MMDA bares realistic target for Cubao-Makati ride

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — Driving from Cubao to Makati in five minutes is "mathematically impossible," the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Wednesday.

MMDA Traffic Manager Bong Nebrija said President Rodrigo Duterte's marching order to cut the travel time from the busiest EDSA segment in Quezon City to the country's major financial hub came as a shock among their ranks, as they instantly knew it was a herculean task.

On Saturday, a seemingly confident Duterte casually announced that traffic conditions will drastically improve in Metro Manila by December. Even Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo did not reveal details about this claim, only saying that the President had something up his sleeves to make it happen.

"The pronouncement on time and the date that it should be accomplished is more of a pronouncement of hope than anything else. Once and for all, 'yung traffic problems natin sa Metro Manila ay bibigyang-pansin na, hindi lang ng local but national level na, Presidente na po ang nagsalita," Nebrija told CNN Philippines' The Source.

READ: 5-minute Cubao-Makati travel time 'physically impossible' – expert

Prior to Duterte's announcement, the Department of Transportation has convened a task force meant to unravel choke points on EDSA by deploying traffic enforcers from Kamuning all the way to Chino Roces Avenue. The group had been working on slashing travel times to 30 minutes point-to-point.

"To make it mathematically possible, we are looking at the end of Cubao and the beginning of Makati if we're talking about southbound," Nebrija said.

This would involve starting the clock from Main Avenue to Guadalupe, a stretch of 5.5 kilometers (km). This is easily doable at the normal speed of 60 kilometers per hour, but skips the often-congested Kamuning to Aurora Boulevard segment.

As a compromise, Nebrija said their team is now setting sights on a 15-minute drive from Kamuning to Chino Roces, which spans 12.8 km.

"Realistically, 15 minutes, we could do it. But then again, sabi ko nga we will try our best to achieve the numbers that were set by the President," he said. "Hitting it is great, but missing it by a couple of minutes or so would be great also for the commuters."

Nebrija said the delayed implementation of the provincial bus ban and driver-only car ban are also roadblocks to quicker trips.

The MMDA also stressed that EDSA is operating beyond capacity, as it now accommodates about 388,000 cars per day.

The MMDA is also waiting for the completion of the Skyway Stage 3 as well as the C5 extension to Las Piñas within the year, which are expected to steer roughly 100,000 vehicles away from EDSA.

Nebrija added that they are also eyeing to putting up fences along EDSA sidewalks to deter buses from picking up and dropping off passengers outside bus stops.