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By Gabriel Pabico Lalu, Inquirer.net

Two new number coding schemes that will ban vehicles from public roads during rush hours on two weekdays are being proposed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in a bid to curb heavy traffic in Metro Manila.

MMDA Chair Romando Artes presented the schemes during the weekly taped “Talk to the People” briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late on Tuesday.

The first proposal aims to cut down traffic by 50 percent. It will ban vehicles having registration plates with odd last numbers — 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 — off public roads on Monday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Vehicles with registration plates ending on even numbers — 2, 4, 6, 8, 0 — will be banned from public roads on Tuesday and Friday during the same hours.

This means that all vehicles are allowed to use public roads every Wednesday.

The second aims to cut down traffic b 40 percent. It would also ban vehicles from public roads for two weekdays during the same hours. But it appears to be more complicated.UnmuteDuration 0:30/Current Time 0:09Advanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next

Plates with the following last numbers would be barred on certain days under this scheme:

  • Monday: plate numbers ending in 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Tuesday: plate numbers ending in 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Wednesday: cars with plate numbers ending in 9, 0, 1, 2
  • Thursday: cars with plate numbers ending in 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Friday: cars with plate numbers ending in 7, 8, 9, 0

According to the MMDA, the current scheme cuts down traffic by only 20 percent.

Under the current number coding scheme, plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 are barred every Monday; 3 and 4 every Tuesday; 5 and 6 every Wednesday; 7 and 8 every Thursday; and 9 and 0 every Friday.

Traffic summit

According to Artes, those who attended a traffic summit hosted by MMDA earlier this March reached an understanding that vehicle volume inside Metro Manila should be reduced.

Citing recent data, Artes told Duterte that 60 to 70 percent of the 300,000 vehicles sold in 2021 enter Metro Manila.

“These are some of the proposals. We will still discuss this with the stakeholders – on how to reduce the volume of vehicles in Metro Manila,” Artes said in Filipino.

Traffic has been a worsening problem in Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces.

In a 2018 report, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said that heavy traffic congestion in Metro Manila costs P3.5 billion per day in lost income and opportunities.

In 2020, Metro Manila roads got some relief from traffic congestion because the COVID-19 pandemic forced most people to stay at home.  Some stretches of major thoroughfares — such as Edsa, C-5, Roxas Boulevard, and Aurora Boulevard — were almost empty, especially from March to May 2020.

But lately, with COVID-19 cases decreasing, more and more vehicles have returned to the streets, especially with a lot of industries mulling a return to office by April — if infections would stay low.

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