As Manila’s traffic is almost at standstill most of the day, the Duterete government is looking at eventually taking drastic measures to reduce Manila’s infamous traffic woes. State Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is looking at various alternatives to drastically curb the number of cars in the streets of Metro Manila.
Motor vehicle sales have boomed in recent years, growing on average by 27% each year this decade. Industry analysts observe that the Philippines has crossed the “motorization” average income threshold, or that level at which vehicle ownership becomes widely accessible. Last year, the automobile industry counted 321,532 new motor vehicles sold in the country. A total of 419,339 motor vehicles were registered for the first time, implying that nearly 100,000 new and used cars must have also been imported. All together, this implies that around 35,000 new vehicles hitting Manila’s roads every month
Politicians within the new government are increasingly asking for a system (copied from Singapore’s), where car use is heavily taxed. Singapore chose to impose a limit on car ownership, and auction out the entitlement to own a car, to the extent that the cost of the license to buy a new car well exceeds the purchase price of the car itself. Such a measure would be revolutionary in Manila, where cars represent a symbol of wealth. The government could, however, implement the new law in parallel to a steep hike in car excise/registration taxes.
To discourage individuals from taking their cars everywhere, the government could also speed up the modernisation of the decaying public transport system with a total overhaul of the subway, and the set up of attractive alternatives for car owners. Modern busses and more LRT lines are the most obvious solutions. The need for finding measures to curb Manila’s traffic is obvious, as traffic jams costs a lot in terms of economic development, and quality of life and health. Mr. Tugade announced plans to place Mega Manila under a “traffic crisis” and has asked Congress for emergency powers in an attempt to solve the problem by 2018.