Last week, the Internet, especially social media, was set ablaze when the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced that it would be implementing the Enhanced Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Scheme (also known as the Enhanced Odd-Even Scheme) along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (or EDSA to you and me).
Under the said system, private vehicles would only be allowed to pass the major thoroughfare two hours at a time during the day, depending on their plate ending number. But alas, the scheme was so controversial that the MMDA backed off and decided to forego its implementation, at the risk of being burned at the stake by an angry citizenry.
The ink has hardly dried on that memo, however, yet here it is again. According to a news report by Inquirer.net, MMDA Officer in Charge and General Manager Tim Orbos said that the government agency is studying the possibility of imposing a “congestion charge” on private vehicles that will ply the 24km stretch. He notes that some 236,000 private cars traverse the road each day, accounting for around 80% of total road users
The agency cites that major cities like Singapore, London, and Stockholm have all been implementing congestion charging for quite some time now. Singapore, for instance, has been doing so since 1975. It immediately saw a 45% drop in vehicular volume upon charging motorists for using certain roads. The MMDA hopes that this will have the same effect on our EDSA.
Of course, the system is easier said than done, the MMDA Chief remarks. Unlike the similar e-pass, which is in effect along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), EDSA has many entry and exit points. The agency is looking at how and where it will set up gantries which will monitor the road usage via cameras and the like.
While we applaud the MMDA for tirelessly trying to solve our traffic woes, we will tell you straight up that these are merely band-aid solutions. If a viable alternative, such as a safe and hassle-free public transport system is in in place, then we can assure you that many of our countrymen would gladly leave their private vehicles at home and take the bus, train, or whatever else is on offer. But for now, it’s every private vehicle for himself.