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Editorial | Get those cars out

Traffic problems have worsened both in Metro Manila and in other cities of the country. In Davao City, for instance, most streets become crowded not only during peak hours but even during work and school hours when most people are supposed to be inside offices and other buildings. Roads have widened and more are being built in an effort to decongest traffic, but there has been no marked improvement.

There’s an obvious reason: more private cars are on the streets and no one seems to think of ways to regulate their number. Here’s more. Having better roads have encouraged more and more people to travel more, negating the supposed advantages of improved arteries.

The government may have started a program to install an efficient mass transport, i.e., bus and railway networks. However, since this will take a long time to complete intermediate steps are needed.

First, government must impose measures that would discourage people from buying more cars, measures that can counter the lure of low down payments, easy car loans and cheaper gas. (Fuel prices though depend much on the peso’s performance versus the dollar.) These would include higher taxes on car purchase, the long overdue no garage-no sale policy, and imposing fees for the use of certain roads in urban areas.

This would be bad news for the automobile industry, and majority of car owners will surely resist such measures. But if there’s no other way to free up roads, reduce noise and air pollution, and minimize road crashes, it’s always worth the risk.

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