Para iwas traffic at init: All systems go for Metro Manila LGUs' adjusted work hours

Sixteen cities and one municipality in Metro Manila will start implementing on Thursday, May 2, the adjusted working hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a bid to help address the traffic congestion problem in the National Capital Region (NCR) and give respite to workers from the extreme heat.

The adjusted working hours were approved last April 12 during a meeting among Metro Manila Council (MMC) President and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Romando Artes, and the other Metro Manila mayors.

Zamora said there are more than 100,000 LGU employees who will be traveling to their work places an hour earlier than regular commuters and motorists during rush hour.

"Yung 112,000 na mga taong ito ay hindi sasabay sa rush hour araw araw. Isipin nyo kung gaano kadaming tao at sasakyan yan na iiwas na sumabay sa ibang mga sasakyan tuwing rush hour (These 112,000 individuals will not be part of the rush hour. Just think of how many people and vehicles will be removed from our streets during rush hour)," he explained.

Despite the new schedule, the mayor noted that each LGU still has the freedom to implement its own flexible time schedules.

"With only 22 percent of the total 645,000 permanent government employees in NCR, peak hours will be spread out. There is also a huge impact in public utility vehicles ridership with almost half a million government employees commuting. From our observation 4pm is off-peak hours in terms of ridership, the employees can easily go home while those in the private sector can expect decongested public transportation,” Artes said.

Citing what it described as a comprehensive examination on the prevailing traffic condition in Metro Manila, the MMC said the existing traffic congestion in Metro Manila has highlighted the need for innovative measures to address it.

The council explained that the 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. working hours would certainly ease congestion in Metro Manila roads since this means that government workers would have time to adjust their travel time.

Another benefit of the adjustment of working hours, according to the resolution, is that government workers would no longer be joining employees of private companies that usually implement the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. working hours during the morning and afternoon rush hours.


Heat wave

Aside from giving a breather to the traffic situation in the metropolis, the adjusted work schedule, as mandated by MMDA Resolution No. 24-08, Series of 2024, will also give respite to NCR workers from the scorching heat.

Artes said the MMDA will also be implementing the 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. work schedule for the agency, with the exception of its frontline personnel such as traffic enforcers and road emergency group.

He also relayed that other national government agencies located in Metro Manila were asked by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to submit suitable alternative work arrangement proposals in line with the 7 a.m.-4 p.m. schedule to lessen rush hour traffic.

“All the mayors agreed that each one of us will have our own observations and recommendations after a month of the implementation of the new work schedule and will present the results to Malacanang,” he said.

Further, Artes emphasized that there will be no adjustment in number coding hours in light of the adjusted work hours for the local government units.

“There is no need to change the number coding scheme. In fact, it will be more beneficial to government employees since they will not be affected, given that the policy will be in effect within the adjusted working hours,” he explained.

The MMDA’s number coding scheme is implemented from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, except weekends and holidays.

The Management Association of the Philippines had earlier urged the government to declare a state of calamity in Metro Manila due to the worsening traffic situation in the nation's capital region.

Data from the 2023 TomTom Traffic Index listed Metro Manila as having the worst traffic congestion among 387 metro areas in the world.

A JICA study meanwhile revealed that the traffic congestion in Metro Manila alone is costing the Philippine economy at least P3.5 billion per day or P1.27 trillion annually.