MANILA -- Commonwealth Avenue risks becoming the "next EDSA" unless authorities untangle traffic jams on the highway that links the center of Metro Manila's most populous city to its northern suburbs, a city official said Tuesday.
The Quezon City highway is a "real emergency" also due to a lack of buses. During rush hour, buses coming from Fairview and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan are already full by the time they reach Commonwealth, said the city's traffic czar, Ariel Inton.
The situation gets so bad during rush hour that thousands of passengers occupy 4 of Commonwealth Avenue's 10 lanes, said Inton, a former member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
"Ang Commonwealth kapag hindi natin nasolusyonan ito, this will be the next EDSA, kahit ganoon ito kalapad," Inton told a Senate hearing on traffic, likening the Quezon City road to Metro Manila's main artery.
(If we cannot solve the Commonwealth problem, this will be the next EDSA even if it is a wider road.)
"Araw-araw po nagiging kultura na ng ating mga mananakay ang 'zombie mentality' - sinasalubong nila ang mga bus, public utility vehicles. Marami nang mga jeep out of line na, pero wala tayong magagawa, walang masakyan ang tao," he said.
("Zombie mentality" has become the culture of many of our passengers where they go after buses and public utility vehicles. Many of the jeeps there are out of line, but we could not do anything because passengers need a ride.)
Inton said the city government had tried to dispatch some 30 buses to Commonwealth Avenue but these were not enough to accommodate some 50,000 passengers based on his estimates.
The government is constructing the Metro Rail Transit extension along Commonwealth Avenue which is expected to ease the burden of passengers, but until this is finished, the government should find ways to ease for commuters' pain, Inton said.
Inton said one possible solution is to lift the number coding for buses during rush hour. But Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jojo Garcia said this would worsen traffic along EDSA.
Garcia reiterated that limiting buses to the outermost lanes painted yellow would help ease traffic on the highway.