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From Where We Sit

Easing the traffic in 10 moves...with a little help from you

Jun Cuaresma

School opening last week again highlighted the terrible traffic in Metro Manila, said to be among the worst in the world. It took me during the Wednesday rush hour, one hour and forty-five minutes for the three-kilometer distance to my business meeting. While I have emotionally accepted my fate of being stuck in Manila, let me share you some of my thoughts in a listicle, on how we can ease the traffic in our own little ways:

1. Let your fingers do the paying. Many of us still drive and go to payment centers and, even worse, the offices of utility companies to pay utility bills. All these companies now accept payment online or through credit cards, or deduction from our bank account. This could be done anytime and from anywhere if you have Internet access and your smart phone or computer. No travel, no traffic and no long queue.

2. Make it a habit to do banking through the web or ATM. You can deposit, withdraw and pay loans through the web from anywhere, anytime of the day. If you are not comfortable with using the web, use ATM. With the continuing proliferation of ATMs, there could be one near your place.

3. Let the motorcycle do the cooking. Taking orders for food by phone and delivering it to the customer—a service that fast-food venders introduced—has now been adopted by others, including some fine dining restaurants. Why not try it? You can avoid getting stuck in traffic jam and save the time for enjoying more quality time with your family.

4. Use school bus or a service to send your kids to school. It will help your kid to make more friends and develop people relationship skills. And, it will also help unclog the traffic in the campuses.

5. Share a driver. The so-called UV Express vehicles have become ubiquitous. Why not use them for your journey instead of your car? They may not be “roomy” always, as they operate on full passenger capacity, but you can surely sit back and relax. This also means fewer vehicles on the road.

6. Share a ride, aka carpooling. This means using a single car for friends or neighbors. The more the merrier. This is not yet popular in Metro Manila, but if we will give it a chance we can certainly reduce the traffic congestion in the metropolis.

7. Early birds catch the worms. If it’s unavoidable that you really have to use your car to go to office, make it a habit to drive ahead of the others. Do not go with the crowd. Be on the road an hour or so before the “rush hours”. This way you will not only help ease the traffic but you can also rest and be well-prepared emotionally and physically to tackle your regular office chores.

8. Go back to basics. Plan your trip before you hit the road. Subscribe to road orderliness, please. Let us not outsmart each other on the road. I hate road “counter flowers” and lane “cutters”. There may not be too many drivers who behave this way, but the traffic problem that they create is always horrible—not to mention accidents. Let us save life, time and gas. Speaking of planning your trip, navigation “apps” like Google Map and Waze are now available, which you can download and use for free. They can show directions and advice you about real-time traffic conditions, road accidents ahead and traffic enforcers’ location.

9. Conduct business meeting through video/telephone conferencing. Driving from Makati to Ortigas Centre or Bonifacio Global Center for, maybe, an hour-long business meeting can claim half of your day considering travel time. Conducting business meetings through video/telephone conferencing is an alternative. The time you will need to spend in traffic jam can be spared for more productive and profitable office work.

10. Arrange with your employer for you to “work from home.” This may sound initially unacceptable to your employer, but now that computers and the Internet are part of the working tools the arrangement can work well for both parties. You save gas and, at the same time, you don’t contribute to traffic congestion.

Of course, we have heard from the new government that solving the Metro Manila’s ever-worsening traffic problem is a priority. The government may build more roads and introduce a better mass transport system. Still, let us do our part.

By the way, you can now also do your shopping through the web and avoid driving to shop. Finally, if you believe you can open roads within your subdivision or village for public use to help traffic flow, please discuss within your community to allow it. Consider it as a collective patriotic act. Please go for it!

Jun Cuaresma is the Managing Partner & COO, and Audit & Assurance Division Head of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firm in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 700 staff members.

As published in The Manila Times, dated 6 July 2016