The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will test starting Monday a traffic scheme on Edsa that will limit “driver-only” vehicles to just two lanes while allotting the highway’s innermost lane for vehicles carrying two or more persons each.
Under the measure, the innermost lane, which is also the closest to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT 3) line, will be for the exclusive use of so-called HOVs or “high-occupancy vehicles.”
Driver-only cars — or vehicles carrying just one person — can use only the third and fourth lane, and will only be allowed on the HOV lane for 100 meters if they need to make a U-turn. (Edsa’s first and second lanes are allotted for buses.)
Motorists caught violating the lane restrictions face a P500 fine.
The traffic scheme was approved on Tuesday by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the MMDA’s policymaking body composed of the mayors of the 17 local government units making up the capital.
It seeks to encourage carpooling and reduce the number of private cars on the highway daily by at least 30 percent, according to Jojo Garcia, the MMDA’s assistant general manager for planning.
Based on MMDA data, 78 percent of cars that pour into the streets daily in Metro Manila carry only the driver.
The test run for the HOV lane comes nearly two months after the MMC asked the MMDA to gather more data about carpooling and how it could help ease road congestion.
When asked if the MMDA had already conducted a study on the impact of the HOV lane, however, Garcia admitted that no such move had been done yet.
“That is why we are doing the dry run. We should not be very technical about it. We won’t go anywhere with that (mindset),” Garcia told reporters.
Earlier, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) expressed concern over the enforcement of a carpooling scheme as a traffic-alleviation measure on Edsa.
“When you do carpooling, the intention may be good but there are legal factors, such as who would be responsible if there is a [crash],” LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada then said.
Asked about the likelihood of the HOV lane being abused by operators of “colorum” vehicles, Garcia said the MMDA would have to coordinate the enforcement with the LTFRB.
Meanwhile, the MMC had deferred its decision on whether to adopt two more traffic measures — the odd-even scheme and the two-day number coding scheme.
Garcia said the council still lacked data on their potential impact especially on inner streets, which are expected to absorb the cars banned on Edsa on a particular day.- Jovic Yee
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