Welcome to Inquirer Mobility

By Mariejo S. Ramos 

Vehicular flow on Edsa, Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare, has improved a great deal thanks to the Duterte administration’s traffic-control measures, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

“Before, traveling on Edsa was like waging a war,’’ Tugade said in a forum on Monday, citing the “long-standing issues’’ that cause daily headaches for motorists and commuters, starting with the huge number of vehicles.

using the highway, poor traffic management and lack of discipline among drivers.

But as he noted how travel time had been sharply reduced of late, Tugade’s report seemed to be silent about one major factor behind such an improvement: the current community quarantine.

With Metro Manila undergoing various levels of lockdown since the start of the pandemic, and with local curfews in force, Edsa and other major roads in the capital have seen a reduction in traffic volume due to restrictions on public transport, the widespread implementation of work-from-home arrangements and distance learning, and sweeping curbs on many commercial activities.

Busway project

According to Tugade, travel time on Edsa from Caloocan City (Monumento) to Pasay City has been reduced from nearly three hours to just around 45 minutes.

He attributed this to the implementation of the Edsa Busway project in June last year, when passenger buses were allowed to resume operations despite the pandemic, provided they limit their capacity.

Under the project, buses were restricted to a single lane and bus stops were set up along the “center island” or traffic median.

“From numerous plans, schemes, and proposals to decongest Edsa, having most of them either highly criticized or defied, the transformation of our main thoroughfare is well underway with the establishment of the Edsa Busway,” Tugade said.

Protected bike lanes

Whereas before, he said, “it was a jumble (halo-halo); there were no bike lanes’’ and “traffic congestion was worsened by illegal terminals; buses loading and unloading anywhere they want.”

In and outside Metro Manila, Tugade said, the government has designated 296 kilometers as protected bike lanes.

By the end of the year, he said, the government would have completed 535 kilometers of bike lanes in Metro Manila and the cities of Cebu and Davao.

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