person who lives and has lived in Metro Manila has definitely had their fair
share of experiences with just how severe the Metro Manila traffic can get,
especially when it is time to go home. I, for one, have had my fair share of
experiences with it. Last 2016, when I still lived in San Juan and my mother in
Cavite, we would go home to Cavite every Friday night, although sometimes,
Saturday mornings. Every Saturday morning, we would purposely leave the house
at about six in the morning, and we’d be able to arrive there at about an hour.
But should we decide to leave on Friday night, the traffic is so severe that it
would sometimes take us five hours just to get there, even with Waze active. I
was once even able to finish a poem wherein I used iambic pentameter. And had
it checked within that time. Sadly though, I didn’t get any plus grades for it.
Even now, that problem persists. It
continues to pester every person living in Metro Manila. Travelling from my new
house in Caloocan, if we leave early, in 10 minutes we would arrive at the
Philippine Institute of Quezon City (PIQC). But if we leave even just five
minutes later than we should, we would get to school in about 35 minutes.
Metro Manila traffic is so problematic that although several solutions have
been proposed and implemented, nothing seems to have changed, and overtime, it
only seems to have worsened; furthermore, it has gone to the point that Metro
Manila is partly known for its traffic problem.
The gravity of the traffic problem
in Metro Manila is nearly catastrophic, that it has been an issue for over 40
years. And in the time that has passed, it has only gotten worse. In a study
done by UBER in 2017, Metro Manila apparently ranks third among Asian cities in
terms of traffic, with an average of 66 minutes stuck in traffic. And it is
only preceded by Bangkok with an average of 72 minutes and Jakarta with 68
minutes. When the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman
Danilo Lim was asked about whether or not he believes the Metro Manila traffic
could be solved. He responded that since it is a man-made problem, it is
solvable. However, just what that specific solution is, is yet to be found out
Another merit of the Metro Manila
traffic is being labeled by Waze as having the ‘worst traffic on Earth’ thrice.
Once in 2015, Metro Manila scored a 0.4 out of 10 for traffic, wherein 10 is
the preferable result, and ranked ninth among the worst places to drive. In
2016, it ranked second, and as for 2017, Metro Manila took first place in being
the worst place to drive in out of 39 countries surveyed by Waze. Just knowing
that already speaks volumes about the severity of the traffic problem in Metro
In connection to what has been said,
there are of course a lot of interlinked factors that contribute to making this
problem worse. For instance, the demand for transport network vehicle services
has continuously increased, resulting to more cars being on the road. Notice
that in every year that passes, Metro Manila traffic climbed the ranks until it
reached the top in 2017. Consistent with this is the continuous progression of
Grab and UBER, the two largest TNVS operators in the Philippines, especially in
the Metro. And with each passing year since Grab and UBER began their operating
services, more and more drivers have applied to join their services. It once
even reached to the point that the Land Transportation Franchising and
Regulatory Board (LTFRB) felt they had to step in due to the over-inflation of
Grab and UBER drivers last year.
This of course brings us to our next
factor. Car companies have been feeding the demand for cars by putting a lot of
cars on promo. Some cars even have down payments that go as low as 4,000.00 Php
– a ridiculously low price. Some other promos even offer 0% interest with an
affordable down payment (for further details, go check AutoDeal). This would
have been fine if some of the people living Metro Manila did not already have
one or two cars of their own. But knowing the Filipino mindset, given the
chance to get more, they will.
Now with the advent of extremely
cheap deals for brand new cars, this then sparks an interest for those who did
not have any cars, to buy one, instead of using the public transport system.
And this is only in addition to the ones who already have cars yet still bought
more. Of course they cannot be blamed if they do not want to use the public
transportation services. Jeepneys are crowded, hot, and often uncomfortable.
Taxis are expensive, and buses are often cramped and also crowded. And as for
the MRT and LRT services, their trains are mostly broken and only a few are
working. Not to mention, the lines for it can reach distances you would not be
able to imagine during rush hours. And trains share the same state of affairs
as buses, only that they are a lot worse. During rush hours, they can be
In order to resolve this problem, a
lot of solution have been proposed, yet nothing seems to have changed. Even
under the Senate Bill No. 11, the Transportation Crisis Act, wherein President
Rodrigo Duterte already has the right to use “emergency powers” to resolve the
issue, yet it still doesn’t seem to be enough fix the problem. The bill gives
him the right to personally buy the necessary equipment needed, and transact
directly for projects to be done. It also grants him the authority to
restructure transportation departments such the Department of Transportation (DOTr),
the Land Transport Office (LTO), LTFRB, and MMDA.
In another effort to end the
problem, the DOTr took control of the Metro Manila traffic management system
last 2016. The Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and MMDA are already both working
with the DOTr in an effort to find a solution to the long-standing problem. The
LTO and LTFRB even took part in this effort, yet the product of their effort is
nowhere to be seen. Even though they imposed rules and projects in order to lessen
traffic, none of these seem to have been effective, proven by Metro Manila
ranking first out of 39 countries in terms driver dissatisfaction of traffic by
However, in my eyes, the true root
to this problem begins with the over density of the population in Metro Manila,
and for this to be solved, change needs to happen. For starters, one of the
main reason why the public transportation systems are mostly broken or having lines
that should not be as long as it is, is because too many people are using them.
Even with people opting to buy their own cars, the line for the MRT and LRT
trains are still ridiculously long. And each time the trains load passengers,
it is always chocked full of passengers that you can barely even move.
Some roads cannot even be expanded
mainly due to the informal settlers living around them. A lot of the streets in
Metro Manila has enough space for two cars but due to informal settlers, it
becomes exact for just one car. And so, if a politician or official would try
to move them elsewhere, the informal settlers sometimes create such a huge
issue out of it. They want everything to be provided for them if you wish them
And so if the problem is that the
population within the Metro is too dense, then the solution of course would be
to lessen the density. Which can be done only if those who came to live in Metro
Manila return to the provinces. However, since they came to Metro Manila with
the wrong idea that their lives would get better here, it is unlikely that they
would still return to their provinces.
Aside from lessening of population
density, people also need to get rid of unnecessary cars. In doing so, the cars
on the streets would be lessened. Less space on the sides of the road would
also be consumed if those who have cars exceeding their parking space limit
would get rid of their excess cars since they are usually parked on the side of
the road. Doing any of the two would certainly free up more space on the roads;
allowing the flow of cars to hopefully become smoother.
again however, Filipinos are highly unlikely to do any of these things. Thus,
the impossibility of ever resolving this problem is higher than the possibility
that this long-term problem of the Philippines will ever be solved.