MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) clarified on Wednesday, June 28, the expanded coding scheme it had announced would be implemented only if the National Capital Region's mayors will approve of it.
The MMDA's traffic plan drew criticism since it would ban private vehicles from major roads twice a week. Under this scheme, 4 last digits will be covered by the ban every day instead of the current 2.
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim announced the plan during a House transport committee hearing on Monday, where lawmakers pressed him for solutions to the metro's worsening traffic problem.
"The decision will depend on the mayors of Metro Manila. If they will not approve, we will look for other solutions. If approved, we will implement it," MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago told Rappler in Filipino.
According to Pialago, the mayors need to reach a consensus on the scheme. If at least one opposes, they would have to revise or scratch the proposal.
She said the MMDA is still preparing the specifics of the proposal to the Metro Manila mayors. MMDA policies are approved by the Metro Mayors' Council.
So far, Pialago said, no mayor has reached out to them to oppose the idea.
BANNED NUMBERS CODING SCHEME NOW EXPANDED CODING SCHEME Monday 1,2 1,2,3,4 Tuesday 3,4 5,6,7,8 Wednesday 5,6 9,0,1,2 Thursday 7,8 3,4,5,6 Friday 9,0 7,8,9,0 Saturday Coding scheme lifted during weekends and public holidays Sunday Holidays Coding is implemented from 7:00AM to 8:00PM during coding days.
"We are not saying that it is final already," she said. "We are just looking at the pulse of the public. If they don't want this, they might have suggestions to help us with the volume reduction problem."
There are 2.5 million cars registered in Metro Manila alone, she said.
Previously, the MMDA pitched an odd-even coding scheme which would have led to the banning of private vehicles thrice a week. The agency immediately shot it down after being met by vigorous opposition from motorists.
By expanding the current once-a-week ban to twice-a-week, she said that they see the new proposed policy "where we meet halfway".
Rushed and anti-poor?
Pialago admitted the expansion may be anti-poor, as the wealthy can easily buy additional vehicles to avoid going carless on any day.
"So this idea doesn't involve only the MMDA, " Pialago said. "Before we implement this, the MRT and the LRT should first be able to accommodate those who sacrifice their cars. We won't push through with it until our public transport system can accommodate the additional commuters."
Addressing the criticism that the policy was "rushed," Pialago clarified that the idea was released first "to test the waters" – to gauge the public's reception.
Asked how they are monitoring the public's reaction, Pialago said that they are monitoring through the statements released by officials to the media, and through "social media hearing," where they monitor online public feeds such as Twitter.
She said they will be looking out for ideas from the reactions that they will gather to reduce the volume of vehicles. – Rappler.com