, what is the UVVRP again? Is it a type of public transportation? Oh, yes, good thing most of grew up watching "Bananas in Pajamas" as it helped us to think sharp and have a good memory. With that, here's everything you need to know about the UVVRP or simply called the “Number Coding."

Brief History of UVVRP or Number Coding

The UVVRP or the Number Coding is a traffic decongestion scheme that bans private (even brand-new cars) and public utility vehicles from plying the roads on weekdays (Monday to Friday). This scheme was first implemented in 1995 through a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Memorandum Regulation No. 95-001. The said memorandum was revised through the MMDA Memorandum Regulation No. 96-005 on 1996.

Objective of UVVRP or Number Coding

Number Coding aims to alleviate traffic congestion by restricting vehicles that can drive through public roads based on their license plates. Section 1 of the Memorandum Regulation No. 96-005 prohibits both private and public vehicles from plying the roads in Metro Manila based on the license plate's last digit. The current Number Coding Scheme runs from 7 AM to 8 PM, Monday to Friday, with license plates ending with a specific number being banned on certain days. Here's what to remember about license plate endings:

  • 1 and 2 are banned on Monday
  • 3 and 4 are banned on Tuesday
  • 5 and 6 are banned on Wednesday
  • 7 and 8 are banned on Thursday
  • 9 and 0 are banned on Friday

UVVRP or Number Coding enters revision phase

The Number Coding that we used to know entered a series of revision over the past two years. The reason for such revisions are diverse but the common denominator lies on implementing the full objective of the UVVRP to alleviate traffic congestion.

Window Hours

There's a five-hour period from 10 AM to 3 PM when motorists covered by the number coding scheme can drive through public roads without being apprehended. This means that you can still use and drive your car on public roads even if it's 'coding' provided you're on the road only from 10 AM to 3 PM, otherwise you'll be apprehended. However, you need to take note that not all roads have a window hour. These roads are usually Metro Manila's main thoroughfares and the rules are different from one city to another. Come to think of it, the window hour system could be confusing and it would be best if you just don't use your car if it falls under the number coding scheme.

UVVRP is also enforced only on weekdays because of the high traffic volume  during these days. During the weekends, the volume is lower, and so there's no need to implement the traffic reduction scheme.

Photo by: Patrick Roque

Roads with No Window Hours

It's an open secret that Metro Manila traffic is horrendous. This is the reason why the Philippine government decided to form the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT). The i-ACT is composed of the following: the MMDA, Department of Transportation (DOTr), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), and the Metro Manila Council--that's an all-star cast or an NBA super team like the Golden State Warriors. The worsening Metro Manila traffic made i-ACT implement an Expanded UVVRP or Expanded Number Coding. The same scheme applies here but vehicles are now prohibited from using public roads in Metro Manila from 7 AM to 8 PM, with no window hour on major roads such as EDSA, C5, Roxas Boulevard, Alabang-Zapote Road, and Mandaluyong City. Here's a more detailed list of roads with no window hour:

Circumferential roads (C1 to C6)  

  • C-1 C.M. Recto Avenue (Roxas Blvd to Legarda)
  • C-2 A.H. Lacson/Quirino Avenue (Roxas Blvd to R-10)
  • C-3 G. Araneta Avenue/Sgt. Rivera (N. Domingo to R-10)
  • C-4 EDSA (R-10 to Macapagal Blvd)
  • C-5 (Commonwealth Ave to South Super Highway)
  • C-6

Radial Roads (R1 to R10)  

  • R-1 Roxas Boulevard (CM Recto to MIA Road)
  • R-2 Taft Avenue (Lawton to Redemptorist)
  • R-3 South Superhighway (Quirino to Nichols Interchange)
  • R-4 Shaw Boulevard (R. Magsaysay Blvd to Pasig Blvd)
  • R-5 Ortigas Avenue (Santolan to Imelda Avenue)
  • R-6 Aurora Boulevard/R Magsaysay Boulevard (R. Magsaysay/Legarda to C-5 Katipunan)
  • R-7 Espana/Quezon Avenue/Commonwealth Avenue
  • R-8 A. Bonifacio Avenue (Blumentritt to EDSA Balintawak)
  • R-9 Rizal Avenue (Carriedo to Monumento)
  • R-10 Northern Coastal (Recto to C-4)

Major highways  

  • A. Mabini Street (Samson Road to C-3)
  • Alabang-Zapote Road (Alabang to Real Street/Quirino Avenue)
  • McArthur Highway (Monumento to Valenzuela/Meycauayan Boundary)
  • Marcos Highway (Katipunan Ave to Sumulong Highway)
  • East and West NLEX Service Road through Valenzuela

Aside from specific roads,  the cities of Las Piñas, Mandaluyong, Makati, and certain areas of Pasay also do not honor UVVRP window hours in their respective jurisdictions.

Photo by: Judgefloro

Exempted Vehicles from UVVRP or Number Coding

There are a number of vehicles that are automatically exempt from the number coding scheme. These are:  

  • Ambulance, fire trucks, police patrol cars, military vehicles;
  • Cargo trucks and other heavy vehicles (trucks exceeding 4,500 kg gross weight and above);
  • Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited tourism vehicles;
  • Vehicles commandeered by the government directed by a person in authority or his agent/or by a medical practitioner for military relief or emergency purposes;
  • Vehicles carrying person/s needing immediate medical attention;
  • Diplomatic vehicles with diplomatic plates;
  • MMDA-accredited tow trucks;
  • Government vehicles with government plates or appropriate LTO stickers;
  • Vehicles delivering perishable goods in commercial quantity

Penalty for Number Coding violations

Violations relating to the Number Coding scheme come attached with a measly fine of PHP300. It's plenty affordable, so make sure you settle it within seven days, or you'll face bigger fines when you renew your license. Number coding fines can be settled at any MetrobankSM Payment Center, or Bayad Center branch.

That said, some jurisdictions implement bigger fines, such as Muntinlupa City, where you will have to cough up PHP500 on the first offense, PHP750 on the second offense, and PHP1,000 on the third and succeeding offenses. For your sake, leave the car at home during your number coding days. Your life will be much easier that way.

Further notes on UVVRP or Number Coding

In case you don't know, there are several cities in Metro Manila that has started to implement its own number coding scheme. Pasig City has implemented an Odd-Even traffic scheme since December 12, 2016 in order to lessen the volume of vehicles entering the area. The said scheme is implemented in the following areas:  

  • San Guillermo Avenue/Buting Eastbound
  • Elisco Road/Nascor Westbound
  • Elisco Road/M. Concepcion St./R. Jabson St. Intersection
  • San Lorenzo, Greenwoods/Sandoval Avenue Northbound and Southbound
  • F. Legaspi Westbound

Pasig City's Odd-Even Scheme is implemented from 6 AM to 10 PM, Monday to Saturday. Vehicles with license plate numbers ending in 1,3,5,7, and 9 are prohibited to use the roads on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Vehicle license plate numbers ending in 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 may not use the roads on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

On the other hand, Valenzuela City has implemented a number coding scheme since September 3, 2018. The number coding scheme in the said city is enforced on the following roads:  

  • McArthur Highway
  • Maysan-Paso de Blas Road
  • Karuhatan-Gen.T de Leon
  • Gov. I Santiago (Malinta-Tatawid)
  • Mindanao Avenue (Brgy. Ugong)
  • East and West NLEX service road
  • T. Santiago Road
  • Sapang Bakaw (Lawang Bato)-Punturin-Bignay Road

Similar to the extended UVVRP, the number coding scheme in Valenzuela City runs from 7 AM to 8 PM with no window hours and will only be suspended on holidays. 

Overall, the current traffic situation in Metro Manila defeats the purpose of the number coding scheme. The reason for this is that volume of cars in the metro is just too huge since we don't have an efficient and reliable public transport system. As a result, most Filipinos tend to buy their own car, brand-new or otherwise. Moreover, some Filipinos own two cars in order to have a substitute when the other car is "coding." As such, the concept behind the number coding scheme is now obsolete. Will Metro Manila traffic ever be solved? We’ll have to wait and see.

It's worth noting that since of June 8, 2020 has number coding scheme suspended due to government efforts to curb COVID-19. The government is yet to announce when the scheme will be implemented again.

Updated on June 24, 2020 by Wilbert Tan

Also read:

5 Defensive Driving Tips All Road Users Should Use

5 Safety Tips for Driving Near and Around Trucks

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