Traffic committee: ‘Transfer of loading areas improved traffic flow’

SM City Baguio Mall Manager Rona Correa (left) and SM City Baguio Customer Relations Service Manager Peter Julian Jr. (right) present a certificate of commendation to SM City Baguio security personnel Bernard Ridon (middle) last September 4, 2020. The said commendation was for his honest act of returning a gray pouch containing P216,000 in cash and a BDO passbook to Peter Paul Diaz last September 1, 2020. **

The relocation of several jitney “paradahan” to Governor Pack Rd. has significantly improved the traffic flow along several major streets in the central business district, according to the Traffic and Transportation Management Committee (TTMC).
Pol.Lt.Col. Oliver Panabang and Engr. Juanario Borillo apprised the city council during the regular session, September 7, on the implementation of Executive Order 114, Series of 2020.
EO 114-2020 has relocated the loading areas of jitney lines bound for Mines View, Navy Base, Tiptop, Pacdal Liteng, Lucnab, Maria Basa, and Happy Hallow to Governor Pack Road.
The executive order, issued on July 23 by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, stated transferring the loading and staging areas of public utility jitneys to strategic locations will help decongest the traffic at the Central Business District. It further emphasized that the traffic problem and smoke pollution in the CBD “had reached an alarming level especially during rush hours, holidays, and weekends,” thus the need to improve the CBD’s air quality.
Borillo stressed that the stretch between Harrison Road and Magsaysay Avenue corridor is always congested due to the proximity of the jitneys’ loading areas to the center of the CBD.
The intersection between Magsaysay Avenue and General Luna Street is also a “point of conflict” due to the reduction of the carriageway of Magsaysay Avenue brought about by the heavy volume of pedestrians and vehicles in the area, Borillo added.
“The main purpose of transferring the PUJ loading areas is to improve the traffic flow by reducing conflict in and near intersections,” Borillo explained.
In his report, Borillo concluded that the move to relocate the loading areas had achieved its objective.
The city council, however, questioned the veracity of Borillo’s report. Councilors Michael Lawana and Arthur Allad-iw said the TTMC’s evaluation of the implementation of EO 114-2020 was carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic where there was a perceived reduction of vehicles and pedestrians in the main thoroughfares in the city as a result of the imposed restrictions on mobility. The aldermen said the evaluation would have been more accurate if it were conducted in a normal setting.
The report given by Borillo was a response to the city council’s resolution passed on May 27 requesting the TTMC to present an evaluation report on the one-month implementation of EO 114-2020.
Panabang also added that, as per his observation, the transfer of loading areas to Gov. Pack Rd. has significantly lessened pedestrian traffic in areas where the loading areas were previously located. According to him, the long queueing of commuters was addressed since the jitneys are now able to arrive and exit quickly. The fast turnover of jitneys minimizes crowding, he said.
The City Environment Parks Management Office has yet to finalize its report to determine the improvement of the air quality in the area in relation to the implementation of EO 114-2020.
The TTMC also explained that the spaces vacated by the jitneys’ loading areas will be converted into walkable streets to help promote walking either for leisure or for improved pedestrian mobility.
Panabang added that portions of the vacated Lakandula St. will be converted into parking slots for private vehicles. Councilor Mylen Yaranon opposed the plan saying public utility vehicles must be prioritized in all the city’s transport plans as they carry more passengers than private vehicles and they cater to a big portion of the city’s population.
The city council decided to continue discussing the matter in their next session inviting the concerned citizens affected by EO 114-2020 to join the forum.
During the citizen’s forum on August 17, affected residents and PUJ drivers expressed opposition on the implementation of the EO saying it causes inconveniences to commuters especially to senior citizens and persons with disabilities due to the longer distance they have to walk to reach their loading areas.** Jordan G. Habbiling

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