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The worst traffic of the year on Dec. 19?
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) issued a statement a couple of days ago in reaction to comments online and offline about how transport and traffic have gone from bad to worse in December and especially in the past week. The agency warned people about the worst traffic congestion of the year happening today, December 19, and media immediately branded it as traffic armageddon. Reactions on social media varied from the hostile, desperate, to resignation about their plight for their commute today.
The worsening congestion this time of year is actually part of a pattern, a cycle of ups and downs in terms of person, freight and vehicular traffic. In our case in the Philippines, we usually expect traffic to be bad during certain times of the year and in many cases along specific routes or roads. During the Undas period (All Saints and All Souls holidays), for example, we expect congestion along the expressways and other major roads connecting Metro Manila to the provinces to its north, east and south. During the first days of classes around June (for most schools), it is also expected that congestion will be severe along roads leading to and in the vicinity of schools, especially the big private schools that generate a lot of private vehicle traffic.
December is usually the worst month for traffic because of the increase in economic activity this time of year as people travel more like to earn a bit more income and for shopping. The end of the year also brings about a lot of culminating or concluding activities for offices and even schools so trip generation tends to increase for all types of trips. However, traffic has naturally increased every year and this refers to person, freight and, consequently, vehicle traffic. And so it is inevitable that transport and traffic becomes worse every year unless a major intervention is made in the form of a mass transit system along a specific corridor.
I am not sure if the MMDA or the DPWH keeps records of daily traffic so that we can have a quantitative basis for this. The LRTA and MRTC should have data on this based on ticket sales and the tollway operators would also have data on this based on their toll collections. Such information can provide a strong indication of which dates are the most likely for severe traffic congestion and perhaps allow for prediction and the provision of ample advice for commuters.
Will today be worse than the past few days and will it be the worst day of the year in terms of traffic? Or will Dec. 22, 23 or even 24 turn out to be worse than today’s traffic? Perhaps the statement from the MMDA is a way of psyching people about what could be the worst traffic of the year. This application of psychology may make people more aware of and therefore conscious about traveling today. This may actually lead to less traffic to the relief of many people. Or this may be a way for the MMDA to escape from blame considering they did make the statement ahead of today and this manner of “I told you so” basically excuses them from the public’s ire.
Looking at the data on which articles on this blog have been read lately, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of hits on the “About” feature of the blog. I don’t have my name there and there are only subtle hints as to who I am so I guess researchers like students are disappointed to find that they cannot quote a name of some person writing about transportation and traffic in the Philippines. I like to keep it that way so I remain somewhat anonymous while I continue to write about issues we have faced, are facing and will be facing for the foreseeable future. At times, I catch my material being used by our students at the university and others. I am flattered when I hear people talking to me about someone writing on a blog about transport problems and offering solutions and then learn that they were referring to my blog.
I know that one implication of this preference of mine is that my opinions will remain mine and unattributed except perhaps to the few who know who is really writing these articles. That’s okay with me and I am comfortable about my somewhat anonymous identity online. That way, I can write more freely though I am aware of my responsibilities as a writer. I try my best to be fair while being firm in my opinions in my writings. I’ve known many persons who have served and continue to serve in government and to be honest, everyone did good in one way or the other so credit should be given where and to whom its due. Problem is that we continue to suffer a lot from decisions, policies and actions made over a long period and not the past few years and sadly many of those people responsible for such are very much around in government or in the private sector. Even worse, nadadagdagan pa as we have seen in more recent times.
I know that there are many others who are more experienced and can write better than me. Unfortunately, many of them don’t use this medium for getting information and factual opinions out there. Many prefer to publish in technical journals or present in academic venues like conferences and symposia, and would likely only make an occasional comment on Facebook (if they’re on FB) about transport/traffic-related articles posted there. Then there are those who feel like its their responsibility to reply or comment on whatever is written by others that they don’t quite agree with. One such person even wrote a multiple-part article in reply to an opinion article that he didn’t agree with. Now that’s what I call overkill!
It is unfortunate and frustrating for me that if I were to look back at some of the stuff I’ve written, I could just copy and paste the entire article today and it won’t matter because we haven’t gone anywhere near a solution to certain problems that have been lingering for quite some time now. Yes, that’s how serious our problems are in this country! And that’s what makes me keep on writing in my own way and writing about transport and traffic, not about me.
Still know nothing about me
Enjoying the performances at the Sting concert the other night, I couldn’t help but remember the couple of pingbacks this blog recently received from some hecklers (or trolls?) who obviously didn’t understand what I wrote about the AGT currently being tested at the UP Diliman campus. Calling me a “so-called” expert in transport gets my attention but then I’m not the sort of person who’s insecure about my experiences, talents and skills so I’d rather dedicate a song to these fellows. Just a tip… try to read the other articles in the blog to better understand how and why I write about topics on transport and traffic before you make your conclusions about what’s been written.
The photos featured in this blog are free and will continue to be free since I do not have any intentions to gain profit from this hobby of mine. All the photos do not have watermarks that could obscure features of interest in the photos. Most if not all the photos are originals taken by me or my staff when we are out in the field or simply traveling from one place to another. And so I cannot assure the quality of many photos.
For those doing research on the internet and especially for school projects or papers, I would urge you to do the right thing and properly acknowledge where you got the photos. I am very aware of a lot of people taking images from the internet and passing them off as if it were their own. While there is little I can do to prevent that, I think it is my responsibility as a member of the academe to make this advisory on such matters of intellectual property and integrity.
Thank you for your attention and read on!
New Year’s Message
I got a New Year’s greeting from a friend who states in his text: “Please take care of yourselves this coming New Year. A recent joint study conducted by both the DOH and LTO indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol-related. This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes, who just drink coffee, carbonated drinks, juices, milk, water and stuff like that. Therefore, beware of those who do not drink alcohol. They cause three times more accidents!”
It is a message to humor us in this holiday season when many road crashes are indeed alcohol-related. It is an alarming trend and we see reports on TV of motorcycle riders losing their balance and cars plowing into sidewalks and medians hurting if not killing people in the process. The truth is that there are so much more crashes that could have been prevented if we drove safely (even without the influence of alcohol or drugs) rather than aggressively as we see on the roads everyday in Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines.
We look forward to further promoting road traffic safety in 2011 especially as we join other countries in ushering in a Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020). We hope to drastically curb the incidence of crashes for we are all vulnerable road users and there are lives at stake.
A Happy New Year to all and may we have a safe 2011 as we travel in this journey we call life.
Hello World! I still remember my first computer program, the first one I made myself, back when I was a college junior at UP Diliman. It is only fitting that I begin my new blog with these words and more!
I opened this blog to have a separate platform for writing about transport and traffic – topics which are quite obviously close to my heart. My other blog, the more personal one, will from now be devoted to memories…to reminiscing and documenting times past, reflecting on the present and maybe even speculating about the future. I guess it is only right to have that blog become exclusive to such topics and I do have an incredible amount of material for my realm.
Here, I will be writing about everything under the sun – but focusing on what’s on our roads, rails, seas and even the air. Read on!