Vehicle congestion in Katipunan Avenue has turned what should be a relatively easy commute into a sluggish, honk-filled nightmare. The main culprit: private vehicles.
Jose Regin Regidor, director of the UP Institute of Civil Engineering and researcher from the Transportation Engineering Group, said this is due to increased private car trips of the three big schools along Katipunan—Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Miriam College (MC), and UP Diliman (UPD).
“[The] increase [in admissions] contributes to the increase in the number of trips generated by these schools. Many of those who qualified … are from elite schools. Unfortunately, many of them prefer to use cars to go to school, resulting in traffic congestion, as well as a lack of parking,” he told the Collegian.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is trying to ease the problem by holding a consultative meeting recently with officials of the three schools, which included the UPD Transport Management Office (TMO) Director Aileen Mappala.
However, she noted in an interview with the Collegian that UPD does not contribute that much to Katipunan traffic, and it is mainly private car users from ADMU and MC that cause road congestion.
No Bikes, No Jeepneys
Still, Mappala observed the increase in private cars in UPD after the pandemic, noting that it has caused several safety issues such as vehicular crash incidents within the campus.
Before the pandemic, a study revealed that 30 to 40 percent of all vehicular traffic through the Ylanan portal were caused by non-UP cars that skipped the Katipunan traffic by passing through campus roads. However, Mappala admitted that the TMO has no newer data regarding this due to the difficulty of obtaining budget for these kinds of studies.
TMO is currently urging the UP community to use active transport such as walking, bikes, and scooters. The office also promotes public transport like jeepneys in commuting inside the campus through different initiatives such as dedicated bike lanes and coordination with jeepney drivers.
Mappala acknowledged though that while students are willing to bike or take public transportation, they do not have enough resources to use either.
UP Bike Share is not fully operational until further notice, according to its Facebook page. Meanwhile, the number of jeepneys is dwindling due to drivers not having enough income to upgrade to modern jeepneys and the MRT-7 project displacing them from their original route and terminal.
No Sticker, No Entry
Another factor in UP’s road congestion problem is the use of campus roads by non-UP vehicles, according to Regidor and Mappala. This is one of the reasons why the university’s “no sticker, no entry” policy, which was loosened during the pandemic, was reinstated on September 1 per Memorandum No. RLJ-23-01.
Vehicles without the sticker are not allowed to enter the Velasquez and Ylanan portals, and vehicles without passengers with UP IDs are also not allowed at the Magsaysay, Jacinto, and Pook Aguinaldo portals. Stickers cost P300 for students, P500 for alumni, and free for faculty and staff for the first sticker.
Under the policy, taxi and motortaxi users may still enter the university, but they must show their UP IDs or Form 5s at the entrances to prove that they are from UP.
However, Regidor suspects that non-UP vehicles still enter the campus, either through the guards’ leniency, or use of stickers under the name of a neighbor or relative from UP.
No Long-Term Plans
Even if UP’s own transportation system is perfect, traffic problems outside will eventually spill over inside the campus, Regidor said.
Ira Cruz, director of transportation advocacy group AltMobility, sees no end in sight for Metro Manila’s traffic congestion due to the MMDA’s lack of long-term planning and reactive approach.
“When we followed up the MMDA on the plans to add bike lanes to EDSA, their worry was for the 1 percent of people who can afford cars on the showrooms of EDSA and not implementing a solution for 96 percent of Filipinos who do not own private cars,” he told the Collegian.
Cruz clarified that car use in itself is not bad. However, the MMDA’s lack of support for public and active transportation options has led to car dependence—where students are forced to use cars.
Currently, there is no harmonized national policy on the use of roads. For example, the Department of Transportation aims to expand bike lane coverage in more roads, but the guidebook of the Department of Public Works and Highways severely restricts the roads where bike lanes can be placed, prioritizing private vehicles as the main users of roads.
"I want to see a Katipunan that’s designed for people, not for cars. I want to be able to see more people in Katipunan than metal boxes. I want to be able to see a Katipunan where there are multiple modes of transportation and where it’s safe for everyone to walk, cross and bike," Cruz said. ●
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