MANILA – With the worsening traffic condition in the metropolis due to Christmas rush, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino on Wednesday appealed for motorists to be more patient.
He attributed the bad traffic situation not just along EDSA and other major thoroughfares to the high volume of vehicles going to shopping malls and other commercial establishments located along EDSA.
He said the agency expects the holiday rush to get worse as Christmas draws nearer has advised motorists that traffic will most likely be the heaviest on Dec. 19 , the last Friday before Christmas and Dec. 23 (Tuesday), the time people are expected to do last-minute Christmas shopping.
Earlier, mall and commercial center operators have adopted a staggered business hours to ease road congestion during the peak buying season.
The adjusted operating hours were agreed upon by the mall operators with the MMDA to ease traffic congestion during the holiday season.
Shopping malls along EDSA open at 11 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. up to Jan. 3, 2015.
Malls will open at 12 noon and close at 7 p.m.on Dec. 24 and 31.
Malls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1),
Tolentino said gridlocks were mainly due to holiday shoppers, especially among malls along EDSA despite the adjusted mall hours.
Earlier, Tolentino said the agency came up with a list of Christmas-related efforts as part of its traffic mitigating measures this season.
Tolentino said that the agency already deployed additional 443 personnel to assist the motorist and to avoid traffic delays; he advised motorist to use designated alternate routes under the “Christmas Airport and Shopping Loops” that started last Dec. 5 until Jan. 5.
The agency also extended the operating hours of Pasig River Ferry System.
It added the moratorium period on reblocking and road repair starting Dec. 15 while the agency also dispatched EDSA Christmas shuttle and airport shuttles.
The MMDA noted that traffic volume usually rises 15 to 20 percent between November and December.
Tolentino earlier asked Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to consider extending the operating hours of MRT-3 to 11:30 pm to accommodate the larger number of people going out to do their shopping.
The MRT-3 line serves 13 stations on EDSA where it passes through four cities: Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasay.
But the DOTC has rejected a proposal of the MMDA to extend the Metro Rail Transit’s operating hours to 11:30 p.m. during the holiday season, saying it is not necessary.
“We just wanted to help the people who are going home late because of the Christmas rush, but unfortunately they rejected us,” Tolentino said.
DOTC spokesman Miguel Sagcal said the last train leaving the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City at 11 p.m. would be in just in time to give the MRT-3 management time to do maintenance work on all the trains.
“Ever since we’ve been doing maintenance work at 12 midnight, so all trains should be in the garage at the North Avenue Station depot at 11:30 pm,” Sagcal said.The MRT-3 trains start running at 4:30 a.m. and the last train leaves the Pasay City Station at 11 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends the service starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m.