THERE is good news for Cavite-Metro Manila commuters. “Water jeepneys” between the Cavite City Port Terminal and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Bay Terminal in Pasay City started Monday, cutting the three-to-four-hour land travel through some of the worst traffic in Metro Manila to only 20 minutes. And rides will be free for one month to introduce the new service.
The Cavite ferry service complements the earlier Bataan-Metro Manila service which cut the usual four-to-five-hour trip through Bulacan and Pampanga to just 50 minutes.
With such great savings in time and effort for travelers, it is a wonder that we do not have more such ferry services connecting Metro Manila to so many towns and cities not only around the bay but also up the Pasig River to Rizal and Laguna.
Traffic has made Metro Manila one of the world’s worst cities to work in. It is home to the nation’s national government offices and agencies, as well as the country’s principal business corporations. In recent years, the volume of vehicles using Metro Manila’s streets and highways has multiplied many times, so that Metro Manila has become known as the worst city to drive in. Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) which loops around Caloocan, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Pasay has come to symbolize this state of traffic disorder.
At the start of his administration, President Duterte asked Congress for “emergency powers” to solve the traffic problem but Congress has not granted these powers; the Senate has instead asked the Department of Transportation for a “master plan.” The Metro Manila Development Authority has drawn up some of its own plans, including banning provincial buses from Metro Manila streets, but that has not worked out because new city buses then had to move them on to their destinations.
The government has been constructing alternate routes through the city, notably an elevated highway connecting the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and another elevated highway connecting NLEX to Radial Road 10 in the pier area.
There is also a plan to make greater use of the Pasig River as a mass transport route through a ferry system from Manila Bay to Laguna de Bay with 12 stations along the route, to be expanded to 29 in four years. The Department of Budget and Management was leading the planning for this project in April, 2018, but nothing more was heard about it until the MMDA announced last Monday that it was reactivating the service, also with free rides in December.
In the ongoing search for ways and means to ease Metro Manila’s traffic, all possible means must be considered. The elevated highways will help but we should make greater use of our water routes. We thus welcome the new ferry service to Cavite City and hope other ferry routes can be established to other towns around the bay and along the Pasig, to serve the hundreds of thousands of people who now have to battle city traffic every morning and every evening so they can work in the city.