For both residents and visitors, the traffic situation in Manila is one of the inevitable topics of conversation. Here people do not talk about the distance they have to travel but how many hours it would take. The metropolis has commuter hours which equate to rush hours, but the joke is every hour is rush hour.
According to our friend Richard, one of his advertising clients Toyota produces and sells passenger cars at the rate of 1,000 a week. About 700 are sold in Metro Manila. The increase in new roads is zero. Add to that 2,000 motorcycles a week. Prosperity and a growing middle class, who are now able to afford cars and motorcycles, contributes to traffic congestion.
Many of our friends have drivers who will ferry them around. Cell phones have mitigated useless “hanging around” of drivers. Still we witness so many drivers circling around hotels, restaurants or shopping mall entrances to “pick up” their patrons.
J.J. and I have seen flashing green and red light on sides of toll roads. No one is paying attention and it is “sayang” (too bad) if an ambulance gets stuck amidst traffic. When we asked Dolores, why motorists disregard the flashing lights, her response was, “for us it’s not a command but a suggestion!”
As much as possible, J.J. and I meet our friends at the hotel or walk to the nearby shopping malls and meet them at a restaurant. Perhaps walking in the humidity and heavy air pollution caused by vehicular traffic is unwise, but for our brief visit, it is a simple and practical solution.
Aloha -- Cathi