All right, now we’ve gone and done it. We got ourselves declared the city with the worst traffic in the world. See here.
Of course I don’t dispute it. Manila does have the worst traffic in the world, bar none. It comes from too many cars, and too little roads. Secondarily, from lack of discipline. It wouldn’t be so bad if we only followed the rules, but most Filipinos are thick-headed and look out only for themselves.
I don’t feel it much these days, because I sold my car and take public transport. I feel it when I take the cab sometimes, but my commutes are usually short, and for the long ones, like to the Makati Commercial Center or downtown Manila, I usually take the train. The few times I have to travel during rush hour and the trains are packed, I take the air conditioned bus and just sleep through the traffic.
But often, even the short rides are unbearable. Sometimes, the short 2.5 kilometer jeepney rides to Cubao take 30-45 minutes, particularly during rush hour. I could literally just hoof it, and it would take much less time. Believe me, because I’ve actually done it.
When you have to sit out hours-long traffic to traverse what should take you 30 minutes, you know something’s definitely wrong. Even President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte is planning to exercise emergency executive powers to finally solve the problem, I hear. I didn’t vote for you, but good luck, sir.
I’m reminded of one particularly horrible day when I was coming home from work and still drove a car. We were living in a quiet subdivision near Congressional Avenue back then. I was relatively near the house already, but the damn traffic wasn’t moving at all.
I got to maybe just six blocks from the house, and that was around 6PM. By 8:30 I had just moved a few car lengths ahead, and by 9:30 I decided to just leave the car on the curb and just walk home and come back for the car later around midnight.
I came back around 12:30, and the traffic still hadn’t moved much. I couldn’t believe it. I just went home again and slept, and came back at 6AM. Sometime in the early morning the traffic had cleared, and Congressional Avenue was nearly deserted, with just my car up on the sidewalk. I drove it back home and took the friggin day off.
I never did find out what caused that jam, and I never will. But when the world says we have the worst traffic in the world, I believe it.