Abalos, Nebrija agree number coding scheme shouldn't be brought back yet; here's why

Published July 15, 2021, 11:07 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officials led by Chairman Benhur Abalos have said that there is still no need to bring back the number coding scheme despite reports that vehicle volume on EDSA has been nearing pre-pandemic numbers.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos (left) and EDSA traffic czar Edison Bong Nebrija (Photos from Facebook)

Abalos, in a statement Thursday morning, July 15, reiterated that there are many factors to consider when ntroducing changes to EDSA traffic, and this includes the re-implement the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP).

Abalos noted that public transportation has yet to return to normal operations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with the 50 percent passenger capacity limit still in place for public utility vehicles (PUVs).

He said there were previous instances when there were not enough PUVs to ferry commuters, which resulted to long queues at terminals or loading bays.

“If we implement the number coding scheme now, can our public transport accommodate passengers given the minimum health protocols such as social distancing needed to be implemented?” asked the MMDA head honcho.

MMDA traffic czar Edison Bong Nebrija revealed Wednesday that while the agency has been mulling the return of number coding, there’s still no compelling data to support it.

“To be honest with you, we’re already talking about it. Like what I said, we have to base it on numbers so that we will not be making a mistake in implementing this. We don’t want to be ‘urong-sulong’ (back and forth with this),” Nebrija told a local cable news network. He shared a video of his interview on his Facebook.

“For example, the capacity of the bus public transport system that we have on EDSA is still 50 percent capacity. So if we will be removing 20 percent of the volume on EDSA [via number coding], we will just be putting this people to the crowded bus stations since the capacity hasn’t changed yet,” he said, echoing Abalos’s argument.

“We don’t want to inconvenience particularly our frontliners and health workers in implementing the number coding because they will be the ones who will be first affected by this. So we’re talking about number coding already but we haven’t seen the numbers that will force us to implement it again,” Nebrija said.

Nebrija said in the same interview that EDSA’s vehicle volume is now close to the level of December 2019, or the height of the last Christmas season before the pandemic struck.

However, Abalos cited the improved travel speed on EDSA despite the increased vehicular volume along the major thoroughfare.

“Before pandemic, vehicle volume on EDSA was averaging at 405,000 but now, it is about 399,000. However, southbound travel speed is faster now at 27 kilometers per hour, compared to 11 kilometers per hour before the pandemic,” he explained.

Abalos attributed the improved traffic flow on EDSA to the following: 1) implementation of the new busway located at the innermost lanes adjacent to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, 2) opening of u-turn slots along EDSA, 3) new road infrastructures, and 4) the “Mabuhay lanes”.