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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Briones: Friday traffic

IT HAS become a familiar yet unwelcome scenario.

Whenever there is a heavy downpour along the Banilad-Talamban corridor, monster traffic develops and stranded motorists line both sides of the road.

Last Friday afternoon was no different. The rain was torrential. So was the flood that ensued. I couldn't leave the house until around 4 p.m. since I had to wait for the water to subside. Driving was out of the question. I knew parts of the subdivision would be inundated by water, some knee-deep. I didn't want to risk it. Also, I knew traffic would be at a standstill.

I was correct on both counts.

So I walked to the guardhouse, which is around 800 meters from our house. But before I left, I stashed my shoes inside my backpack and put on my flipflops.

I knew I'd be wading through murky water so I had to steel myself. To those who have not undergone this experience, it's a mind battle. You remember the pet dogs and the stray cats and then you wonder what happened to their poop.

It was different when we first moved to the subdivision 36 years ago. When it flooded, the water was crystal clear. A neighbor pointed out that the current carried leaves and twigs and things from trees not silt and mud and I don't know what.

Back then, the subdivision didn't have a proper drainage system so the water would remain for days. So we would catch rainbow fish and tadpoles.

Fast-forward to the present, if I see something bobbing on the water I freak out. Thankfully there was none last Friday.

Whatever my overactive imagination had conjured up as I sloshed my way to the guardhouse quickly disappeared when I saw the non-moving vehicles on the road. When I looked to the direction of San Carlos, I saw hundreds of students outside. And no jeep in sight.

I crossed the street and waited. After several minutes, I realized that there were hardly any public utility vehicles. Not even taxis. They were all private cars heading in both directions.

The Ban-Tal corridor has four lanes. Two in both directions. Chokepoints are predictable. Before the City closed the access road to I.T. Park in front of the Aboitiz building, jeepneys would use that area as a makeshift terminal, stalling traffic in the process. That was one. The area fronting the Banilad Town Centre is another. Somehow, vehicles from the lanes under the flyover are able to cross traffic and make a right to enter the strip mall. Oh, and the approaches to both flyovers are formulas of chaos. From two or three lanes, vehicles are suddenly forced to squeeze to one, causing an instant bottleneck.

I'm not familiar with the traffic situation in this part of the city since I'm usually in the oval jogging by 4 p.m. so I didn't know if that was normal.

Anyway, after last Friday's experience, I realized that widening roads or implementing a BRT or an LRT system won't solve the traffic problem unless government also regulates the number of private vehicles.

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