IF Manila was a computer, then the operating system running it has gone haywire. Most commuters are used to heavy traffic, but it seems that every month makes the commuting burden worse and worse. The collective frustration with the seemingly impossible traffic situation has unfortunately brought about inane proposals, like making EDSA one way (I can’t even begin to think about how that would even marginally help) to banning cars by the model to replace the existing number coding scheme.
Most agree that a reliable mass transport system is the answer to our transport woes. As one commenter on a Facebook thread once said, the Philippine government must learn how to move people rather than cars, and only when it learns how to do so can we find real and sustainable solutions to our traffic problem. The epic tragedy that is the MRT3 remains as such: a rolling tragedy, and sometimes not rolling at all. The previous administration received its share of criticism about its actions regarding the MRT3, but enough time (and opportunity) has been given to the current administration to prove that its bright boys are better than those manning the DOTC in the Aquino era. Even former Secretary Jun Abaya’s most vicious critic, Sen. Grace Poe, is now asking the DOTr why the Dalian trains are not being deployed to alleviate the commuter situation. The procurement of the Dalian trains has been politicized so much (ehem) that the current DOTr is afraid to touch it with a 10-foot pole, to the gross disadvantage of the commuters.
But the MRT3 issues aside, the MMDA has succeeded in one aspect: antagonizing the riding and commuting public with its inane suggestions and decisions. Add this to the fact that the public face of the MMDA seems to be more interested in picking fights with stakeholders and media rather than actually communicating what solutions are being explored to ease the daily situation. It’s a pity, actually, because the workhorses of the MMDA—its ground officers and silent policy makers—are on the ball every day, rain or shine.
True, it takes just one shower of rain to slow down the metro but these days, it’s not just slowing down—it grinds to a halt. I know people who have to wake up at 4 a.m. and leave at 5 a.m. just to get to work at 10 a.m., and that’s just traveling from Cainta to Ortigas.
The morning radio program I listen to takes callers to share updates on the traffic situation from wherever they are, and ninety percent of the callers usually take a minimum of two hours to go from their homes to their workplace. Add to this already head-splitting mix the closure of one lane on SLEX in Alabang and the recent fire that crippled LRT-2, and we’re in for the most unpleasant year and a half of mind-numbing gridlocks.
As is the Filipino way, we rant to high heaven but we adapt and bear the situation. A friend of mine now has a portable massage machine plugged into her car charger to help her back pain while sitting in traffic. Some brilliant soul curated a fantastic playlist of songs played in UV Express vans on Spotify that can distract you from sitting in traffic. A couple of folks I know head out of the office like warriors prepared for battle: folding umbrella, water bottle, power bank, fully-charged mobile phone, and ear phones. How long we will have to put up with the inconvenience is anyone’s guess, unless our policy makers put their heads together in earnest, set aside other political considerations and actually start cracking the traffic situation.
In the meantime, enjoy your UV Express playlist.