We all have an opinion—usually a passionate one—about how to fix the traffic woes of Metro Manila. That’s good. That means we care. That means we all want a solution.
In recent days, the conversation has dwelled on the construction of infrastructure—particularly roads and bridges—and whether or not this will actually remedy the permanent gridlock that motorists now deal with on a daily basis.
My answer: No, it won’t. Not in the short term and definitely not in the long run.
Let me explain by using an analogy: Building new and wider roads to accommodate more vehicles is really like giving your alcoholic friend unlimited access to a bar.
Okay, pedants will say: “Duh? Your analogy is wrong. The government isn’t giving us more cars.”
Fine. Let’s revise it then: Building new and wider roads to accommodate more vehicles is really like giving your alcoholic friend a new liver. Happy?
The ability to accommodate more cars isn’t the problem, in the same way that the ability to imbibe more liquor isn’t the problem. The problem is the addiction. The problem is the dependence. You solve an alcoholic’s problem by weaning him off his favorite beer, not by helping him beat the Guinness World Record for consuming the most number of bottles.
If all we do is build more and wider roads today, our car population will catch up in no time. And then we’re right back to the same problem—probably even worse. We need to do something about our overreliance on private cars. If people have good transportation options, they will stop scratching the itch to individually own automobiles.