How Metro Manila should solve traffic problems - here's what the experts say

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How Metro Manila should solve traffic problems - here's what the experts say
If there’s one thing Metro Manileños like to talk about more than the weather, it’s traffic. Traffic is the plague of workers, residents and visitors to the city.

EDSA traffic is ridiculously slow. If you've ever walked five kph on your gym treadmill - a pace that barely breaks a sweat for most people - you’ve matched or bettered typical speeds for vehicles navigating much of EDSA.

There are a few simple steps Metro Manila should take. The city has too many cars, and not enough streets and roadways to put them on. There needs to be fewer cars and more cyclists, pedestrians, and mass-transit riders.

And this is according to two urban planning advocates, Karima Palafox and Paulo Alcazaren, who gave pieces of their advice during TV5's "Bilang Pilipino, Ano’ng Say Mo?" symposium at their office in Mandaluyong City, a special coverage of this year's elections.

Popular motoring website Top Gear Philippines was there and shares what it learned from Palafox and Alcarazen:

1. Building more roads is not smart. According to Alcazaren, trying to address the traffic situation by building more roads is tantamount to dealing with gluttony by loosening your belt--it will only worsen the problem. "It's an accepted fact even by traffic engineers. The more roads you build, the more traffic you will induce."

2. More safe, efficient and convenient transportation alternatives. According to Palafox, a big part of the issue is that people lack other modes of transport, saying we need smarter alternatives. An improved MRT/LRT system, effective bus rapid transit systems, etc.

3. People should learn to walk or take public transportation. Palafox said, "now is the best time for the Philippine government to find ways on how to encourage motorists to get out of their cars when it’s possible for them to walk." She added that, "In New York, along one of the most famous streets in the world, Broadway Street, they closed portions of it including Times Square. It may seem counterintuitive, but after a year, the speed of taxis actually increased, so cars ended up being faster."

4. Car ownership must be made more expensive. Palafox pointed out that "In Singapore, aside from congestion charging, they auction out a right to use the road or buy a car. The last auction, a license was worth something like PHP2 million... in Denmark, cars are taxed 180% of their market value."

5. Empowerment of other metro areas. There are more places which exists outside of Metro Manila, namely, Iloilo, Laoag and Angeles in Pampanga. She added that people will not flock to these places overnight, as there are factors like livability to consider. "Because even if Manila is very congested, we love it here. We're still here because we have healthcare and security compared to other places in the Philippines."


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