Caught (up) in traffic

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Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Some thoughts on transport and traffic while commuting between Cainta and Antipolo

Commuting from the Ortigas (Cainta) end of Imelda Ave. to its other end at Marcos Highway (near where Pasig, Marikina, Cainta and Antipolo meet), one should be able to observe and make a quick assessment of the positives and negatives of our local transport system. While there are more negatives at Cainta Junction and along Imelda Avenue, Marcos Highway definitely has improved particularly in terms of walkability. It is a commute that I have taken so many times since my childhood days and I can only now remember times when one could walk safely from one end to the other when there were far less vehicles than the volume that flows along Imelda Ave. these days.

Junction is still quite the mess despite some road widening at the intersection owing to various factors including the fact that the intersection simply cannot handle the volume of vehicles using it even after the elimination of some turning movements from Ortigas Ave. in favor of  U-turns particularly for traffic coming from the eastbound side of Ortigas. It seems the traffic signal settings can no longer handle peak period traffic and manual traffic management probably aggravates the situation especially when enforcers employ the buhos technique of trying to dissipate as much of the queued vehicles per approach or movement. The latter technique does not take into consideration that the longer a movement or group of movements are allowed to move, there are corresponding build-ups in traffic along all other approaches. It is a vicious cycle (pun intended) that is supposed to be addressed by an optimally times signal system. Saturated conditions, though, are inevitable due to the sheer volume of vehicles using the intersection given that Junction is a catchment for vehicles from Rizal Province that ultimately uses Ortigas Ave. to head into Metro Manila in the mornings. The reverse is true in the afternoon to evening periods.

Imelda Avenue, which was also known for a time as Francisco Felix Ave., is plagued congestion due to notoriously bad pavement conditions, so many median openings, and high vehicle trip generation rates from the many residential subdivisions or village along the road. The pavement conditions are due mainly to damage brought about by trucks and, during the wet season, frequent flooding along many sections of the avenue. Bad pavement conditions and flooded streets significantly slow down traffic as Imelda Ave only has two lanes along each direction and is divided by a narrow median island that’s just enough for a few plant boxes and lamp posts.

There are mostly middle class subdivisions including the large Vista Verde, Village East, Karangalan, and Pasig and Cainta Green Parks along the road. There is also a DMCI medium rise development has its main access road also connecting to Imelda Ave. These villages generate much vehicle traffic and each have their own median openings that practically function as intersections along the entire stretch of the avenue. These openings create a lot of conflict between through traffic and vehicles entering and exiting the villages, especially those taking left turns to or from their gates.

While there are commercial establishments along the avenue, most were small and traffic generation characteristics were not so significant as to cause severe congestion. The first major generator in the middle of the avenue was a branch of the membership-concept Makro supermarket cum depot. Makro generated significant traffic but did not cause much congestion along the stretch in front of the Village East gate. It was eventually acquired by commercial giant SM and the branch is now an SM Supercenter that seems to be generating much more traffic than Makro did at its peak. While traffic studies are usually the norm before such developments are constructed given the trips attracted by SM, the congestion experienced along Imelda Ave has been reported to be generally un-managed despite the need for more disciplined loading and unloading by public transport, pedestrian movements and vehicle entries and exits.

Jeepneys are the main public transport mode along Imelda Ave. although there are tricycles serving the various subdivisions that often not only cross the road but also travel along Imelda Ave. for short distances. I remember in the 1970’s and early 80’s that the tricycles used to be the primary mode of transport from Junction and the Cainta Public Market as Imelda was not yet connected to the still to be completed and unpaved Marcos Highway. There was even a Metro Manila Transit Corp. bus service (probably missionary route and with low frequency of service) along Imelda Ave. that turned around near Kasibulan Village, one of the first subdivisions in the area. Many jeepneys are noticeably the patok or popular type known for their loud stereos and reckless driving. Still, there are the smaller, older jeepneys whose route connects either ends of Imelda Avenue. Most patok jeepneys are from the many longer routes between Rizal towns and Cubao overlapping along Imelda Ave (e.g., Angono-Cubao, Antipolo-Cubao, Binangonan-Cubao, Taytay-Cubao, etc.).