MMDA mulls over moving gov't service hours as traffic solution

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — After its controversial driver-only ban on Metro Manila's main thoroughfare may be suspended, authorities are thinking of another proposed traffic solution.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is considering a scheduling scheme which will move operating hours for government services and establishments, so as not to congest roads during rush hours.

"Hatiin na natin. Scheduling. Sabi ko nga baka puwede yung mga service ng government like NSO, LTO, DFA, baka puwedeng 6:00 [a.m.] to 2:00 [p.m.]," MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia told CNN Philippines' The Source. "Baka puwede yung mga banks naman, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Yung may mga schedule lahat, para hindi sabay-sabay."

[Translation: Let's half it. Scheduling. I think that maybe government services like NSO, LTO, (and) DFA could be open from 6:00 (a.m.) to 2:00 (p.m.). Maybe banks could operate from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.]

Garcia was pertaining to the National Statistics Office, Land Transportation Office, and Department of Foreign Affairs, which issue documents like birth certificates, driver's licenses, and passports.

A similar scheme was implemented in the holiday season, when MMDA restricted operating hours for malls along EDSA.

"But it's not our call," Garcia added.

The suggestion comes after the Senate passed a resolution calling for a stop to its ban on vehicles with only one passenger along EDSA during rush hours. The MMDA expects that it will take 40 percent of cars off the road and increase travel speed from 11.78 kph to 31.29 kph. However, critics of the scheme doubt this estimation and believe it will only clog up other roads.

Garcia said the scheduling scheme was also contextualized on an estimated additional 5 million people who enter Metro Manila during the daytime. Workers from Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal go in and out of the capital daily.

The Philippines is considered one of the countries with the worst traffic in the world. Metro Manila is estimated to have lost about ₱3.5 billion a day due to traffic last year, while neighboring provinces lost ₱2.3 billion daily.