Anyone living in the Philippines knows that EDSA is one of the worst roads in the entire world when it comes to traffic. In the pre-pandemic world, everyone used to be stuck on that 23.8-kilometer stretch for hours on end longing to arrive at their workplace on time or get home early. In addition to it being the bane of every worker in Metro Manila, it’s also a dangerous road where many motorists have met their untimely fate. Needless to say, everyone has been calling out for the government to make EDSA better and solutions have been suggested left and right. Sadly, none have worked so far.
The tollgate proposal
During an interview with OneNews/TV5 program The Chiefs last week, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing mentioned the proposal for electronic road pricing during rush hour at EDSA. The ideal plan was to implement it from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Quezon Avenue up to Roxas Boulevard.
Metro Manila Development Authority general manager Jojo Garcia said that the proposal to put up a tollgate on EDSA “makes sense.” He said that it could reduce the number of vehicles on the road thereby loosening the hellish traffic. The idea was to charge motorists a certain fee and if they didn’t like it, they could always opt to take a different route. That should ease up the traffic, right?
The internet has opinions
Naturally, the news of a tollgate proposal along one of the major thoroughfares in Metro Manila caused quite a ruckus online. People were saying the proposal was “unnecessary” and “unacceptable” more so in the middle of a pandemic where government focus should be elsewhere.
There is a suggestion from a consultant of the government to enact a toll on the usage of vehicles of EDSA to ease traffic. This is absolutely unacceptable, all they think of is more ways to burden citizens, and make us part with our hard earned money.
— Boyet J. Sison (@BoyetJSison) August 24, 2020
Balak daw lagyan ng toll fee ang EDSA?
Dito sa gitnang silangan, bukod sa mura ang petrolyo, magaganda at maluluwag ang mga kalsada, maayos na pagpapatupad ng batas-trapiko, malilibot mo pa by land travel ang buong bansa na wala kang babayarang kahit cincong-duling na toll fee.
— Jude Abarquez (@JudeAbarquez) August 23, 2020
Best & brightest idea of DOTr – imposing toll fee to EDSA to reduce traffic?🥴🥴🥴 https://t.co/JG0wIsZlrm
— 🗿 andrè 👁👁 (@Andre07132000) August 21, 2020
And yet there are people who agree with putting an electronic tollgate on EDSA. They argue that charging private vehicles a certain fee will definitely ease up the traffic. Public transportation could have a bit more room once cars look for backroads to pass through. Some even cited other countries implementing a similar scheme and getting great results.
Tolling EDSA is a great idea, and a much better proposal than building a new toll road *on top* of EDSA.
Car drivers will have to pay, but in return they will get less congestion. Public transport commuters won’t pay a thing, but their journeys will become faster. Think of them. https://t.co/ZtPminu2QH
— anton siy (@anthony_siy) August 20, 2020
EDSA toll isn’t a bad idea.
Congestion charging (for the right reasons) sounds like a great idea.
See London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.
£11.50 a day to enter in a motor vehicle pic.twitter.com/JwhaXG8nOr
— justin (@justindedios) August 22, 2020
It sounds like a thoughtful argument about equity, but it erases the 70%+ of road users on EDSA who don’t travel by private car. It erases the 80%+ of MM households who don’t own cars. A toll on EDSA would immediately improve walking, cycling and public transport along EDSA.
— anton siy (@anthony_siy) August 21, 2020
DOTr and Malacanang rejects proposal
On Friday, Aug. 21, DOTr released a statement saying they have no plans in following through with the tollgate proposal. Suansing said that the proposal was initially raised when Benjamin Abalos was still chairman of the MMDA. He also mentioned that such a thing as tollgates on EDSA could only be done if there were proper and reliable public transportation along the highway.
Following the uproar over the weekend, the Palace also put an end to the news this Monday. “Wala pong ganoong initiative sa pamahalaan ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte. Kung meron man, sa ibang presidente po yun,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a press briefing.
Bigger fish to fry
So thank your lucky stars that an EDSA tollgate is not about to happen anytime soon. At least 2020 has one less thing to worry about.
What do you think about the EDSA tollgate fee?
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