Earlier this week, Department of Transportation (DOTr) chief Arthur Tugade submitted to the Senate a 64-page document enumerating 21 transport-related projects it intended to undertake if the executive branch was granted expanded powers. In this light, reports The Standard, Tugade likewise submitted a draft bill on emergency powers to address the transportation crisis. The bill is called the Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016.
The the Senate committee on public services, which is chaired by Senator Grace Poe, received Tugade's submissions and have begun conducting the hearing on the the proposed measures.
The Standard went on cite Poe's statement that "the technical working group will scrutinize the list of projects on September 8" and will still have to consult the sectors affected by the proposed measures against traffic woes. The hearings will resume September 22, when local government units will be given the chance to comment on the impact of the projects.
That said, we're all hoping that the DOTr's proposed projects and programs will eventually ease or even put a stop to the torture of commuting in highly urbanized areas, particularly in Metro Manila.
Here are five major developments we can look forward to as long as there are no drastic changes to the DOTr's proposed projects.
1) Better road travel. As detailed by Ernie Reyes on InterAksyon, the DOTr has lined up the following projects to make road commuters' lives easier:
—Improvement of existing national roads (cost: P1.59 billion; timeline: 2016-2017)
—Integrated Transport System Southwest Terminal along Coastal Road (cost: P3.15 billion; start of operation: June 2018)
—Integrated Transport System South Terminal, FTI Compound (cost: P2.23 billion; start of operation: June 2018)
—Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 2, a 48.6-km line covering EDSA, Ayala, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig up to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (cost: P39.44 billion, timeline: 2016-2018)
—Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 1, a 12.3-km line from Manila to Quezon City (cost: P4.7 billion, timeline: 2016-2019)
2) Trouble-free train rides. When it comes to our train systems—the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR)—the following DOTr moves were enumerated:
—Procurement of new train coaches
—LRT Line 1 extension to Cavite
—LRT Line 2 extension to Masinag, Antipolo
—LRT Line 2 extension to Pier 4
—Increase of MRT-3 capacity to include procurement of new carts and general overhaul
—Construction of Line 4 from Taytay, Rizal to Pureza
—Construction of Line 5a from Makati CBD utilizing existing tunnel
—Construction of Line 5, a subway connecting existing business districts
—Construction of Line 6 from Niyog, Cavite to Dasmariñas, Cavite via Aguinaldo Highway
—Construction of Line 7 from North EDSA to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue
—Extension of PNR North Commuter from Tutuban to Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga
—Extension of PNR South Commuter from Tutuban to Los Banos, Laguna
—Construction of Mindanao Rail, Cebu Rail, and Central Philippines Rail
3) Efficient airport. As traffic tends to build up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), such are being eyed:
—Airport improvements including construction of exit taxiways, runway overlay and additional CCTVs
—Improvements in domestic airports to allow nighttime flights
—Calling for legislation to allow the government to redistribute air traffic while promoting air connectivity in other alternative gateways
4) Streamlined organization. The Inquirer reports that "a key feature of the DOTr's proposal is the centralization of traffic enforcement authority in a Traffic Crisis Manager, a position that shall be assumed by the DOTr Secretary."
The Inquirer went on to note: "With one manager subsuming the authority, traffic enforcement powers are stripped off other agencies, including the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine National Police (PNP), LGUs, Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA)."
It added, "The Traffic Crisis Manager shall also take over air and sea traffic management from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Civil Aeronautics Board, and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)."
5) Presidential intervention. The proposed bill has provisions for granting emergency powers to the President/Executive branch involved in transportation and traffic management.
That means the President is empowered to "reorganize the existing structure of the DOTr, LTFRB, LTO, MMDA, CAAP, the Civil Aviation Board, and the PNP's Highway Patrol Group, and all other agencies in the transportation sector."
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