MMDA Studies ‘Congestion Pricing’ on EDSA as Traffic Countermeasure

Wilbert Tan

Days after scrapping the proposed modified odd-even scheme, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) disclosed that it is currently studying other viable traffic solution alternatives. In an interview, MMDA chief Tim Orbos said that one of the solutions focused on is the possibility of charging private vehicles for using EDSA.

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The agency’s chief added they are studying the measure with the help of Singapore, since the Southeast Asian country has the method in effect since the 1970s. Singapore’s ‘Electronic Road Pricing’ scheme helped the country reduce traffic by 45 percent in the central business district almost instantaneously. The scheme also allowed vehicles in that country to achieve a 21 mph (34 kph) average traffic speed, a significant increase from the 11 mph (18 kph) average before the scheme’s introduction.

Singapore offers aid

“The Singapore government has given its offer to help us,” Orbos said. “This is government to government consultation. People say we lack public transport but we cannot just wait for it, we need to come up with solutions.”

Orbos revealed that an earlier meeting took place between him and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport officials, with both parties exploring the feasibility of implementing a ‘congestion pricing’ scheme on EDSA. Officials from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) also attended the meeting.

The scheme exempts public utility vehicles (PUVs) to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home and opt for public transport instead.

“We need to reduce the number of vehicles time-bound; not the whole day. Taking EDSA as our reference point, right now everybody can traverse EDSA. With congestion pricing, there certain hours where there is fee,” said Orbos.

The charge aims to reduce high traffic flow not only on EDSA, but on other major roads as well, especially during rush hours.

“I think this is something we have to look at. I’m not saying we will already do it but we have to study it,” Orbos said.

Singapore isn’t the only location that makes use of the congestion pricing scheme. Other major cities worldwide where the scheme is in effect include London (England), Stockholm (Sweden), and Milan (Italy).

Similar to E-Pass

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Orbos said the method follows a similar pattern to the E-Pass scheme implemented on expressways’ where vehicles pay a fee when passing through tollgates. Orbos emphasized however, that they will not install tollgates on EDSA, as this will be counterintuitive to traffic flow efficiency.

However, Orbos conceded that the government will need state-of-the-art facilities to fulfill the requirements of the congestion pricing scheme, which Singapore enacted in 1975. Aside from an “almost immediate 45-percent reduction in traffic,” Singapore also saw a “25-percent decline in vehicle crashes.”

According to the MMDA, more than 236,000 private vehicles use EDSA daily, making it the Philippines’ busiest highway.

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