MMDA eyes congestion fee on EDSA to ease traffic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is considering a scheme for motorists to pay for the use of EDSA.

MMDA Acting Chairman Tim Orbos said Wednesday the proposed 'congestion fee' would be part of a broader scheme to ease EDSA traffic.

"Congestion pricing is all about volume reduction. The road is for everyone but it has to be used on certain times in certain areas depending on the demand," Orbos said.

He explained that pricing would depend on the type of vehicle and the time of use of EDSA.

Different from the tollway system, congestion pricing would involve gadgets mounted on gantries, which will scan each vehicle that passes.

The system will make note of the time and distance traveled by each vehicle and the motorist will be billed accordingly afterwards.

He said the MMDA asked for the help of the Singapore, who has implemented the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme.

The ERP has helped maintain a 45 to 65 kph average speed for vehicles expressways and 20 to 30 kph for arterial roads in its host country.

Orbos eyed an average speed of 40kph for vehicles accessing EDSA.

Read more: 'Modified odd-even' on EDSA eyed

“People will say, maliit lang naman na bansa (ang Singapore), maliit lang 'yung population niya. Yes, but despite that, na-control po nila yung kanilang problema ng trapiko because of discipline and because of technology and because of enforcement,” Orbos said.

[Translation: People will say that (Singapore) is just a small country, it has a small population. Yes, but despite that, they’ve controlled their traffic problem because of discipline, and because of technology and because of enforcement.]

The MMDA plans to map out free alternative routes and possibly open of gated communities for motorists who wish to avoid paying the fees.

Orbos said he has met with the homeowners of the Corinthian Gardens Subdivision in Quezon City and said that they were willing to help address the traffic problem.

If approved, the plan will be rolled out in 2018 at the earliest.

Would it work?

Engineer and transportation planner Rene Santiago said the proposed congestion pricing system was 'theoretically nice' but difficult to execute.

"It's a stupid idea because it will create more congestion. It means they haven't thought and understand traffic at all," Santiago explained.

Santiago also pointed out that EDSA had too many entry and exit points to implement an identification system that can properly bill vehicles.

Even Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade doubts the plan will work.

"'Yung problema sa trapiko ay bunga ho ng maraming bagay: kakulangan ng kalsada, kakulangan ng imprastruktura, sobrang sasakyan, kulang ng disiplina, kulang ng programa!" Tugade said.

[Translation: The traffic problem is due to many things: lack of roads and infrastructure, too many cars, lack of discipline, and lack of programs!]

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.