There just seems to be no way of alleviating EDSA traffic, especially during weekdays and the dreaded payday Fridays.
With commuters and motorists greatly affected, several proposals have been suggested including the most recent one which earned the ire of almost everyone; the banning of private vehicles along EDSA during rush hour.
But for the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), this is not the solution to solve heavy traffic along EDSA. According to AAP president Augusto Lagman, he proposed imposing a congestion charge to private vehicles in order to reduce vehicular volume along EDSA.
“Why don’t we just follow with what Singapore is doing? Charge a fee for the private vehicles who want to use EDSA. So if you’re really in a hurry, then you would most likely be willing to pay a fee. Otherwise, take other roads,” said Lagman.
Lagman also added that banning private vehicles will result in other cars clogging up side streets or other avenues, which will end up congesting Metro Manila more. “There are not many wide roads in Manila. And if you ban private vehicles that would be really bad,” added Lagman.
For those not in the know, a congestion charge is a system put by a government or traffic management group that charges a fee in a particular area or zone of a city. Should a motorist pass through a congestion zone, they have to pay a fee (or toll) for traveling on that particular section of the city while in rush hour. This type of congestion charge has been in use in the city of London since 2003 and costs GBP 11.50 (about Php 746) per entry in the 7.5 sq km restricted zone. Failure to pay by midnight will result in a hefty fine.
As for what is Singapore is using (which is called the Electronic Road Pricing), it uses a system of gantries that have sensors and cameras to monitor vehicles that pass through roads that carry a fee. This allows the system to scan a stored-value card on a vehicle which charges it should it detect that it has passed through a gantry (or several gantries). The fee varies, depending on traffic conditions since they can be as high as SGD 15 (about Php 569) or as little as SGD 2 (about Php 76). Not being able to pay the fee on time will mean either a heavy fine, or a month in jail, if not settled within 30 days.
While no such system has been proposed before, Lagman’s idea of putting up a congestion charge along EDSA could somehow less traffic volume during peak hours. But that would mean putting up new infrastructure or a system of smart cameras that can monitor how many vehicles use the 23.8 km highway. Still, perhaps this system will significantly reduce the daily amount of vehicles that pass through it which can reach as high as 400,000 or more.
But since this system means charging motorists, we somehow have to ask as to who will handle or be entrusted with those fees should a congestion charge-based system be put up. We’ll have to wait and see if the MMDA, the DOTr, the Metro Manila Council, or the government itself suggest to have one.