THE City of Baguio is a melting pot of sorts in the Cordillera Region. There is no question that at any given time of day a massive influx of people can be seen going about their business in the city, particularly in the central business district where the central economic hub is located. Given the current situation it becomes the responsibility of the local government to guarantee and maintain quick access and exit from this main center of activity, however, it seems that until now the right solution to the present traffic woes has not yet been found.

The latest attempt at solving the traffic congestion is the experimental traffic scheme that would limit the incursion of La Trinidad Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJ’s) within the central business district area.

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The scheme originally sought to unclog the traffic congestion at Magsaysay Avenue but for the past two weeks the expected positive reaction from the public as well as the affected motorists on the traffic scheme did not arrive or come about. Instead owners/operators and drivers of PUJ’s from La Trinidad as well as the riding public from that area clamored for consideration from the city arguing that they have been severely affected economically by the said traffic scheme.

In fact, during the regular session of the City Council last Monday some of the presidents of the associations of jeepneys plying the La Trinidad-Baguio route, as well as the traffic chief of the Baguio city Police Office presented themselves to the august body, purposely to clarify matters regarding numerous letters which these jeepney associations have sent to the council appealing and or requesting relief from the perceived adverse effects on them by the implementation of the said scheme.

After more than two hours of discussion and clarification the members of the City Council finally decided to come out with several resolutions as well as letters that may hopefully resolve the problem of these La Trinidad Jeepneys plying traversing the roads of Baguio.

On the matter of the implementation by the City of a double coding scheme for PUJ’s, the City Council through the passing of the appropriate resolution decided to lift the implementation of the number coding scheme and instead will apply the odd-even scheme for these jeepneys coming from La Trinidad. In order to address the issue of more PUJ’s having odd numbers or vice versa, the City Council passed a resolution that will implement a suggestion by the BCPO Traffic chief, P/C Chief Inspector Engelbert Z. Soriano adopting a 1-2 sticker approach in equally dividing the PUJ’s from La Trinidad for the enforcement of the odd-even scheme.

In considering the plight of some associations with less than ten jeepney units the City Council decided to grant an exemption from the odd-even scheme of jeepney associations from Bayabas, Kapangan, Atok, Kibungan, as well as those from Amsalsal in Sablan and Acop in Tublay. It was learned that Jeepneys from Acop and Tublay ply the Baguio route on a one-day-one trip basis. However although exempted from the number coding scheme these particular jeepney associations will still be covered by the number coding scheme.

On the issue of the use of Bokawkan Road by several La Trinidad Jeepney associations in coming to the city the council members decided not to lift the prohibition preventing these jeepneys from using the said road until such time that matters are clarified as to the actual number of associations using the Bokawkan route.

It was also agreed by the members that those PUJ’s from La Trinidad traversing Magsaysay road will be allowed to unload their passengers at the Magsaysay Rabbit sinkhole, while those with parking areas in the central business district will be allowed to enter the city center within the duration of the 60-day period of the experimentation scheme.

Meanwhile, responding to another problem being encountered by La Trinidad PUJ’s at Magsaysay Road, the City Council is formally requesting the Honorable Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista to investigate and if appropriate order the closure of a bingo activity located at the rabbit sinkhole. The complaint coming from the La Trinidad jeepney associations has to do with the traffic congestion in the said area brought about by the presence and operation of the said numbers game.

The members of the council were also deeply concerned with the increasing volume of traffic in the city that they have requested the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of Baguio (Fejodab) to submit a list of the actual number of PUJ’s plying the city. Likewise another formal request has been made to the traffic management Bureau for the conduct of a searching investigation on colorum PUJ’s and those deviating from their franchise routes. This was brought about by the observation made by City Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia that traffic personnel of the BCPO should be vigilant on PUJ’s having fraudulent registration documents as well as those found to have deviated from their regular routes.

Let us all hope that with all of these measures being considered and implemented by the city the public may yet experience a day where no traffic congestion or bottleneck will occur and no noxious fumes will be inhaled.

While we welcome with open arms our neighbors from La Trinidad and other outlying areas using or having their jeepney or bus routes here in the city, the city retains the obligation, authority and responsibility to protect and safeguard the interests of its citizenry in accordance with the provisions of R.A 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code.