The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is reportedly considering bringing back the number coding scheme in the National Capital Region (NCR). The news comes as the holiday season creeps ever closer for one of the world's most Christmas-crazed countries.
COVID-19 cases have also continued to drop in the metro, prompting an influx of motorists crowding the once-empty roads. Expressways like the Skyway Stage 3 now serve as crucial pieces of infrastructure to help alleviate traffic. That might not be enough, however.
In a televised interview, MMDA Director Noemi Recio spoke of the agency's anticipated vehicle volume. Recto stated that pre-pandemic figures were at around 405,000 vehicles per day. The MMDA now expects vehicle volume to reach or surpass that figure as we approach the Christmas season.
While there is no final decision yet, Recto gave three scenarios for the proposed number coding scheme in Metro Manila. The first is implementation during peak morning hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The second is from afternoon to evening peak hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The third option is implementing the coding scheme for the whole day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We advise motorists to prepare for the inevitable return of the number coding scheme. It will likely be the logical next step as we go headfirst into the New Normal. Under the current Alert Level 2 designation, public transportation services have been allotted a 70 percent operating capacity. Curfew hours have also been lifted in Metro Manila, so it's clear that not much is preventing our roads from going back to pre-pandemic traffic levels.
Whatever the MMDA proposes, it will be subject to approval by the mayors of Metro Manila. Once the local government heads deem the number coding scheme necessary again, it could return at any time, whether we like it or not.