Another traffic coding experiment coming up?


James Deakin

So a leaked infographic from the MMDA proposing a radical new coding scheme has been making the rounds on social media and other messaging groups this last week, with some versions claiming the draconian measures will be implemented on May 16. MMDA denies this, of course — especially after the understandable public backlash — but do not deny the fact that they are studying the proposal, along with other versions of it, and considering it as a way of decreasing traffic.

The proposal, which prohibits private vehicle owners from driving their cars for two days a week during modified window hours, boldly declares that traffic volume will be reduced by 40 percent. Impressive.

Until you realize that they just banned 40 percent more cars from driving. Even more impressive is that with this approach, if they need to reduce traffic further, they can just ban more cars on more days until the desired number is reached. This can work all the way up until 100 percent of cars are off the road. Mind blowing, huh? Who would have guessed it would be that simple?

Now I do realize that the MMDA is a separate agency under the office of the president, but considering that this is a land transportation policy that drastically affects millions and millions of road users, I fired off a message to the DOTr comms team for confirmation. The official reply was: “I am with DOTr, not MMDA.

It would be best to ask MMDA regarding this matter.” I acknowledged the obvious but asked if they needed to coordinate with DOTr as the main agency considering the overlap, and they said “No, but we trust MMDA on the matter being the lead traffic management agency in NCR.” So I went back and asked the MMDA. They claim that the infographic did not come from them, but still have it as a pinned post on their Facebook page — albeit still under the guise of a proposal.

This went back and forth for a while. In fact, as of this writing, it is still looking every bit like tennis match; the final round of the Wimblamedon championship.

So considering that neither side want to commit, I will pose the question publicly. If the MMDA does not need to coordinate or get approval of policies from the DOTr, how will they be able to determine the actual effect on traffic? Where will they get data on the number of vehicles with plates ending in 1,2,3 and so on? Wouldn’t that be the LTO? Which is under the DOTr? Also, how will they determine if there will be enough PUVs to cater to commuters if coding will be implemented twice a week if the LTFRB doesn’t provide those figures and issue directives? Or how will they know if the MRT-3 is ready to accommodate the influx of commuters once again?

Everything is connected. This is precisely why we have centralized agencies. Because without proper coordination, all of these figures are merely guesses being passed off as data. Gut feel legitimized on official letterhead. Which brings me to my point: when will our authorities stop passing the buck and treating road users, motorists and the commuting public like lab rats in some cruel experiment being performed by mad scientists?

Did we not learn anything from the current coding disaster? Enough already. Start implementing the tried and tested solutions, like mass rapid transport systems, decentralisation, or a proper ride sharing program that will reduce the private car addiction. You know, like the one we had before Uber was killed off here. And if you can’t do that, then at least stop experimenting with us — especially with programs that have been proven to not be effective.

Fact: Coding as a long term solution does not work. Period. Because in an effort to remove one car off the road for one day a week, what it effectively does over time is add an extra car on the road for six days because most people will buy their way out of the problem. So as tempting as the short term gain may seem, the reality here is, it is like buying a bigger belt to solve your weight problem.