Reducing Traffic on EDSA – applying science and sound engineering principles

September 18th, 2016 Posted in EDSA traffic

Reducing Traffic on EDSA – applying science and sound engineering principles

The HPG and MMDA solution to reducing EDSA stand-still traffic is making things worse. Putting those concrete and plastic dividers along EDSA is creating too much skin friction similar to water flow inside a water hose and pipe. A parallel plate inside a pipe is known in engineering to create skin friction that prevents the faster flow of the liquid inside the pipe.

That is the same phenomena experienced now along the entire stretch of EDSA. The more barriers you put up, the more traffic you create.

Here are the many reasons why the concrete barriers are creating havoc along EDSA:

1) The concrete and plastic barriers create skin friction in the flow, similar to a parallel plate inside a pipe – ask any engineer familiar with fluid flow and hydro-dynamics.

2) It prevents the drivers from doing on the spot decisions to equalize flow between the inner and outer lanes. We have now situations where the curb side is very heavy as all the vehicles are trapped and the inner lane is fast moving but utterly under-utilized. The best indicator of maximum flow is a plug flow situation where all vehicles flow side by side towards the end.

3) A road to be efficient must be able to load and unload traffic at the shortest distance possible. Don’t allow a vehicle to linger any longer to exit, or a vehicle to travel great distance to enter and exit towards its final destination.

4) For any vehicle lingering a minute longer as it tries to enter and exit the road will just add to the accumulation of traffic, leading to a situation of a 24-hour traffic 7-days a week.

5) Instead of closing all intersections, open up all intersections and install intelligent and coordinated traffic lights that will pull traffic in the direction of the main flow. A well coordinated traffic control system will create a green wave just like in Espana Avenue from Mayon Welcome Rotonda towards UST and FEU. EDSA is one giant parking lot and too much time is wasted waiting for the green light in the next intersection. This could be put to greater use by installing new intersections so that EAST to WEST and WEST to EAST flow is also enhanced by having new intersections to augment EDSA crossing points like Congressional, North Avenue, East Avenue, Kamias Kamuning, Aurora, D. Tuazon, Bonnie Serrano, Ortigas, Crossing, Boni, J.P. Rizal, Buendia, Ayala, etc. But the crazy idea of having street-level MRT at some points have prevented maximum EAST-WEST and WEST-EAST traffic flows.

6) Having all intersections open avoids all vehicles converging on a single pivot point to go straight, left turn and U-turn, leading to greater traffic volume, unlike when many intersections are open which allows multiple entry, exit, and crossing points.

7) A yellow-box at the intersection is not good enough to prevent vehicles from clogging the intersection in a green light that does not move anymore. Instead, an additional white box is provided just like in UK (England) that prohibits thru traffic from occupying, aside from the yellow box. The white box is reserved for vehicles making a left turn from the perpendicular traffic to give them also a chance to move and not impeded by the thru straight traffic. This provides for an orderly and equitable sharing of the traffic time allotted in each signal time.

8) Traffic personnel should never go to manual as it will just compound the accumulation of traffic as they would now be operating un-coordinated and further contribute to traffic build-up. The traffic personnel should guide the drivers to follow the coordinated signal lights to maximize and optimize traffic flow.

9) The MMDA and DOTC should initiate traffic engineering and time and motion studies to determine the optimal timing of traffic signals. At the very least, each traffic signal must last 30 seconds for GO, LEFT, STOP, so that the over-all cycle time is not too long and to avoid immobile situation of a green light but no one is moving. The traffic light must be long enough to move at least half of the block to the other side of the block, or at least 100-200 meters so that traffic has moved significantly. This will also provide space for the perpendicular traffic to move into as half of the block is reserved for perpendicular traffic and the other half for the thru straight traffic.

10) When the time to complete a U-TURN is longer than awaiting a green light, it is better to have the intersection OPEN under the control of traffic light, and not resort to U-TURN slots that create 24-hour continues traffic as it creates 6-points of conflict: GO STRAIGHT, GO LEFT, GO RIGHT for the main road and the minor road.

11) Provide for U-turn opening 50-100 meters before an intersection so that U-TURNERS don’t impede the LEFT-TURNERS. In fact, best to have 2 U-TURN openings, one for even number vehicles and odd number vehicles to distribute the load evenly.

12) EDSA is used for NORTH to SOUTH and SOUTH to NORTH travel, and is full of under-utilized and less-than-half full buses. This situation is compounded by regulatory capture. The LTO and LFTRB which supervises bus and bus-fare determination have failed on their jobs. The bus fares must be determined in a project finance model so that a 50-passenger bus fare will break even only if 50% of the seats are occupied, and will attain 12% p.a. returns at 75% average capacity factor. Right now, the fares have been set a high level that even just having 10 passengers will allow the bus to break-even, leading to a situation of too many buses and colorums dispatched and operated.

13) With too much buses or jeeps on the road operating without optimal dispatch, it is now best for CONGRESS to pass a law that will buy-out all the privately owned and operated buses and jeeps, and create one or two public transport authority to maintain, dispatch and junk the old, polluting and in-efficient buses and jeeps. Replace them with newer, less-polluting and fuel-efficient EURO-4 buses, electric hybrid buses and CNG-powered buses. The old buses and jeeps are junked and scrapped to feed the electric furnace steel mills so there is no need to mine for iron ores anymore. The privately owned buses and jeeps will serve as equity by the displaced bus drivers and operators in the new public transport corporation who will now do optimal dispatch of buses to meet passenger demand at any given time.

14) Split the EDSA route into 3 routes, and thus reduce bus traffic along EDSA by 1/3 of its current volume: NORTH EDSA, CENTRAL EDSA and SOUTH EDSA and provide bus terminal and transfer routes in between. Then create a CENTRAL CIRCULAR ROUTE to intersect with the NORTH, CENTRAL AND SOUTH EDSA routes, as well as the radial ROUTES and the EAST-CENTRAL and WEST-CENTRAL routes. Then make the buses operate with a single fare system using tap RFID cards so that passenger traffic on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis are monitored in order to analyze passenger traffic at any point in time in a year in the country. This will guide our traffic managers plan our transport system as we await the improvements in our mass-transport system (LRT, MRT and now the planned UNDERGROUND RAIL system).

15) If the HPG, MMDA and DOTC needs experts, you may ask help from experts (traffic engineers). I can help if you need, just message me at Facebook. I can share with gov’t all my learnings and observations that I noted during my various travels around the world and during my studies abroad.

Marcial Ocampo

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