MANILA (UPDATE) - Private vehicles passing through EDSA should be banned during rush hour, a lawmaker proposed Monday, ahead of the expected rush of Christmas shoppers.
The proposal to make EDSA a "mass transport highway" should be in place until the completion of the MRT-3 rehabilitation, the Metro Manila subway, and a road connecting the northern and southern Luzon expressways, said Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.
"Kailangan maihatid muna natin nang mas mabilis ang ating mga manggagawa at makauwi sila nang mas maaga," he told radio DZMM.
"Ang aking proposal, mula alas-6 hanggang alas-9 ng umaga, at mula alas-6 ng gabi hanggang alas-9, e ipagbawal na ang mga private vehicles sa EDSA... Mga mass transport, iyan na lang ang puwede nating padaanin d'yan," he added.
(We need to usher our workers faster and get them home earlier. My proposal is that from 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., private vehicles should be banned from EDSA. Only mass transport should be allowed there.)
Some 300,000 private vehicles ply EDSA daily, almost 4 times more than the 80,000 buses there, said Erice, vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila Development.
"Kahit doblehin mo pa, triplehin mo pa iyong mga buses at public utility vehicles d'yan sa EDSA, maluwang pa rin ang EDSA at mas maraming mamamayan natin ang makikinabang," he said.
(Even if you double, triple the buses and public utility vehicles there in EDSA, traffic would still be light and more citizens would benefit.)
Asked if the proposed ban should cover motorcycles and units of ride-hailing firm Grab, Erice said: "Iyan po ang pwede nating pag-aralan (that's something we can study)."
Lawmakers may tackle the proposed ban during Monday's budget hearing for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), he said.
MMDA General Manager Tim Orbos welcomed Erice’s proposal and said they may take it up with its council of local government executives in their next meeting.
“Pwede gawing hybrid gawin natin puro bus lang 'yan pero siguro ang private pwede dumaan pero dapat 3 to 4 laman para makadaan sila kasi etong EDSA dito natin pinapriority 'yung madaming laman," he said.
Orbos said if this scheme is implemented, they may also suspend a current scheme that bans buses from EDSA one day a week depending on their plate numbers.
He added that should they opt for a hybrid version of Erice’s proposal, private vehicles with 3 to 4 passengers may be allowed on EDSA even during the window hours, but their tinted windows have to be opened.
Erice, meanwhile, said his proposal is meant to end the suffering of ordinary commuters by making those with cars take public transport like everyone else. Those who insist on taking their own cars can still use EDSA outside the window hours, he said.
Erice said he is amenable to allowing carpooling on EDSA during the window hours. He, however, is against allowing ride-hailing services like Grab on EDSA during the window hours.
The average number of vehicle volume in EDSA rose to 405,882 in the January to August 2019 period, higher than the 2018 average of 383,828, MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago earlier said.
At peak hours, the main arteries of Manila are clogged with idling cars -- a 25-kilometer end to end drive through the main highway can take as long as 3 hours.
Home to some 13 million, there is nearly one vehicle registered per person. The resulting gridlock costs the city $67 million daily in lost productivity, according to a 2017 Japanese government-funded study.
Patients have been dying in ambulances while caught in traffic jams, a news report said last week.
-- With a report from Agence France-Presse
--With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News