Wading through the jungle that is Metro MANILA is always a really bad nightmare.
How much math does it take to figure out that 2 hours to cross 10 kilometers is actually walking speed?
Over the last 30 years and five presidents, Metro Manilan's have been desensitized to think and accept traffic as the norm, with all the uproductivity and negative thinking it breeds.
Jostling for a lane just makes following established rules and cooperation with larger rules impossible.
Counterflowing out of frustration, for example, mirrors the cheating and corruption in higher places, forcing rules to suit an arrogant sense of power justified by seeing others taking the same advantage of another's malfeasance.
The resulting chaos breaks down rules and ossifies into culture. Looking at Metro Manila and Metro Manilans and their resulting behaviors i am not surprised.
Frankly speaking, Metro Manila and its immediate Kapampangan and Tagalog speaking environs enjoy the country's highest Human Development Index and can contribute more than half of our GDP, despite increasingly becoming a net importer of food and electricity. I needn't substantiate that here. Go ahead and google the facts.
The rest, especially where the Marawi war is now, is at the opposite end of grinding poverty, continuously fed by unending conflict.
Juxtaposing Metro Manila with the inequality of its rural poor cousins makes you wonder what went wrong over the last 50 years, when Metro Manila's leaders were those to whom everyone had to bow.
Some reasons for the traffic
Yet the metro traffic they could never solve. Is it because the interests that feed on traffic remain entrenched? Here are some reasons:
1. Colorum this and colorum that owned by him and her connected to this of that Mayor, or general. oo many colorum vehicles clog the roads.
2. Public transport is no longer a public service, but a captured business run by transport operators and unions snd their corrupt cohorts within government. They always seem to dictate upon government.
As a result, we have this mishmash of operators and drivers protected by their corporate interests unable to improve or upgrade their service.Previous governments always feared them.
Consider these facts:The iconic jeepney rose as a result of the total destruction of Manila's tranvia lines at the end of World War 2.
It spawned a cottage industry out of poor public transport infrastructure and and with it, a powerful lobby against strict rules, a speculative and illegal market for franchises so loved by previous corrupt bureaucrats and their operator cohorts.
3.Demand side management measures like odd even and number coding schemes that only force people to buy more cars.
4. Recently, an entire battalion of UV express vans and "uber cars" arose because of traffic and the inability to expand light rail networks in the 90s as was originally planned. This of course, has the support of the rich, who love the better smelling cars and drivers.
But didn't all these measures just add to the traffic? All of these are stop gap measures that have contributed to traffic by increasing the need for the affluent to buy additional cars, and avail of their services.
5. Failure of infrastructure. the previous PNOY government boasts of saving one trillion pesos and turning these over to the Duterte government. Had these amounts been spent perhaps we would have more connector roads and systems to actually deal with traffic. But he chose not to spend on the needed infrastructure, preferring to show a fat bank account.
Despite these efforts and innovations in the post-EDSA period, efficient and effective transport we have yet to see for the metro. Unfortunately, metro Manilans and their mayors only tolerated these things, and passed the buck to the President. Many malacanang solutions from pook batayan to the task forceled by Sonny Coloma did nothing to lessen traffic. Blaming Malacanang for this will no longer fly. its time for locals to take action first.
Is this why we don't have more trains?
Anyone travelling to major urban centers throughout the globe know that public transport in urban areas are best served by rail systems. Metro Manilas systems are notoriusly inefficnent mainly because of past government incompetence. They failed to create the right connectivity that makes public transport more seamless and convenient for the millions of daily commuters. Ad to that , improper maintenance of train systems only enabled faster deterioration.
Thus the uncomfortable question is: Should mass public transport like train services improve, will the transport groups, jeepney unions, colorum bus and taxi fiends, uber and grab services go quietly into the night?
Will we expect a fight, and more traffic? Unless we all work to eventually control their own greed. I believe there is enough political will to do so. Metro Manilas should take the lead, and set the example.
What Metro Manilans need to understand is that a lot of the traffic problems begin and end with them. National government can only provide the infrastructure and policies, but if they do not cooperate by weeding out undesirable operators and pushing their Mayors to work with government, and help in enforcing rules (not being the first to break them), support the necessary infrastructure needed to create better connectivity, all these national government programs will end up creating more traffic.