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From Odd-Even to UVVRP… and back

October 2010
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Picking up from where I left off in the last post, I reproduce another part of the paper I co-authored with a good friend who now happens to be the Director of the Center for Policy and Executive Development (CPED) of the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) of UP Diliman.

“The UVVRP or the “number coding” scheme, as it is commonly called, is a travel demand management measure that has evolved since its first implementation in 1995. The original intent was to use this measure to address congestion brought about in part by the many road and rail infrastructure projects being implemented throughout Metro Manila in the 1990’s. However, due to its perceived success in decreasing traffic along Metro Manila arterials, the scheme’s implementation was extended and even expanded to include public transport vehicles like buses, jeepneys and taxis.

The original programs involved only the main arterials of Metro Manila including its five circumferential and ten radial roads. These included the three expressways that connected the region to surrounding provinces in the north and south. All these are classified as national roads. The current program includes essentially all roads, with traffic enforcement units of cities and municipalities implementing the scheme for city and municipal roads. The MMDA enforces the scheme along most major roads.

The chronology of the development of UVVRP starts in 1995 when the MMDA Regulation No. 95-001 otherwise known as the “Odd-Even Scheme” was issued. The scheme bans private vehicles with less than three (3) occupants from plying restricted thoroughfares during AM and PM peak periods on particular days. Specifically, low occupancy private vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers are banned on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while those with license plates ending in even numbers are banned on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Peak period is defined to be between 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. The penalty was set at P 300 per offense. Exempted from this regulation are public transport vehicles, emergency vehicles, police and military vehicles, school buses, diplomatic vehicles and official media vehicles.

In 1996, the MMDA issued Regulation 96-004 otherwise known as the “Modified Odd-Even Scheme” in addition to the existing Odd-Even Scheme. The Modified Odd-Even scheme applied to public utility vehicles such as taxis, buses, public utility jeepneys, etc., which are banned from all streets of Metro Manila on particular days of the week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM based on the plate number ending of each vehicle, as follows: 1 and 2 on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays, 9 and 0 on Fridays. This regulation took effect February 19, 1996 and covered all roads in Metropolitan Manila.

Also, in 1996 the Metro Manila Council, MMDA, adopted and promulgated MMDA Regulation 96-005 entitled the “Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program” regulating the operation of certain motor vehicles on all national, city and municipal roads in Metropolitan Manila and repealed MMDA Regulation Nos. 95-001 and 96-004. The UVVRP, commonly referred to as “color-coding”, was adopted from the previous “Odd-Even” scheme which was first implemented in December 1, 1995 by the MMDA together with the Philippine National Police.  Under this scheme both public and private vehicles are banned for longer hours (i.e., between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM).  This regulation was first implemented last June 1, 1996 and is still in effect.

In early 2003, the MMDA temporarily suspended the UVVRP. The resulting mayhem, probably due to the abrupt reaction of car-users, forced the MMDA to restore the scheme. A variant of the scheme was later introduced with a window from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (i.e., the off-peak period within the day) when banned vehicles may travel. Not all cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, however, adopted the scheme due to its perceived detrimental effects on traffic in their respective areas. The prime central business districts of Makati and Mandaluyong prompted these cities to implement the UVVRP from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. This created problems as many roads run through different cities and municipalities, especially the circumferential and radial roads. Thus, it is possible for a motorist to use his vehicle in a city adopting the off-peak period window and get apprehended in another city that enforced the UVVRP during the daytime.”

[Source: Regidor, J.R.F. and Tiglao, N.C.C. (2007) “Alternative Solutions to Traffic Problems: Metro Manila in Retrospect,” Proceedings of the 11th World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR 2007), 24-28 June 2007, University of California Transportation Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, DVD.]

I am aware of certain stories circulating among those in the transportation and traffic circle(s) claiming an even earlier concept of the Odd-Even scheme. All stories seem to eventually lead to Oscar Orbos who had a brief stint as Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in the Cabinet of Cory Aquino in 1990. He is, of course, credited with the conceptualization and implementation of the “yellow lane” scheme, as lanes alloted for exclusive use of public utility vehicles have come to be known. An earlier version of the Odd-Even scheme has been attributed to him and, perhaps subject to verification, was claimed as among the reasons he was eventually relieved and transferred to another post. I say subject to verification because I do remember but faintly that there was a lot of talk about how to drastically lessen the number of vehicles along Metro Manila roads at the time. I was quite naive to such being a college junior at the time and was quite indifferent to policies that years later I would be evaluating and writing about. Moreover, it has been established that certain stories if allowed to circulate long enough gains the appearance of being true.

At this point, I am already tempted to provide a brief conclusion on the lessons and experience of vehicle restraint policies as implemented in Metro Manila. However, I would have to defer until after another post where the topic will be another vehicle restraint scheme, this time one that is even older than the UVVRP and its various incarnations. It is a scheme that has been subject to probably even more discussions and scrutiny given that it is a scheme other cities have implemented in various forms and had its share of successes and failures. I am talking about the “truck ban.”


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