THE traffic situation in Bacolod City is unquestionably getting worse every day. In a year or two it would become unbearable, similar if not worse than that in Metro Manila. It will soon become the new normal, unless some drastic and immediate action is taken.
The deployment of a number of traffic enforcers has to a certain degree eased a little the traffic situation. However, we should not entertain the illusion that the same is the ultimate solution to our traffic woes.
Unlike at the early stage of a city development, problems regarding traffic are those simply involving the enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. It was then simply a police matter with little interference from the City Government.
Traffic lights were more status symbols than necessity. However, as the city grows the nature of the problem changes from simple enforcement of traffic rules to one of management.
Even the deployment of traffic enforcers is not very helpful without proper management, orientation and training. Believe it or not, there were times when the presence of traffic enforcers, even exacerbates instead of easing the traffic problems.
In Barangay Villamonte, for example, where we use to have our daily morning coffee, a number of us observed that the traffic situation worsens when traffic enforcers started manning traffic there lately.
This is basically because they have not been properly trained on how to assess or deal with a given traffic situation. A number of them have the tendency to exhaust passage of vehicles in an intersection even if they were still a little bit far by simply directing them to move faster instead of signaling them to stop already. As a result, vehicles in the major street/s build up.
Even traffic lights are not very helpful if the time span for stop, go and left turn are not correctly calibrated based on the counted number of vehicles and thus the time span needs continued adjustment or re-adjustment.
The circumferential road has diverted sugarcane haulers and other heavy traffic from the city, but we have long been seeing newer and bigger source of pressure.
Today, a look at a map of Bacolod City shows a mushrooming of residential subdivisions around the city where there was sugar land about 50 years ago. And it’s not slowing down. Added to it are people from the neighboring towns and cities who troop to the city malls in the city centers every day.
Clearly, this is no longer simply a police matter. This is not to belittle the chief of Bacolod Traffic Authority Office who seem to be serious with his work but the problem is just too big for him to handle alone. It is already a problem of city management.
Thus, there is a need for the establishment of an honest to goodness traffic management committee or group under the office of the city mayor composed among others, by the city administrator, city development officer, city engineer and traffic police officer etc.
In the short term, clearing the city streets from illegal structures or obstacles, prohibit parking in some city streets; make temporary use of vacant spaces as parking areas must immediately be implemented. Study routing plans to utilize the many less-used side streets. Passing a Traffic Code should also be seriously considered or pursued.
The long-term solution of Bacolod City’s traffic problem is to integrate it to its development plan. It involves developing multiple growth centers connected by carefully laid-out road networks and flow system so traffic volume and flow can be decongested.
The city should hasten the construction of another circumferential road/s, relocation and construction of new markets and public schools in the new growth areas.
Zoning ordinance must be completely overhauled with the end in view of re-directing big business establishments out of the city center by giving substantial incentive which can anyway be compensated by the expected increase of real estate taxes in the new growth areas. Extension schools outside the growth center should be encouraged. Development of a mass transport system into and out of the city and along major thoroughfares is necessary.
These are only some of the general ideas that the committee may consider or study, improve and implement at the earliest possible time.