Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino clarified that the Odd-Even Vehicular Volume Reduction Program to be implemented along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) from November 15, 2010 to January 15, 2011 should first be approved by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the MMDA’s governing body composed of the mayors of the seventeen local government units (LGUs) comprising Metro Manila.
The program will be presented at the Metro Manila Council meeting that will be held on Friday morning, October 15 at Quezon City Hall.
The program consists of two variations: one, wherein the Odd-Even Program shall be implemented from 7:30 am till 7 pm; and the second, wherein the program shall be implemented from 7:30 am – 10am, and 5pm – 7pm.
Another alternative, wherein the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or “number coding” scheme shall be imposed on all vehicles including currently-exempted public buses, is also being considered.
Benefits to be derived from the Odd-Even Program are as follows:
- Reduced Travel Time and Vehicle Operating Cost. Traffic simulation studies show that currently, average speed along EDSA during peak hours is at 30.75 kph. With the Odd-Even Program, average speed can increase by as much as 67%, to 51.29 kph.
- Improved Socio-Economic Activities and Productivity. A 2009 World Bank report estimated that traffic along EDSA and other major thoroughfares in Metro Manila cost the economy at least Php 277 million daily, or approximately US$2 billion a year in terms of lost man-hours. Reducted traffic congestion will facilitate faster access to central business districts; and hence, increase productivity.
- Improved Physical and Mental Health. Less time spent in traffic reduces exposure to harmful emissions and stress.
- Carbon Emission Reduction and Less Air Pollution. Traffic improvement will result in increased fuel efficiency and less air pollution.
The mechanics of the program under the two variations are as follows:
- The Odd-Even Program will replace the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or number coding scheme for the entire stretch of EDSA, but the UVVRP will still be in effect outside this area.
- It shall cover all types of privately-owned vehicles and city/ provincial buses.
- There will be no provision for “window” hours for the first variation.
- Odd-numbered vehicles with license plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 shall not be allowed to ply EDSA on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Even-numbered vehicles ending in 2, 4, 6, 8 and 0 will be banned on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
- Vehicles banned from EDSA under the Odd-Even Program may pass through side streets or cross EDSA, provided they are not banned under the number coding scheme. If they are banned under the number coding scheme, they may pass side streets or cross EDSA during window hours.
- The MMDA will publish alternate routes for motorists.
- Exemptions under the number coding scheme will also apply to the Odd-Even Program.
In response to comments that the Odd-Even Program would only transfer the traffic congestion from EDSA to the side streets, the MMDA Chairman cited a study conducted by the University of the Philippines National College of Transport Studies which found that even under the current number coding scheme, the EDSA private lanes have breached their maximum carrying capacity. Thus, while the UVVRP had reduced traffic, it could not entirely solve the traffic congestion problem.
He also cited a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency which showed that EDSA could physically accommodate up to 1,600 buses; however, currently 3,600 franchised buses ply EDSA.
The Chairman said the MMDA would coordinate with concerned local government units to clear alternate routes of obstruction and other nuisances.
As regards public perception that the MMDA and other concerned governmental agencies had not exhausted their efforts at proper traffic enforcement, Tolentino mentioned the following ongoing measures:
- Prohibition of diggings by water companies on weekdays;
- Formation of composite teams composed of LTO, LTFRB and MMDA enforcers to monitor EDSA choke points during peak hours;
- Deployment of lady traffic enforcers by the MMDA and the LTO;
- Deputation of citizen volunteer groups to assist in traffic enforcement
The Chairman added that roads comprising Metropolitan Manila consist of a total of 5,034 kilometers, while EDSA, is only 24.2 kilometers long. He also noted that during a consultation with bus operators on the Odd-Even Program held on October 11, the bus operators expressed their willingness to be under the existing number coding scheme, from which they had been exempt since 2004.
“We welcome other ideas from our citizen-stakeholders and look forward to a healthy and fruitful dialogue aimed at solving this pressing problem that has severely affected our economic, financial and physical well-being,” he added. “We would like to reassure the public that the Agency is doing its part to improve traffic enforcement, but radical measures may be needed to solve this problem.”