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Opinions on traffic – skeptical or objective?

September 2015
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There have been a lot of critics of the current administration for what is perceived as sins of omission in as far as major transport projects are concerned. There are those from the media including some columnists who have written scathing articles about the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and particularly agency officials who are perceived to be underachieving (to use a more diplomatic term). There are those from the general public who have written about their experiences (e.g., difficulties in commuting, traffic congestion, poor quality of public transport, etc.) and have been able to publish this in popular media. Then there are also netizens who seem to only find fault in everything about transport whether these are posts on solutions or simply observations or honest opinions.

A lot of people offer their take on solutions for transport and traffic problems in Metro Manila. You find these everywhere and especially on social media. Social media is a terrific platform for broadcasting your opinion to your friends and likely to the general public if your posts or tweets become popular and get shared by others. These opinions and assessments may be based on actual experiences (“may pinaghuhugutan” in today’s popular parlance). There are also all kinds of experts including some who have their own agenda or have vested interests. These include former officials of government who criticize the current regime and yet did little during their stints in government. Many overlook (or choose to do so) the importance to provide solutions or recommendations whenever one criticizes. Without such recommendations, the statements are basically rants or whining.

The academe’s role is to provide objective assessments of policies, programs, projects including their planning, design, implementation and even operations and maintenance. Granted that there have been many studies conducted at universities and other research institutions, many of these remain in the shelves of their libraries and offices. It is important for the academe to be active in engaging government agencies in seeking out solutions for transport and traffic problems. Local universities should engage the local governments in their areas for cooperative work. The assumption here is that they are in the best positions to help solve problems in their localities as they are most familiar with the causes of these problems. National agencies like the DOTC and DPWH should support this kind of cooperation at the local level by extending resources to make this work. This follows the model that they have in the US where federal and state government agencies support researches conducted by transport centers of excellence based in leading universities across the country.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Since this is brought up, I’m curious to ask: Who do government agencies ask and coordinate with when it comes to studying the effects of any planned and current implementations? Frankly, whenever I hear government representatives say that they are studying the possible effects of an implementation, I usually take it with a grain of salt. Our government is too short sighted and I’m sure you’ll agree with that. The current implementations that we have regarding traffic are just band-aid solutions and just addresses the symptoms of a bigger and deeper problem. An intervention from the academe is indeed very badly needed. But given that there is too much politics involved, I really can’t blame them if they can’t even if they wanted to. But if none takes proper actions, what would happen to us then?

    Earlier, I got on a bus in Commonwealth ave. at about 7:00AM. I got to Ortigas Ave. at about 10:00AM. That’s 3 hours. I then rode a jeep bound for Rosario, Pasig to get to my destination at MFI near Medical City. From POEA to the stoplight at Meralco Ave. It took me 30 minutes. After that, there was no traffic at all. and I arrived at my destination at 10:30AM.

    I commute almost everyday and I always try to observe what is happening. For example, my 3 hour commute today. I consider it the worst of all my experiences because it wasn’t even raining at that time but many different factors contributed to the hellish commute. To top it all off, the bus I rode on smelled of burnt rubber inside. I can’t complain because that would mean going down and getting on another jam-packed bus. How about I share the details of what I observed?

    From where I got on a bus to Tandang Sora, it took me 30 minutes. It is a given that huge amount of vehicles always swerve to the TS flyover but ever since HPG showed up, it became worse. Based on my experiences before HPG, it took me 20 minutes tops. Maybe it was because ever since HPG showed up, people are now leaving there homes much later, which is nearer to the rush hour than usual because traffic in EDSA was indeed alleviated. I know I did the same.

    After that, from TS to EDSA corner East Ave., it took me about 40 minutes as there was heavy traffic from Central Ave. to Elliptical Rd. Quezon Ave exit. This was suppose to only take 20 minutes.

    Then from EDSA corner East Ave to Santolan(Bonny Serrano Ave.), it took me 1 hour 30 minutes. This was suppose to take me 30-40 minutes ever since HPG, but 60 minutes+ from before HPG,

    I only found out when I got home that the heavy traffic was caused by a number of closures to the U-turn slots along EDSA. Specifically, those along North Ave which caused the heavy traffic in Quezon. Ave as they had no choice but to go there and the other one under EDSA Santolan Flyover which caused the vehicles to take a u-turn at P. Tuazon which is already congested as it is.

    From Santolan to Ortigas, it took me about 30 minutes. This was new to me as I seldom find myself travelling during this time as I would be very late, which I was now. But if the traffic was normal, it would’ve taken me 10-15 minutes. From what I observed, there was heavy traffic from Santolan to Ortigas because of those swerving to Ortigas flyover.

    From Ortigas to Meralco Ave, it took me 30 minutes. This was suppose to only take 10 minutes if the traffic was normal. It was probably due to the vehicles turning right at F. Ortigas Jr. Rd. blocking all the lanes. After that spot, there was practically no traffic in my direction. SO a total of 3.5 hours from the usual 1.5 hours.

    Lastly, on the opinions of people regarding the traffic, if you remove the bias, they are actually a good source of information. Most of us experience it first-hand everyday and would share what we experience if asked. As for myself, from time to time, I think of writing or visiting an MMDA office so that I can ask them about those problems that I experience. But I don’t because what would that do? I would just be ignored anyways. But I do want to help and I’m probably not alone. This is why I frequent this blog throwing various bits of opinions and info, hoping for a glimmer of light that our situation would improve. What is your take on it? Could we really change our situation? If yes, who is to start anyways? Who is to take the first step?

    Sorry for the long reply. This is probably a rant but I really just needed to vent my frustrations regarding the traffic.

    • d0ctrine says:

      Agencies usually hire consultants or firms for studies. DOTC bids out or engages local and foreign consultants for studies including FS for projects. Under this admin though, the DOTC seems to have a preference for foreign consultants over local. For both cases, however, the quality is a bit wanting. I say this based on project reports I have reviewed for DOTC via a WB-NEDA project I had worked on. As for MMDA, its actually a bit awkward as some their consultants are former MMDA officials who have resigned their posts but were retained as consultants (better pay maybe?). Then there are social scientists there who have no prior experience in transport or traffic providing their x centavos worth of advice to the agency.

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