MMDA says traffic schemes ease EDSA congestion

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Hundreds of cars were listed down by traffic enforcers Monday morning within the first hour of the dry run of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes implementation.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) โ€” Traffic congestion has somewhat eased on EDSA, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), hours after it implemented new traffic schemes, even as netizens and drivers said the problem was just transferred to other roads.

Bong Nebrija, MMDA Task Force Special Operations commander, said they have observed faster-moving traffic on EDSA based on security cameras Wednesday morning.

The MMDA implemented the ban on provincial buses on EDSA, and began the test run on prohibiting vehicles with only one passenger - the driver - as well on the avenue.

The Expanded High-Occupancy Vehicle Lane Traffic Scheme covers all lanes of EDSA, from North EDSA in Quezon City to Magallanes in Makati City. Driver-only vehicles are also barred from using these lanes from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., Monday to Friday. Both schemes take effect from 7 to 10 in the morning and 6 to 9 in the evening on weekdays.

The trial run for driver-only vehicles will last for a week, and full implementation happens on August 23.

Netizens, however, said traffic congestion just worsened on other roads as a result of driver-only cars taking other routes.

Some drivers pointed out there were more vehicles on Circumferential Road 5 or C5 (Carlos P. Garcia Ave.) and Katipunan Ave.

Dear @MMDA just want to let you know that itโ€™s a freakin parking lot in C5 this morning because of your genius HOV lane. #kudos

โ€” Chic Bulalacao (@Chicletsky) August 15, 2018

MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia argued, however, that the scheme did not intend to urge drivers to take alternate roads, rather it was meant to encourage carpooling.

"Hindi namin ineenganyo ang tao na magtake ng alternate road, what we are encouraging is carpooling," he told the media.

[Translation:We are not urging people to take alternate roads. What we are encouraging is carpooling.]

Garcia added that should there be instances of profiteering on these lanes by single-passenger vehicles, it is no longer their concern.

"Lahat ng may mga tao mag-iisip ng paraan na pagkakitaan... Ang sa amin magcarpool kayo kung gusto ninyo basta kung anong story bahala kayo," he said.

[Translation:Anyone would have their own strategy on how to profitโ€ฆ Our concern only is if you want to carpool then go ahead whatever the story may be.]

MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago earlier said they will make necessary recommendations should the new schemes cause traffic on alternate roads.

"For now we are just focusing on EDSA. If all motorists and singe-passenger vehicles, will transfer to C5 instead we will recommend it to the Metro Manila Council," Pialago told CNN Philippines New Day.

The Metro Manila Council, which is composed of all Metro Manila mayors, is the MMDA's policy-making body.

In the meantime, single-passenger vehicles are advised to take the so-called Mabuhay lanes instead of using EDSA, Pialago said.

Thousands tallied

Garcia said MMDA has counted around 3,000 violating vehicles in the first leg of the dry run from 7 to 10 a.m..

Initial reports from traffic enforcers said more than 300 violating vehicles were tallied within the first hour alone, while, the MMDA, said security cameras only recorded around 200 violators. A provincial bus driver was also given a ticket.

Bus drivers who violate the ban will pay P2,000, while violators of the single-passenger vehicle ban will have their license plates listed and forwarded to the MMDA.

Pialago said she hopes the driver-only vehicle ban will ease heavy traffic on EDSA as these cars occupy up to 70% of the lanes.

"We are expecting at least one-fourth of that (volume) will be reduced," she said.

Based on the 2017 EDSA annual average daily traffic data, 367,738 vehicles use the road on a daily basis, 67 percent of which are private motor vehicles.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.