Some Filipinos called on Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian to be proactive in addressing traffic issues following a social media post where he complained about the constant traffic on the North Luzon Expressway.
The lawmaker on Saturday shared a picture showing the traffic situation along NLEX and lamented how the expressway has not been living up to its name. The photo was taken from inside his vehicle.
“Bilang regular user at nagbabayad sa @NLEXexpressways
para mabilis kami makauwi, lagi na lang traffic, lalo na ‘pag weekends,” Gatchalian wrote on the X (formerly Twitter) platform on January 20.
“Sayang lang bayad ng mga motorist. Hindi na express [‘yong] expressway,” he added, referring to the toll fees passersby need to pay to go to the expressway.
Bilang regular user at nagbabayad sa @NLEXexpressways para mabilis kami makauwi, lagi na lang traffic lalo na pag weekends. Sayang lang bayad ng mga motorist. Hindi na express yon expressway. pic.twitter.com/OyWPtH7qvW
— Sherwin Gatchalian (@stgatchalian) January 20, 2024
Gatchalian’s post prompted some Pinoys to urge him to use his position in the government to provide solutions or at least alleviate the perennial issue in Metro Manila — vehicular traffic.
“There are ways to study this and make sound policy suggestions using data science, senator @stgatchalian,” a data science student said.
“You should legislate more on how to ease the burden of traffic on the major thoroughfares. Am I right, sir?” another user commented.
“Nugagawen po, @stgatchalian. Puro kayo reklamo, eh kayo itong mga nasa pwesto!!!! Kayo mag-isip ng solusyon… ‘di ba PASWELDO NAMIN KAYO!!!! Magtrabaho kayo para umayos ang lagay ng Pinas…” wrote a different Pinoy.
“Gee, now, if only someone could propose legislation to improve things somewhat, no?” another user commented on Gatchalian’s post.
Another Filipino reminded the lawmaker that he has “the power to legislate [and] approve budget for infrastructure.”
In November 2022, Sen. Nancy Binay also complained about the heavy traffic on the Skyway.
Her post triggered a renewed call for better mass transportation from commuters, while others reminded her that she is in a position to proactively do something about the issue as a lawmaker.
Last Friday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was called out for using a presidential chopper to go to the two-day Coldplay concert in the Philippine Arena at Bulacan.
Other concertgoers have to brave the traffic on NLEX, the same expressway Gatchalian complained about in his post.
Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin also mentioned the traffic, saying that people have to “come through that bull*h*t” to go to the concert venue.
The president reportedly smiled and then covered his face upon hearing the remark.
Meanwhile, Presidential Security Group Commander Major General Nelson Morales said that Marcos had to use a chopper due to the “unexpected influx” of 40,000 people during Coldplay’s concert on the first day.
Morales added that it resulted in an “unforeseen traffic complications along the route,” which prompted them to take a “decisive action by opting for the presidential chopper.”
The PSG commander also said that it recognized the traffic situation as “a potential threat to the security of our president.”
This month, transportation data company TomTom noted in its 2023 Traffic Index that Metro Manila was the worst place in the world to experience metro traffic.
The TomTom Traffic Index assesses the traffic conditions in metropolitan areas across the globe, analyzing factors like road infrastructure, speed limits and vehicle flow.
The traffic index said that Metro Manila drivers spent an average of 25 minutes and 30 seconds just to travel 10 kilometers in 2023. This is the slowest, compared to 387 areas mentioned in the study.
The data translates to 117 hours lost in traffic last year for those in the National Capital Region, a time equivalent to almost five days.
TomTom said that the worst day and time to travel in Metro Manila is Friday, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. It added that a 10-kilometer drive took an average of 35 minutes and 30 seconds.
From ranking second in 2022, Metro Manila took the top spot among metro areas in the 2023 index, overtaking Bogota in Colombia, which dropped to fifth (23 minutes and 30 seconds).
For comparison, some of the largest metro areas in Southeast Asia — Singapore, Jakarta in Indonesia, Bangkok in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia — clocked less than 20 minutes.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority acting chair Don Artes admitted that record-high sales of private vehicles are among the reasons for vehicular congestion on the roads.
He also said that Metro Manila’s roads are already structurally over capacity, adding that over 400,000 vehicles ply EDSA every day, even if it only has a carrying capacity of 300,000 a day.
Artes also acknowledged that government projects such as the construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project are among the reasons.
The Department of Transportation said it is committed to solving the perennial traffic problem through public-private partnerships (PPPs), adding that it is working on speeding up road projects to mitigate the traffic mess.
“We will fast-track road projects while collaborating with the appropriate agencies with the help of the private sector,” the agency said.