Traffic has been a major problem not only in the Philippines but as well as other countries around the world. In the Philippines, the congestion of roads is vividly seen in the major roads that are being used daily by majority of the population of vehicles in Metro Manila. These major roads include EDSA, Osmena Highway, C-5, Taft Avenue and many more. According to a global evaluation done by Waze (as cited in Tan, L.,2015), the Philippines has the worst traffic on earth. In the survey stated earlier, Metro Manila traffic ranked number one in the worst traffic index next to it are Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Jakarta. This goes to show that Philippine road systems are ineffective in reducing traffic. Traffic has been present in the Philippines for a long time and has been acted on by previous governments and politicians but none that were effective enough to make a major impact in reducing road congestions.
Traffic in Metro Manila affects the lives of majority of the people living in the said region. According to Romero (2015), traffic has a negative effect on the productivity of the people affected. Traffic jams stall majority of the people in getting to their specific workplaces on time. Therefore, drivers and commuters spend most of their time on the road than in their jobs resulting in a decrease in productivity. According to JICA (2014), we lose an estimate of 2.4 billion pesos every year due to traffic. This is due to productivity drop of workers who are stuck in traffic everyday. Due to heavy traffic, vehicle users consume more fuel as a result, vehicle owners stuck in traffic have to spend additional money on gas. This increase in fuel expenditure also increases gas emission therefore, increasing pollution in the air. Lee Morgan (n.d.) also states that, in traffic, road rages can occur. Drivers stuck in traffic can get frustrated with the traffic and can lead to road rages happening on the road. These are some reasons why traffic in Metro Manila needs to be acted on and reduced.
Traffic in Metro Manila is worsening because of the volume of vehicles on the road, inefficient transportation system, and lack of discipline of drivers, traffic enforcers and pedestrians.
The roads in Metro Manila have a limit or capacity to the number of vehicles using these roads hence, going above the maximum capacity would overcrowd the road leading to congestion. Based on the video by Rappler (2015), the capacity of vehicles that the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) can accommodate is 160,000 vehicles. Everyday, the number of the vehicles using EDSA reach an amount greater which is 300,000. The growing number of vehicles in the Philippines specifically Metro Manila is one of the main causes of the aggrevation of traffic in Metro Manila. The reason behind this growing number of vehicles on the road is that majority of the Filipino people have the purchasing power to acquire vehicles. Meaning private and commercial vehicles are easier to buy in the present. As stated by Punongbayan and Mandrilla (2015), vehicle sales (private and commercial) have been increasing over the past years. From 2012-2014, commercial vehicle sales increased by 33% while private vehicle sales increased by 84% over the same period of time. This goes to show that it is easier for people to buy vehicles nowadays. It is easier to purchase vehicles nowadays because majority of the new vehicle owners come from the ‘millenial class’ which ranges from ages 18-35 who take up majority of the population (Punongbayan & Mandrilla,2015). Another factor affecting the growth of vehicles are the offered autoloans of majority of the banks in the Philippines allowing one to acquire a vehicle effortlessly (Punongbayan & Mandrilla, 2015). This vividly explains that the growing rate of vehicles on the road contributes to the congestion of roads.
In the present, mass transportation in the Philippines specifically the train and bus systems are inefficient compared to other countries. The roads in Metro Manila are not the only congested systems in Metro Manila. Congestion is also seen in our railway systems. The train systems (LRT,MRT,PNR) are flawed. Everyday people experience operation glitches that occur while in transit like sudden stops due to technical difficulties in the train therefore, leading to congestion in the train stations. The MRT is crowded with around 600,000 people everyday with the normal capacity being 350,000 moreover, this happens due to the malfunctions that occur in the train. Many commuters suffer because our train system, one of the widely used forms of transportation in the Philippines, is inefficient. Another form of inefficient transportation in Metro Manila is our bus lines. Bus lines are privately owned and therefore have their own set of owners. The problem here is that there is no uniform system. Many buses in Metro Manila do not follow rules moreover these bus drivers make their own decisions of where to stop in the roads and this in fact causes major congestion in roads. Despite the heavy bulk of private vehicles on the road, the boorish behavior of bus drivers still contributes to the traffic everyday (Jao-Grey, M., 2007).
Traffic is also caused by not just the population of vehicles or the inefficiency of our transportation but also, traffic is caused by the people themselves. Road discipline is lacking in Metro Manila. This can be observed with vehicles not following the stoplight system, motorists swerving in and out of their lanes, buses that stop as they please to collect passengers, pedestrians not following the pedestrian lane and even traffic enforcers who do not follow traffic rules and accept bribes from jeeps or buses in order for them to pickup any passenger anywhere on the road (The Manila Times,2014).
Traffic in Metro Manila has been acted on by the previous governments but none of them actually made a big difference in reducing traffic. Many solutions that the government has given include the presence of the PNP-Highway Patrol Group in order for drivers to follow the rules and regulations of traffic, the use of the mabuhay lanes, and for commuters the designated bus stops and the fixing of the railway glitches. None of these present solutions have reduced the number of road rage incidents or increase the productivity of workers. According to Clemente (2015), subway systems should be developed in the country. I can see this as a possible solution because it is feasible and can be seen in railway systems in Japan and Hong Kong. Another solution is implementing a merit system that is derived from the Singapore merit system in driving wherein there are corresponding penalties to traffic violations and the possibility of being permanently stripped off your driver’s license. President Rodrigo Duterte promises that “change is coming”. I still believe that it will come and that a major problem that needs to be resolved by PDDR is our traffic situation.