IN A bid to lessen pollution in the Summer Capital, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong ordered "Carless Tuesday" at City Hall during the flag raising ceremonies Monday, January 20.

Magalong said the declining air quality in the city needs to be tackled to head-on.

"It is something very alarming. True enough, we have one of the worst air quality to the entire country next to Manila and Cebu," the mayor said.

A World Health Organization study has pinpointed the summer capital as one of the top cities with the most polluted air and morbidity rate which increased by 87 percent due to air pollution related diseases.

Deaths due to air pollution-related diseases have steadily been logged in the city since 2015, according to a health services report.

Statistics show an average of 2,136 has died due to pollution-related sicknesses. In 2015, there were 2,181 deaths logged, followed by 2,129 in 2016. For 2017, there were 2,267 deaths logged and in 2018 peaked at 2,338. In 2019, there were 1,767 deaths logged, seeing a decrease since the five-year monitoring period.

"I am challenging the transport sector. Let us work it out to modernize the PUJ and PUV sector," Magalong said.

The mayor added that with the Carless Tuesdays, he himself will be taking public transport weekly.

Data show there are now 603,243 vehicles in the city, with 22,870 motorcycles. A steady increase in cars were recorded since 2017 with only 7,556 but this ballooned to 15,510 in 2019.

For public utility vehicles, there were 23,076 three years ago and this decreased in 2019 with 18,662.

Sports vehicles in 2017 logged were 6,136 and this increased in 2019 with 6,582, while trucks logged in the same period were 1,623, and this increased to 1,706. There were also 110 buses logged, but this decreased to 98 in 2019, while trailers decreased to 70 from 76.

Steps to address the problem are being undertaken, said the mayor, adding that the expression of interest in the low carbon urban transport system has been submitted to the United Nations Development program and the Department of Transportation.

Experts from both agencies are set to visit Baguio City on the third week of January to plan out solutions for air quality and traffic, which will include local pubic rerouting plans, the planned cable car system, walkable city concept.