Manila Traffic: What Causes It, Solutions, and How to Avoid It

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Filipinos living outside the capital have all seen the news: traffic in Metro Manila is hellish. But they can still be shocked when they avail a car for rent and self-drive in Manila themselves.

But what causes this dreaded traffic in Manila? What is the government doing to ease it? And most importantly, what can you do to avoid it when you badly need to drive around the metro? Below we’ll attempt to provide answers to these questions.

Causes of traffic in Manila

There are several reasons why Manila was voted the worst city to drive on Earth. From long-time infrastructure issues to undisciplined Filipinos themselves, these contribute to the underlying traffic in the metro.

  1. Poor urban planning. The problem of traffic in Metro Manila did not happen overnight. The poor urban planning from 30 to 40 years ago is to blame for the metro’s current road nightmare. The lack of infrastructure plus the absence of an efficient and integrated transport system are the root of Metro Manila’s traffic problems.
  2. Increasing number of vehicles. The Philippines’ economic growth also plays a role in this dilemma. As the country becomes one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, more Filipinos can buy cars. This posed a problem because of the lack of infrastructure in the capital. The number of vehicles in Metro Manila has boomed, but the road network hardly increased.
  3. Lack of discipline. On average, Filipino drivers commit 70,000 violations monthly. This statistic is based on MMDA’s “May Huli Ba?” database. This lack of discipline among Filipino drivers, or perhaps, lack of knowledge of the traffic rules, can be rooted in the disappointing stories of getting a PH driver’s license. But not only drivers are guilty of this; even pedestrians’ blatant disregard of the traffic laws cause road traffics, accidents, and countless deaths on Manila’s streets.

Government solutions

After years of futile efforts (or lack thereof), the current administration has finally seen and is addressing this long-time problem with its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. Transport facilities are on its way according to Transport Undersecretary for Planning Benny Reynoso, with the P356-billion Metro Manila Subway flagship project under the said program.

However, the infrastructure program will take more than 10 years to complete, according to MMDA. Short-term solutions are being implemented to ease the Metro Manila traffic for now. This includes setting up car purchase regulations and encouraging carpooling among those traversing the metro.

Tips to avoid traffic in Manila

Heavy traffic on the road

If you find yourself needing to self-drive in Manila using a car for rent, do yourself a favor and heed these tips to avoid the dreaded traffic the capital is known for.

  • Avoid rush hour. If you’re traveling to Manila, drive as early as 4:30 to 5:00 am or leave before 4:30 pm. Traffic is usually at its worst from 7:00 am to 9:00 am and 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • Study alternate routes.
  • Use navigation and traffic update apps like Waze, MMDA Traffic Navigator, and iOnTheRoad.
  • Keep your distance from jeepneys. They are notorious “Kings of the Road” with their careless swerving and arrogant driving.

When you did all the above tips and still got stuck in traffic, entertain yourself. Listen to music, watch a movie, or read novels because it will take you hours before you escape the hell that is Manila traffic you are in.

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