MMDA’s solution to traffic is to put covers on scenes of accidents

If you’re well versed in what’s trending in social media, you would probably know that TomTom – a multinational traffic data provider – has recently ranked Metro Manila as the worst in the world in terms of traffic congestion, beating Lima in Peru, Bengaluru in India, and cities from 55 other countries.

In fact, during Coldplay’s concert at the Philippine Arena last weekend, the band’s vocalist Chris Martin expressed his dismay at the bad traffic conditions we have by thanking their fans who made it to the concert, with no less than President Bong Bong Marcos in attendance.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was quick to defend itself and questioned TomTom’s methodologies used to come up with its ranking system.

“We want to know the methodology employed. If there is an actual count and when did they conduct the study,” said MMDA acting chairman, Atty. Don Artes.

Anti Tolits Marites: MMDA wants coverings for accident scenes image

Artes cited Quezon Avenue as an example, which according to the study was the busiest street in Metro Manila last year. “Per our data, it is still EDSA as Metro Manila’s busiest road based on our regularly conducted actual count. With this alone, we can see that there is a difference between our data and TomTom's.” Artes added that Quezon Avenue ranks only 3rd in MMDA’s busiest road/street list.

Further, Artes acknowledged that traffic congestion in the metropolis is a decades-old problem and attributed it to various factors, such as vehicle volume, lane blockages, diggings and road repairs, ongoing construction of government flagship infrastructure projects, road configuration and conditions, and suspension of the No Contact Apprehension Policy (NCAP).

Illegal parking, illegal structures, and vehicles near school premises are also causes of lane blockages. Road accidents also hinder the flow of vehicular traffic. MMDA registered more than 70,000 in its partial road crash statistics report for the last year.

According to Artes, a roadway incident causing a 30-minute standstill leads to a traffic backlog spanning 2.5 kilometers and requires approximately 42 minutes to clear, and this was backed by a JICA-funded study on Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan.

Covers for usiseros

If there is a road accident, it is almost inevitable for a lot of motorists to slow down and become ­usiseros (onlookers) to see what’s going on or even take pictures or videos. The MMDA has a solution: deploy covers.

Artes said the MMDA is planning to deploy covers to keep onlookers from slowing down to take photos and videos of accidents. He said the covers are expected to be procured this year. The agency is also studying the proposed EDSA elevated walkways and has recommended to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) that trains that are yet to be constructed will all be subway or underground.

Also, part of the current interventions by the agency are the new and improved MMDA Communications and Command Center, JICA-funded improvements in intersections of Metro Manila, Intelligent Transport System (ITS), and regular clearing operations conducted by the Special Operations Group-Strike Force.