I’m going to repeat my colleague Neal Cruz, because it’s too important not to.
In December 2010 I wrote a column that included some solutions to the traffic problem. Since then the problem has dramatically worsened. Let me quote a few (not all) of my suggestions (edited for space).
“Edsa is a nightmare, we all agree to that. And we all agree that the proliferation of buses with undisciplined drivers is much of the problem. The key solutions are simple: Take half the buses off Edsa. Look into them, they’re less than half-full. And fine a driver personally, on the spot, a day’s wages if he overtakes or drives recklessly. Keep them in the curb lane only at all times. Allow cars with three people, or more, to be excluded from the number-coding system. In fact, instead of the number-coding scheme, which is a major disruption to our lives, have a ‘congestion charge.’ Charge motorists P500 on their number-coded day if they come into town; that will encourage pooling (the passengers can share the cost) and will mean that only those cars that really need to be on the road are there.” None of that has been done.
“Then there are the intersections: Cars queue across them even when they’ve got nowhere to go. Cars crossing can’t. All it needs is a cop with a book of tickets to fine them on the spot. Or accept a bribe, I don’t care. Either way, it will cost the driver, and the practice will stop. Traffic will flow.” Not done, and still a major block to traffic flow.
“In Australia it’s a crime to leave your car unmoved after an accident. If it can be moved, it must be to clear the road for traffic flow. Everyone has a camera in their cell phone these days. A picture tells it all, as does an interview with the two drivers.” Not even discussed.
“Close the Amorsolo gate of Dasmariñas Village; the few cars that come from the boulevard and cut across the traffic from SLEx greatly slow the flow. They can use the main gate. And the buses must stop further down.” No action.
I repeated these ideas in April 2011, and added:
“Get jeepneys to stop by the curb, not in the middle of the road, or with their bottoms sticking out. It’s not a bottom I wish to see.” Not even an attempt. “All it needs is political will, not political won’t.”
In May 2012 I repeated some of these again, and added that parking on usable side streets should not be allowed.
Then in February, and again in March, last year, I repeated those suggestions. And added: “Hire hundreds, yes, hundreds, of traffic aides, and TRAIN them in the art of keeping traffic flowing with the power to enforce their directives. Given the ill-discipline and ignorance (how many drivers have actually passed a license exam?) of too many drivers, external control is essential until disciplined driving is second nature. Station 100, 200, whatever is needed, traffic aides and cops all the way along Edsa to ensure that buses stay ONLY in the curb lane and stop at designated bus stops. Take away the license of any bus driver outside the curb lane and ensure that intersections don’t get blocked, so cross traffic can flow, and drivers don’t cross lanes pushing in for selfish advantage. All it needs is disciplined driving. It can be done. At peak hours turn off the traffic lights, have INTELLIGENT (I have to stress that) cops maximizing intersection flow.” There are some traffic aides now, but nowhere near enough.
Also, I said: “Parking outside malls and schools should not be allowed, not even to drop off or pick up. That minute or so is enough to create substantial delays.” Of course you know it has not been done.
I also suggested a required retest of driving capability and awareness of road rules when renewing one’s license. The incompetence of ever so many drivers is glaringly apparent.
I finished the March column by saying: “What has to be recognized is that even the briefest stop disrupts traffic. There must be no stopping of any kind on the main thoroughfares. Again, let’s have signs: THINK OF OTHERS, BE COURTEOUS, GIVE WAY and so on. Let’s get traffic moving, safely.”
In October I summarized it all. Five years have passed and fine columns written, and NOT ONE OF THESE SUGGESTIONS HAS BEEN DONE, NOT A SINGLE ONE. All we have is a control center to monitor traffic. Useful, indeed, but I don’t want to know where traffic is, I want to know there is no traffic to monitor.
Filipinos patiently accept it all. It’s time to get angry, to demand action from a government that isn’t providing it. Will you join me?
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A eulogy to a friend: You may not have noticed him when you walked into a room, but his quiet presence was there, his influence on others imparted. He was a background kind of guy, close to only a few friends, and loyal to only a few friends. Aloof he might have seemed, but he certainly wasn’t; it was more a shyness, an insularity of self, a confidence of self of someone who knew where he was going, and was going there. His philanthropy was wide-ranging. He could fly a chopper but he didn’t on that dreadful Sunday. His care for it was meticulous.
The freedom of flight was in his bones, bones now interred. Archie King, our friend, died on Sunday when his helicopter crashed. Our heart goes out to Lingling, Ian and Atts, as well as to the family of Jun Taborlupa who died with him. The heavens rained on Sunday.
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