The local government unit managing the country's summer capital is looking for ways to mitigate heavy traffic. As we know, Baguio City -a very popular summer destination- does experience heavy traffic when tourists arrive in the city for long weekends or long holidays.
They've already started with the revival of the HOHO (Hop On, Hop Off) buses to decongest Baguio roads and encourage tourists to use public transport. This initiative allows visitors to just park their cars at the Baguio Convention Center for a fee, but they can tour the city using the government's buses for free.
We don't see this as being a popular program, and the local government is well aware of that. But there's another proposal on the board: Baguio City councilor Leandro Yangot Jr. is looking at a congestion fee for tourists bringing private cars to the city.
Yangot says they are looking at a PHP 50 congestion fee for non-residents, while giving exemptions to those living in other Benguet locales such as La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay. Furthermore, all residents from the Cordillera Administrative Region may also be exempt from the congestion fee.
We confirmed this with a senior official in the city and there is indeed a proposal for the PHP 50 per car, but it is still just a proposal; not an ordinance.
However, considering that PHP 50 is only equivalent to a normal weekend fixed rate parking fee in Metro Manila malls, the congestion charge may not prevent tourists from bringing their own vehicles. Instead, it will likely be a revenue generator.
According to a study, an average of 50,000 to 60,000 tourists arrive weekly in the summer capital, with around 40,000 arriving from Friday to Saturday. If half bring their own cars, charging them PHP 50 each would definitely generate a lot of funds for programs and activities in the city.
Perhaps Baguio City (or even other PH cities and tourist spots) should look at how London does their congestion fee to mitigate traffic, charging motorists GBP 15 (around PHP 1,000). Paying that much in a country like ours will definitely make tourists think twice, but tourism in the area could also suffer as a result of that. Not to mention, there's also the question of will the current state of Baguio's public transport system be enough to cater to tourists. But that's a different story altogether.
So what do you think? Will the congestion charge initiative for Baguio City make sense in reducing traffic in the area or will it just be about revenue? Let us know in the comments.