A Definitive Guide to Manila Traffic

When you live in Metro Manila, heading out of your house means coming face-to-face with one of the most dreaded traits of the megacity: the infamous Metro Manila traffic. Every day, millions of travelers in and around the Metro struggle through one of the longest commutes in the world, with cars, buses, motorcycles, bikes, jeeps, and pedestrians all vying for space on the road. Over 370,000 vehicles daily pass through EDSA, Metro Manila’s busiest highway, and the metropolis itself has a population of 12.8 million people. If you’d like to know more about this perennial problem, or are stuck in traffic yourself, then here are ten top facts about traffic in the Metro.

Traffic costs money

The costs of your long commute aren’t just limited to the price of gas or your bus ticket— it’s got an effect on the economy, too. In 2017, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) found that over Php 3.5 billion is lost per day thanks to traffic, and that number may rise if nothing is done to alleviate the problem.

Your commute affects your health

Time isn’t the only thing you can lose on a long commute. Time Magazine lists out several things that can happen to your body when you commute, and they’re not all pretty. Apparently, in the time it takes to travel from your home to your office, your anxiety goes up, your blood pressure rises, your cardiovascular fitness drops, and your happiness and life satisfaction take a dive, among others.

More cars equal more time on the road

Traffic in Metro Manila is definitely a volume problem. With the economy on the rise in the past decade, coupled with the lack of public transport infrastructure, more and more people have been buying cars. More cars on the road means more time in traffic. In fact, Business World Online reports that vehicle sales only just dropped for the first time in seven years, thanks to high inflation and the TRAIN Law.

Manila has the 3rd worst traffic in SEA

Metro Manila has the dubious honor of having the third worst traffic in Southeast Asia, coming in after Jakarta, Indonesia (second) and Bangkok, Thailand (first). The study, commissioned by ride-sharing app Uber, was conducted in 2017 and found that commuters in the Metro were stuck in traffic for an average of 66 minutes daily.

Traffic is a numbers game

One of the methods employed by the government to alleviate traffic in the Metro is the Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or number coding. First employed in the 90s to decongest EDSA, it’s a system employed by different cities that restricts certain license plates on certain days. If you’d like an updated list of areas where the UVVRP is enforced, it’s best to contact the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for this and traffic updates directly.

You spend two weeks on the road a year

Unsurprisingly, the time you spend in traffic tends to add up. The Straits Times in 2017 reported that Filipinos spend an average of 16 days a year stuck in traffic, which amounts to lost income opportunities and health risks.

30% of vehicles are in Metro Manila

If you were wondering just how many vehicles there are in Metro Manila, then the answer comes in (almost) threes. In 2016, 2.5 million vehicles (28.7% of the total) registered vehicles were located in NCR, according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO). That’s almost a third of all vehicles in the country crammed into only 16 cities.

LGUs are road-clearing the way

The sheer number of cars left parked on the road in Metro Manila also contributes to traffic woes. Luckily, the government is trying to get on top of this. The Department of Interior and Local Governance (DILG) and the MMDA are working with local government units to clear out roads in the Metro, which will hopefully free up more space for vehicles.

You can do your part

In line with the above, homeowners can do their part in keeping the roads clear of illegally parked vehicles. Top Gear says that you can file for unjust vexation against car owners who park in front of your home, which isn’t a bad trade-off for all the stress and irritation.

Infrastructure is being built

With projects like the Metro Manila Subway— the first subway in the Philippines— beginning to break ground, the government hopes that mass public transit will go a ways in alleviating the traffic issue. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) projects that transport costs may fall to Php 2.13 billion per day by 2022, if current infrastructure projects are successful. Hopefully by then, commuters can breathe a collective sigh of relief.