Traffic > Gridlock

Carmageddon? What Carmageddon?

The 5 things we need to do to survive Metro Manila

Taguig City, December 22, 11:23pm. Where did all the cars go? PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Because Waze has warned us Metro Manila motorists about the apocalyptic traffic scenario during this Christmas season, we’ve done our best to stay off the streets the past few days. Only important appointments have forced us to drive our car, and only over short distances.

And so, last night—Friday, December 22, three days before the big occasion—we decided to step out of the office really late (11:20pm) hoping to at least avoid the heaviest wave of traffic. Then again, if the recent weeks had taught us anything, it’s that Carmegeddon respects no schedules these days. Only three days ago, we were on the road at almost 3am and it was packed like hell.

Anyway, back to THE FRIDAY NIGHT WHEN COUNTLESS IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO THEIR LAST-MINUTE GIFT-SHOPPING. We were honestly expecting to sit in traffic, even close to midnight. But then this picture greeted us as we were exiting Bonifacio Global City toward EDSA:

Mmm…perhaps just a short-stretch aberration?

We got to northbound EDSA and found this:

Surprised, amused and bewildered, we drove some more to see if the phenomenon was also taking place in other areas. Yeah, we did slow down a bit as we approached SM Megamall, but it was nothing like the end-of-the-world chaos we were bracing ourselves for. Let’s check the notoriously clogged Ortigas Avenue, why don’t we?

Jeepney-infested Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City? Sure, why not?

And then back to EDSA, this time southbound.

We were thinking maybe there were much fewer vehicles because it was almost midnight. But then friends had posted their own shock on Facebook—during rush hour!

So, let’s see. We think we know what happened. We think many, many motorists got spooked by the Waze traffic forecast and either stayed home or left work at irregular times. Which meant they sacrificed, if you can call it that. And this teaches us important lessons about how we, as a community, might be able to survive this whole METRO MANILA IS DOOMED AND IT’S DYING IN 25 YEARS prognosis. These, in our opinion, are what most car owners did last night, and they’re what we need to do in the coming days, weeks, months and years if we hope to cope with the ever-increasing car volume:

1. People skipped running trivial errands or going to unimportant events. Many of us thoughtlessly bring out our cars just to fetch a pretentious cup of overpriced coffee we don’t really need to drink. We often drive out just because we’re bored sitting at home. This insensitive habit has to stop.

2. People carpooled. Yep, instead of traveling individually, friends and officemates rode together to common destinations. It’s more fun, more environment-friendly and definitely less stressful.

3. People walked. Because, believe it or not, human beings are actually designed to travel distances using their own feet. How many of us drive three blocks when we really could just take a stroll? The reason many of us are obese is that we’ve been too spoiled by air-conditioned automobiles. Your fancy sneakers are made for walking. Use them.

4. People just stayed home and spent quality time with family. Isn’t that nice? That’s the spirit of Christmas anyway.

5. People got out of Metro Manila really early. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the real solution. Decongest the megalopolis. Stop building high-rise condominiums in already crammed places. Stop migrating from the provinces. Stay there and let your brilliant public officials develop your districts.

Take note of these things. Let’s do them more in 2018 and beyond. Let’s give Metro Manila a fighting chance.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.