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‘Di makakatulong! De Lima warns single-passenger car ban to produce passengers-for-hire

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by Xave Gregorio

The Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) ban against single-passenger cars would only give rise to “passengers-for-hire,” Senator Leila de Lima warned.

De Lima said the new scheme approved Tuesday (August 7) by the Metro Manila Council would not improve traffic and would only be milked for cash by people who would pose as second or third passengers in a vehicle.

“While car-pooling (sic) may be commendable, this plan prohibiting driver-only vehicles along EDSA could give rise to paid car jockeys who are more than willing to risk their own safety by getting into the cars of strangers just to earn money,” she said in a statement Saturday (August 11).

Citing Indonesia’s experience with a similar ordinance, De Lima said the government should rethink its plan to ban single-passenger high occupancy vehicles (HOV) from passing through Edsa during rush hour.

Indonesia has implemented a similar rule in 2003 which gave rise to passengers-for-hire or “car jockeys” soliciting an extra passenger for HOVs with only one passenger so they can pass through a carpool lane. The ordinance was replaced in August 2016 with an odd-even plate number coding scheme.

“This instance should remind our government to rethink its plan before fully implementing the HOV because aside from possibly worsening the traffic in EDSA, they might put the safety of the Filipino people, especially those from the poor sectors of society, in great peril,” De Lima said.

Amid backlash, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said in a radio interview that motorists should first try to follow the new rule and appealed to them to “sacrifice.”

“Malalaman lang natin kung effective ‘to kung tayo pong lahat ay magpa-participate. Hindi naman po namin ipagpipilitan pag mali. May dry-runs po. Di naman po puwedeng isang sektor lang ang magsasakripisyo. Kailangan lahat parehas,” Garcia said.

But De Lima said the MMDA should not resort to trial-and-error to solve Manila’s traffic congestion.

“Our government should abandon its bad habit of experimenting on how to ease out traffic congestion during rush hours. It cannot always try its luck through a trial-and-error in resolving the perennial traffic problem,” she said.

Senate public services committee chair Grace Poe had earlier advised against rushing the implementation of the HOV scheme, which she estimated to affect around 60 percent of motorists plying Edsa.