As I was reviewing a paper concerning a study on vehicles utilizing residential streets as alternate routes to congested arterials, I couldn’t help but compare the circumstances described by the authors to the current situation at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. It is a classic case of motorists who, having free access to roads regardless of the nature of the land use, will choose to take this roads in order to bypass what they perceive to be congested roads. The objective is simple, take the route where travel time is significantly less, thereby getting to your destination faster. Such traffic is often termed as through traffic mainly since they do not have any other purpose along the street.
While the paper I was reviewing focused on a single street in a residential district somewhere in Tokyo, the problem in UP Diliman is much more complicated. The UP Diliman campus occupies 493 hectares of prime land in Quezon City, the largest component of Metropolitan Manila. The campus is located between two major thoroughfares – Commonwealth Avenue and C.P. Garcia Avenue (more popularly known by its former name, Katipunan Avenue as well as its designation in the basic circumferential and radial network for Metro Manila, C5). It used to be that campus roads were fair game to general traffic bypassing the traditional connection of Commonwealth and Katipunan at Tandang Sora (where the intersect). The latter being a narrow 2-lane, undivided street often congested because of truck traffic and the operations of tricycles serving the dense residential areas at either side of the road. Many vehicles, particularly private cars because trucks were not allowed to use campus roads, came through the campus via its Main Gate along University Avenue and its other gate along Ylanan Road (along Commonwealth) and exit via gates along Magsaysay Avenue (Asian Center), Schuster Street (Narra Residence Hall), or Velasquez Street (NIGS), and vice versa.
Due to the increasing volume of through traffic, the University agreed to grant right-of-way to what was to become C.P. Garcia Avenue (later downgraded by the MMDA to C.P. Garcia Street), which practically separated the academic areas from the residential areas located in the south portion of the property. Traffic has since shifted significantly from campus roads to C.P. Garcia but there has been a resurgence of through traffic in the past 3 years mainly due to C.P. Garcia being congested during peak periods. Most through traffic in the morning are vehicles bound for private schools along Katipunan Avenue and these are clearly indicated in the stickers on the windshields of the vehicles as well as the characteristic uniforms of students on-board. There are also significant traffic from motorists bound for the Pasig/Mandaluyong (e.g., Ortigas CBD) and Makati/Taguig (Bonifacio and Makati CBDs) via C5. Such traffic have significantly and detrimentally imposed themselves on the University, affecting the community and more specifically its academic constituents.