Motorists are venting on social media about the countdown timer removal from many stoplights in Metro Manila. This development has caused drivers to step over the yellow line/pedestrian lane/or worse, the yellow box of an intersection - all carry a hefty penalty - or occasionally perform hard braking.

After nine years of using countdown timers, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has begun the shift to a newer technology called adaptive responsive traffic signal system. It uses a sensor to determine when it will change between Green, Yellow, and Red. According to Francisco Pesino Jr., the chief engineer of the MMDA Traffic Engineering Center’s Traffic Signal Operations and Maintenance Group, if it detects no passing vehicles within three to five seconds, the system will change the lights.

MMDA to swap stoplight timers for traffic-sensing system image

According to the MMDA, about 50% to 60% of all traffic lights in the NCR (National Capital Region) are now included in the system. That means that around 50% to 40% of all traffic lights in the metropolis have already lost their countdown timers.

Why can’t we keep the countdown timers as we phase in the new system? As per the MMDA, it interferes with the sensors and disrupts the operation of the new system. Another reason the countdown timers can’t be fully removed is that they’re still part of the budget allocated by the COA (Commission on Audit). Total decommissioning of the timers will lead to an investigation and probably an audit.

The MMDA expects to fully implement the adaptive responsive traffic signal system within the next two to three years.