After two years of online learning due to restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions, students are returning to their respective campuses for face-to-face classes. Along with the shift back to onsite classes is the re-implementation of the number coding scheme.
The announcement by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) comes after predicting an in-flux of vehicle volume in Metro Manila. They are expecting traffic volume along EDSA to increase to 436,000 daily once schools reopen. This is higher than the current average of 387,000 as well as the pre-pandemic level of 405,000.
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According to MMDA’s acting chairman, Carlo Dimayuga III, the re-implementation of rules will begin with a dry run before a full reinforcement in preparation for back to school.
“From August 15 to 17, we will start the dry run and will only remind motorists of the expanded number coding scheme. From August 18 onwards, the MMDA will start apprehending and will issue traffic violation tickets on ground and through our non-contact apprehension policy,” said Dimayuga.
All public elementary and high school students are slated to go back to school on August 22, 2022, the Department of Education’s (DepEd) scheduled first day of school.
Here is how the MMDA Number Coding Scheme in Metro Manila will work.
Implementation of the scheme
Last August 11, 2022, The Metro Manila Council, made up of all 17 Metro Manila mayors, approved the MMDA Resolution No. 22-14 Series of 2022, thereby reinstating the former MMDA Number Coding Scheme in Metro Manila, the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP).
Following the UVVRP, number coding will take effect on weekdays from 7 to 10 am in the morning and 5 to 8 pm in the evening. There will be no number coding on weekends and holidays.
During the aforementioned time slots, vehicles are not allowed to traverse Metro Manila if the last digit of their plate number corresponds to the following dates:
Vehicles with license plate ending in 1 and 2 are prohibited on Monday, 3 and 4 on Tuesday; 5 and 6 on Wednesday, 7 and 8 on Thursday, and 9 and 0 on Friday.
The following vehicles are exempted from UVVRP:
Public utility vehicles, transport network vehicle services, motorcycles, garbage trucks, fuel trucks, marked government vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, marked media vehicles, and motor vehicles carrying essential and/or perishable goods.
In the end, this is an MMDA initiative that aims to reduce the volume of vehicles during peak hours by 20%.
Be that as it may, this change of scenery is necessary for students who were subjected to staying within their house and lot for online class. Most students will tell you that they would much rather be on campus with their friends and teachers.
As things gradually shift back to normal, it is fascinating to see the journey endured by students and motorists from the onset of lockdown restrictions to the present time.
Return to normalcy
Days leading up to March 15, 2020, was the last time face-to-face classes were held and the MMDA Number Coding Scheme in Metro Manila was implemented.
But, upon the enactment of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) all over the Philippines, not were classes indefinitely cancelled and shifted to online learning, mobility was strictly limited.
During that time, busy roads like EDSA, C-5, and Commonwealth, to name a few, were ghost towns—completely empty as if it were a post-apocalyptic scene.
However, over time, as the restrictions loosened, more and more people began going out often. Some students were asked to return on-campus and vehicular traffic gradually increased.
As Metro Manila was placed under alert level 1, numerous establishments began to re-open or loosen their restrictions. Practically all of them were permitted to operate at 100% capacity.
In addition to this, most people argued that the traffic situation in NCR went back to normal as well. Employees went back to work, friends are going out with each other more often, hence, the roads were busy again. Considering this was many months before the first day of classes.
And now that basically the entire school system in the Philippines is returning to face-to-face classes, it is easy to predict that the traffic situation in Metro Manila will only get worse.
Admittedly, it is this aspect of going back to normal that people do not miss.
Unfortunately, horrible traffic is something NCR inhabitants have grown accustomed to. Due to the hassles and strains this specific problem causes to one’s plans and schedules, the next section proposes ways to work around Metro Manila’s age-long struggle with traffic.
Navigating through the new normal
In the gradual shift back to normal, now is the time to get reacquainted with old pre-pandemic habits, particularly when navigating through the Metro Manila traffic.
First, looking at the number coding scheme time slots, it was strictly implemented from 7 to 10 in the morning and 5 to 8 in the evening because traffic is at its heaviest during these times. Therefore, it will be less stressful and frustrating if you can avoid travelling at all in these times.
If you must go drive during these times, it is advisable to go within the first two hours of each time slot. Traffic is at its heaviest from 9 to 10 in the morning and 7 to 8 in the evening.
In addition to this, avoid major roads or small streets notorious for its traffic. It is crucial not to get caught in traffic during these times as the time spent stuck in traffic can be long, stressful, and inconvenient. A simple 15-minute drive can drag on to as long as an hour. This can put a strain of your schedule or simply, you are just spending too much time idle in your car.
Past traffic avoidance is traffic reduction. While it may seem that it does not make any difference, it helps to reduce as many cars from being deployed. The best way to employ this is through carpooling.
If you have friends, classmates, or workmates living within the vicinity of your home, contact them and organize a carpooling system then negotiate the deals with them (i.e., Gas Budget, Car to Drive, Driver, etc.). To illustrate, instead of four cars going out with one friend each, it will be more efficient and easier for Metro Manila traffic to deploy one car for all of them.
Lastly, the best convenience afforded is to live approximately a walking distance from your school or place of work. For Bria Homes, they make it a point to make living as convenient as possible by strategically constructing a house and lot near places of importance, like schools, malls, and city centers. How convenient would that be, just walking to school or work without having to worry about vehicular traffic at all? Check out Bria Homes’ affordable housing options that include house and lots and condominiums in the outskirt of Manila.
Back to school, coding, and normalcy
With Filipino students returning to face-to-face classes, an increase in the volume of traffic is expected to come along with it. Perhaps this is the final piece that marks the country’s transition to the new normal.
To reiterate, a number coding scheme is implemented during certain time slots every weekday and the last digit of your vehicle’s plate number will determine if you cannot bring your vehicle out during that time slot.
There are many ways to counter Manila traffic, like avoiding times of high traffic volume, carpooling, or buying a home that allows you avoid traffic altogether.
In the new normal, it is time to adjust to one’s lives and schedules. The best way to adapt is to develop new habits.
Written by Cholo Hermoso