MMDA upholds dry run of driver-only car ban

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 24) — There is still no full implementation date for the controversial driver-only car ban on EDSA during rush hours, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), which gathers mayors across the National Capital Region, unanimously chose to continue the dry run of the policy indefinitely. This means the MMDA will be recording cars with only one occupant during peak hours — but it will not apprehend motorists.

Instead, the records will be included in studies that will be presented to government, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista said in a press conference on Friday.

"The resolution is such that we will extend the dry run and test of the carpooling program (of) MMDA, subject to our presentation to the members of Congress and subject to the reports and findings (of) local governments along EDSA of the effects of carpooling on EDSA sa inner cities," said Bautista.

"Basta ang nakapagsunduan is to continue with the study, continue yung dry run. [What we agreed to do is continue with the study (and) dry run.]"

He added the MMC is still "waiting for the schedule with Malacanang" to discuss the issue.

The full implementation of the policy was put on hold after the Senate passed a resolution calling for its suspension. Lawmakers said there was no consultation before the policy was set in place.

Bautista also urged lawmakers who opposed the policy to sit down with local officials to discuss not only the ban, but other policies such as a provincial bus ban.

"The mayors are inviting our members of Congress [to] a presentation of the situation of Metro Manila," he said.

The MMDA believes the driver-only ban, also known as the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) policy, will take 40 percent of cars off the road and increase travel speed from 11.78 kilometers per hour (kph) to 31.29 kph. MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said the policy encourages carpooling. However, critics believe it will only clog up other roads and inconvenience motorists.

Local government officials and traffic authorities emphasized that the policy was just a band-aid solution as the country is waiting for infrastructure that could help ease traffic.

The Council has also agreed to increase fines for illegal parking and buses weaving in and out the yellow lane.

The mayors said the penalty for illegal parking should be ₱1,000 for attended vehicles and ₱2,000 for unattended vehicles. Public utility buses going astray of the yellow lane on EDSA should be fined ₱1,000, up from the current penalty of ₱500, the MMDA said.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.