September 2, 2014
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Benigno S. Aquino III, has approved the "Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas." The study, done by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in close coordination with Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Public Works and Highways, Metro Manila Development Authority, and other relevant agencies, cited strategies to reduce traffic congestion significantly before it impacts the lower-income group who will be hardest hit when congestion worsens by 2030.
The JICA study concluded that without intervention, traffic costs will likely to increase to P6 billion a day, from today's P2.4 billion.
"The study shows possible ideas, technologies, and strategies that can help the Philippines address traffic congestion and air pollution in Metro Manila. JICA hopes to work with the government in implementing some of these ideas to help improve mobility, and the quality of life of people in Metro Manila, and its surrounding areas," said JICA Philippines Senior Representative Eigo Azukizawa.
Preliminary analysis in the study showed that the average low income group households have to spend no less than 20% of their monthly household income for transport. Without intervention, traffic demand will likely increase by 13% by 2030, and transport cost will be 2.5 times higher.
Among the strategies listed in the JICA study at the regional level are spreading economic activities to other potential growth areas including balancing development of agriculture, manufacturing, and services, protecting prime agricultural areas for food security, avoiding urban sprawl in hazard risk areas, promoting growth of regional centers, strengthening connectivity, and improving public transport services, and logistics.
The roadmap emphasizes the need to establish better north-south connectivity and appropriate hierarchy of different transportation modes such as roads, railways, and other mass transits. This forms the "Dream Plan" to have a modern, affordable, and a well-coordinated and integrated transport system for Mega Manila by 2030. The roadmap also recommends planned and guided urban expansion to adjoining provinces through an integrated public transport, affordable housing for low income groups, retrofitting of existing urban areas in integration with public transport, expanding multi-modal public transport network, and strengthening traffic management systems.
"Efficient public transport system is a pro-poor investment as it provides reasonable ways of moving. As well, it enables people to commute from suburban areas where one can afford housing in a more spacious and safer area," added Azukizawa.
One of the innovations proposed in the study was implementing a so-called "Intelligent Transport System" or ITS to maximize the city's existing road capacity.
ITS, the study noted, includes better traffic engineering and management that requires geometric improvements, pedestrian facilities, traffic surveillance, accident prevention, traffic safety education, and traffic enforcement. An example of ITS, as discussed in the study, requires a signal control system, travel time prediction, road maintenance, intelligent parking, incident detection, and bus scheduling assistance among others.
By putting modern technology and discipline into traffic management, the JICA study said the Philippines can make better use of available infrastructure.
In terms of social impact, the JICA study said that with interventions, it is likely that the average transport fare of P42 by a commuter today will be reduced to P24 due to improved connectivity and common fare. Travel time is also likely to be reduced from 80 minutes per trip to 31 minutes.
"By alleviating traffic, the Philippines can have more space for dynamic business and investment growth, and encourage economic activities in other areas outside Metro Manila in a sustainable way," said Azukizawa.
The final report of the roadmap is now available in JICA's online library at
http://libopac.jica.go.jp/top/index.do?method=change&langMode=ENG (external link).
You can also download the summary of the study is here.