Traffic > Decree

MMDA proposes new changes to the number-coding scheme

Number three may surprise you!

Vehicle volume in Metro Manila has been increasing these past few weeks. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

With the resumption of on-site work, face-to-face classes, and the other aspects of life we would deem normal as the pandemic is waning away, Metro Manila’s perennial traffic problem is slowly rearing its ugly head again. With Metro Manila at IATF’s Alert Level 1 for a while now, traffic volume is slowly building up, a far cry from the traffic-free streets we were enjoying for the bulk of last year.

In the regular Presidential Talk To The People aired last March 29, MMDA chairman Atty. Romando Artes disclosed several proposals to augment the existing Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, or more colloquially known as number-coding.

Three number-coding schemes are presented. SCREENSHOT FROM RTVM

In its current form, the UVVRP promises a 20% reduction in vehicular volume by banning the use of vehicles ending in two digits per day (1 and 2 on Monday, 3 and 4 on Tuesday, and so forth).

A modified version of this promises a 40% reduction in traffic by banning vehicles ending in four digits per day: 1, 2, 3 and 4 on Monday; 5, 6, 7 and 8 on Tuesday; 9, 0, 1 and 2 on Wednesday; and so on and so forth.

Yet another version is proposed that promises to cut traffic in half, with plates ending in odd numbers banned on Mondays and Thursdays, and even-numbered plates banned on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays, already known for the traffic that Baclaran Day generates, is a free-for-all with no number-coding implemented.

A 'daylight saving time' workday is suggested for government offices in Metro Manila. SCREENSHOT FROM RTVM

A “Daylight Saving Time” measure (which is, weirdly enough, different from the Daylight Savings Time that residents of temperate and arctic climates are more familiar with) is also proposed, shifting work hours of government offices earlier.

Shortened working days are also being studied to help with reducing traffic. SCREENSHOT FROM RTVM

Yet another proposal is transitioning to either a four-day, 10-hour workweek, or a four-day on-site/one-day work-from-home arrangement. This isn’t a new idea—the National Economic Development Authority has pitched this earlier in the month, albeit as a way for the country to conserve energy resources instead of reducing traffic.

While the idea of a shortened workweek or the normalization of working from home seemed far too radical just a few years ago, it seems rather plausible with the times we currently live in. Some experts question the effectiveness of number-coding in the first place, and perhaps MMDA should look into the reasons why folks see the need to purchase private vehicles in the first place. All these proposals come with the express intent of reducing the amount of vehicles traversing Metro Manila each day, with MMDA claiming that 60-70% of the 300,000 new vehicles purchased in 2021 pass through NCR.

Different solutions to Metro Manila's perennial traffic problem have been tried. Some work, some don't. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Far more innovative ideas, to put them lightly, have been thrown out there in the hopes of solving Metro Manila’s traffic problem, both from the private and public sectors’ sides. Makes you wonder when we will stop dilly-dallying around and actually enact solutions that work.

Hans Bosshard

Hans is the ultimate commuter: He drives a car and he rides a bicycle. He also likes tinkering with mechanical stuff.