Let’s face it: the heavy traffic along Puerto Princesa City’s main thoroughfares is not going to subside soon. This is despite the ongoing road-widening project specifically at the runway area, Bgry. San Miguel, and the newly implemented traffic scheme by the City Traffic Management group.
Vehicles plying these roads are increasing on daily basis, and it is a good sign that the purchasing power of the residents is strengthening. One of the contributory factors is also the popular offer of almost all carmakers of small and affordable car models that can be availed for as low as eight thousand pesos monthly. Even motorcycles are increasing—as motorcycles are the most affordable and cost-efficient transport choice of the masses. And today, owning a vehicle is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
Yet, the city’s central business hub is too confined to accommodate all these vehicles. It doesn’t help that these same roads (Rizal avenue, Malvar and San Pedro) directly connect to the seaport and airport, and mainly serve in our supply chain. And since it will take years, perhaps decades, to distribute the economic activities into expanded areas to decrease the concentration at these identified areas, the government needs to plan more initiatives soon.
Our options are limited. Almost all roads are experiencing heavy traffic most time of the day. Several motorists are already regularly using WESCOM and Abanico roads to escape the congestion at San Pedro, yet even these roads are already getting congested. Even Manalo street, which can be an option to ease congestion at Rizal avenue, is also getting congested. As I’ve mentioned earlier, as long as economic activities remain focused in these areas, nothing will help—unless drastic measures will be implemented, which will definitely inconvenient commuters and motorists alike, and at the same time may affect the livelihood of our drivers.
Discipline as a Missing Link
If we cannot add more roads nor provide options for the people to go about their business elsewhere every day, then perhaps we can enforce discipline to aid the traffic flow. Is the tricycle color-coding scheme still in effect today? Are colurums allowed now to pick-up passengers? If the government is to strictly impose these legislations, it will cut the number of tricycles probably by half.
The government should also consider conducting stakeholders’ analysis to determine the number of affected drivers and commuters should it implement the tricycle ban at national highways. It will significantly decrease the traffic flow at the main thoroughfares. And by implementing a strict tricycle terminal/zoning area, tricycle drivers that will be displaced at the national highways are sure to have passengers. It will also save our commuters from being victimized by abusive drivers that pick up passengers going to opposite points, while expecting the remaining passengers to “enjoy the ride.”
Adding to the traffic build-up are motorcycles and tricycles that make u-turns, and pedestrians crossing the streets whenever and wherever they want. If there are strictly enforced “No U-Turns” and pedestrian areas, we can expect a smoother traffic flow.
Bus Service, Anyone?
More employers or schools should consider providing bus service to their employees and students. The City Government has long been servicing its employees, and should Palawan State University (PSU) and other big institutions implement a bus service system and influence their students to avail of its services, we can lessen public utility vehicles (PUV) plying the streets. But then again, this option will affect the income of our drivers.
Identification of Loading and Unloading Zones
A big factor that contributes to the heavy traffic is the lack of identified and strictly implemented loading and unloading zones. Because of this, a driver may stop after every meter to pick up or unload his passenger, and not even caring to position the vehicle properly at the shoulder of the road, thus building up congestion and may even cause accidents. Puerto Princesan commuters are also one of the spoiled commuters in the country. In busy hubs in Manila, one cannot just hail a jeepney wherever he likes. Commuters there need to walk for blocks to get to jeepneys. Although we love comforts, there are times such as this that we need to embrace small sacrifices for the common good.
Number Coding Scheme for Private Vehicles, Perhaps?
Commuting or asking for a ride once a week to help ease the traffic flow is a small but significant sacrifice for car owners. This scheme may not necessarily apply to the whole city but only in identified streets with heavy traffic flow.
Bottom line, even if we press hard our government to provide immediate solution to our traffic problem, it is hindered by limitations that will take years to address. Perhaps what we just need for the moment is to do our part and willingness to endure our own sacrifices for the general welfare of our city.