The City of San Fernando, Pampanga is strategically located in Central Luzon, making it an ideal hub for economic activities and investments. Its proximity to Metro Manila also adds to its appeal as a prime location for businesses to set up base. However, with the influx of businesses and people, the city is facing the challenge of increasing traffic congestion, which, if not resolved, may result in San Fernando becoming the next Metro Manila in terms of monstrous traffic buildups.
Recognizing the need to address the growing transport issues, the City Government of San Fernando, has implemented some bold steps in the past week even as they continue to explore long-term solutions which may include an ambitious mass transport system.
It collaboration with private corporation Futran Philippines, Inc., the city embarked on an initiative to establish a Mass Transit System in the capital city of Pampanga. This long-term solution aims to alleviate traffic congestion and improve the transportation infrastructure in the area.
The partnership between the City Government of San Fernando and Futran was formalized with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 28, 2023, at Heroes Hall. In the MOU both parties signified intentions to work together towards the realization of the Mass Transit System in the city. And so, this is the beginning of a feasibility study, the first step in assessing the technical and financial viability of the project.
Futran, as the private corporation spearheading the Mass Transit System initiative, is set to conduct the feasibility study, which is expected to span six to 12 months. The study will determine the feasibility of implementing the system, including its technical aspects and financial sustainability. A key feature of the proposed Mass Transit System is the Suspended Podcar Rail System, which incorporates a "green concept" utilizing sustainable and renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
Mayor Vilma Balle-Caluag of San Fernando expressed her optimism about the Mass Transit System, emphasizing that it is a necessary measure to address the ongoing traffic congestion caused by the city's expanding workforce, infrastructure developments, and tourism activities. With the support of Futran, the city government aims to implement a sustainable and efficient transportation solution that can accommodate the growing demands of urban mobility in San Fernando.
The Mass Transit System represents a forward-thinking investment in the city's future, with the potential to enhance the quality of life for its residents and promote sustainable urban growth.
Speaking of growing workforce, the city government has also implemented a four-day workweek for city hall employees. This is a strategy that aims to alleviate traffic congestion in the capital. By reducing the number of days that employees need to commute to and from work, the plan seeks to mitigate the volume of vehicles on the streets, particularly during rush hour.
With the new work schedule, employees will only need to use their cars four times a week instead of the usual five. This reduction in the number of vehicles plying the streets on a given day can significantly contribute to easing traffic congestion. Additionally, the extended work hours until 7 pm can help stagger the departure times of employees, thus spreading out the traffic flow during rush hour. This will reduce the likelihood of traffic gridlock that typically occurs between 4 pm to 6 pm.
The four-day workweek can also have other equally important benefits. It can improve employees' work-life balance, reduce their commuting expenses, and decrease the city government's energy consumption. The revised work schedule may also increase employee morale and productivity, as they can enjoy longer weekends and have more time to rest and recharge.
The implementation of the truck ban along MacArthur Highway, from Barangay Telabastagan to San Nicolas, and the Poblacion Area in Barangay Sto Rosario, starting December 4, 2023, is another necessary step in addressing the longstanding issue of traffic congestion in the area.
This move aims to reduce the number of cargo trucks, tractors, gravel and sand haulers, trailers 8-wheelers and up plying the said route during peak hours, specifically from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm.
The decision to impose a truck ban is a response to the increasing traffic congestion in the area, which has not only caused inconvenience to motorists but has also hampered the smooth flow of goods and services. The sheer volume of these large vehicles during peak hours has exacerbated the already heavy traffic, leading to delays, accidents, and frustrated commuters. It is high time for a proactive and strategic intervention to alleviate this problem, and the truck ban is an impactful initiative in this direction.
Restricting the movement of cargo trucks and other heavy vehicles during peak hours will lead to smoother traffic flow, reducing travel times and easing the daily commute for residents and workers in the affected areas.
The reduced presence of large vehicles during peak hours will enhance road safety, lowering the risk of accidents and minimizing disruptions to the traffic flow.
While some may express concerns about the possible impact of the truck ban on the logistics and transport sector, this measure is necessary for the broader interests of the community. The inconvenience experienced by a small fraction of transport operators is a small price to pay for the substantial benefits that the truck ban will bring to the larger populace. Affected stakeholders, anyway, can explore alternative routes and delivery schedules which may ultimately lead to more efficient and sustainable logistical operations.
Whenever there are problems that need radical solutions, there will always be sectors at the losing end. That’s a price we should all be willing to pay.