IN CHARTS: Effects of driver-only car ban on EDSA

SORTING LANE. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority plans to test the scheme as early as December 11, 2017. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

SORTING LANE. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority plans to test the scheme as early as December 11, 2017.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A month has passed since the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforced two new regulations banning provincial buses and driver-only vehicles along EDSA.

The regulations were put in place after the Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of Metro Manila mayors, passed resolutions in a bid to decongest the highway traversed by more than 300,000 vehicles daily.

Over the years, there has been a steady rise in traffic volume on EDSA. While there was a slight dip in 2016, the annual average daily traffic (AADT) increased again to 367,738 vehicles in 2017.

In the same year, an average of 247,527 private cars passed EDSA, accounting for 62% of the annual average daily traffic. Multi-combination (MC) heavy vehicles ranked second at 69,438, while taxis came in 3rd at 20,022.

Public utility buses occupied 3% in traffic volume with an average of 12,283 units.

The MMDA hopes to minimize the amount of traffic by regulating private vehicles and buses.

How have the new regulations affected provincial buses and one-driver vehicles? Here are some updates on the numbers:

Provincial bus ban

As of August 15, no provincial buses have been allowed on EDSA during weekday rush hours – that is from 7 am to 10 am, and from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Northbound and southbound provincial buses are banned from passing through EDSA-Cubao in Quezon City all the way to Pasay City. This means that provincial buses coming from the south without terminals in Pasay City have to use government's southwest Interim Provincial Terminal (SWIPT) along Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, while those coming from the north have to unload in Cubao terminals.

The ban was originally supposed to take effect in July, but was postponed because of the still uncompleted government-owned provincial bus terminal in Valenzuela City.

A dry-run was set for July 24 until August 14 awaiting the final date of implementation. During the dry-run, the MMDA recorded a total of 934 provincial buses that passed EDSA, of which 406 were northbound and 528 were southbound.

Upon full implementation, only 7 northbound buses were recorded to have passed EDSA during the critical rush hours as of September 13.

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said that the decision to ban provincial buses is "anti-poor" as it brings "additional inconvenience, additional ‘minimum’ fare, additional time to destination, and double loading."

Driver-only ban

On August 7, the Metro Manila Council approved the proposal to ban driver-only vehicles on EDSA during rush hours. This came a year after the MMC first floated the idea of banning driver-only cars from the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, the one nearest the center island.

Under the new proposal, however, all lanes on the highway are now considered HOV lanes.

The new policy sparked an outcry from netizens, and moved the Senate to call for the immediate suspension of the ban. 

The resolution was introduced by Senate President Vicento Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The council, however, refused to suspend the ban and will continue with the dry-run. They have yet to set an actual implementation date.

From August 15 to September 13, the official start of the dry-run, 35,627 driver-only vehicles still passed through EDSA during the rush hours. It's worth noting that the recorded number of single drivers has been steadily decreasing from the first day of the test-implementation.

The problem with the new HOV traffic scheme, however, is that a number of vehicles are tinted, making it difficult for MMDA officers to accurately monitor those with single drivers. 

A total of 12,290 tinted vehicles have been recorded from August 15 to September 13. This means it is possible that an average of 585 tinted vehicles a day could be carrying single drivers throughout that given period.

The dry-run will continue until further notice. Through this new policy, the MMDA sees a 40% reduction of vehicles on EDSA during rush hours.

Reports on how effective the imposed bans have been, however, have yet to be accomplished. –