The search for solutions to ease — not even solve — the traffic problem along EDSA continues.
Any comment or suggestion related to that becomes big news in traditional and social media, and even a hot conversation topic in social gatherings.
The President’s announcement that it would only take five minutes travel time — along EDSA — from Cubao in Quezon City to Ayala Avenue in Makati by the end of the year — became such big news that it landed in the evening news of major television networks and in the front pages of daily newspapers.
The announcement was met with much skepticism, especially to those who take the same distance in an hour or more. Except if you drive to the airport to catch an early morning flight and the same distance only takes about 20 minutes. But not everyone drives at 2 a.m.
The Cubao-to-Ayala-in-5-minutes is not a joke. A day later, the director of the Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police, Brig. General Roberto Fajardo, said they have a “secret plan” to make that happen. He said the various government agencies involved in traffic enforcement along EDSA have been meeting to comply with the President’s promise that it would happen in December this year.
Fajardo said there have been many meetings among government agencies involved in traffic — the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Meanwhile, he said there are at least three plans to ease traffic there.
One is the strict enforcement of the bus lanes that will be supported by the deployment of at least 50 motorcycle-riding policemen.
Second is the plan to move the motorcycle lane along EDSA to give way to a fast lane.
And third, the removal of the provincial bus terminals along the same thoroughfare. The proposal will move the loading and unloading zones of provincial buses to terminals in Sta. Rosa, Laguna (for the south) and to a terminal in Valenzuela City (for the north). That would take away the provincial buses passing through EDSA.
But that policy to ban provincial buses is now facing strong opposition from many organizations. Recently, the Supreme Court asked the MMDA to answer the three petitions that challenged the ban. The petitioners said the MMDA had “exceeded its powers” because it does not have legislative or police powers.
Another plan to decongest EDSA will interest private motorists. Recently, the MMDA said it plans to reduce over 100,000 private vehicles there by restoring the controversial ban on vehicles carrying only one person, its driver.
The 100,000 vehicles will mean taking away away 30 percent of the 388,000 private and public vehicles on that thoroughfares.
The action will also encourage carpooling, MMDA said.
And so, the search for a solution to the EDSA traffic continues.
Clean transport terminals
Clean and comfortable stops on the road will be coming up soon, thanks to the recently-signed law requiring owners or operators of land transportation terminals, stations, stops, rest areas, and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) terminals to provide adequate facilities for the comfort of passengers.
The law is contained in Republic Act No. 11311.
The law also requires transport terminals to have free Internet service, clean sanitary facilities, adequate ventilation, and lactation stations.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), is mandated to ensure free internet is provided in the terminals.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will conduct random inspections to see that terminals maintain clean sanitary facilities for passengers including separate male and female restrooms and for persons with disabilities; safe and adequate water supply; flush system; toilet seat with cover; toilet paper, mirror, soap, hand dryers, and door lock; waste bin; and exclusive space for diaper-changing.
All of those facilities shall be available to the public for free; the law states that it is unlawful for the establishments to collect fees from the passengers for the use of the sanitary facilities. However, the passenger is required to show the paid bus ticket in order to use the facilities.
Establishments that do not complying with the standards for sanitary facilities face a fine of P5,000 for each day of violation.
By Pinky Concha Colmenares