BAGUIO Mayor Benjamin Magalong is appealing to the local populace of Baguio City to have patience as heavy traffic is expected to take the city over the weekend with the expected influx of tourists into the city.
According to City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo, the city is expecting even more tourists than the recent peaks of 150,000 in Baguio.
“The definite number will be 110,000. It will increase by 50 percent more so it can be 150 to 200,000 per month,” said Mapalo.
Magalong has asked the populace to leave their private vehicles at home and take public transport or walk where possible to not compound the expected traffic concerns.
Magalong also said that there are “concrete plans” to manage the traffic woes of the city starting next year with smart, strategic plans that have been worked on over the past year and a half.
The supposed plans have been stalled by a temporary restraining order on non-contact apprehensions, which is one of five different main components of the smart mobility plan.
“We are very enthusiastic. Hopefully it will be expedited, the hearings at the Supreme Court regarding non-contact apprehensions,” Magalong said.
He said the city’s Traffic and Transportation Management Working Committee regularly finetunes the city’s traffic schemes to address the weekend gridlocks, but these measures can only provide stop gap solutions.
“The only way we can address our traffic problem and the issue of local irritability is by implementing strategic measures like the smart mobility and transportation system that we are pursuing, coupled with other infrastructures that we need to put up,” the mayor said in a press briefing on December 5.
He said the city hopes to start implementing next year the smart mobility and transportation system which is the same traffic system being used in Singapore.
“We have been working on it for the past one-and-a- half years and we are seeing a breakthrough. However, one problem is that the no contact apprehension, which is one of the key features of the program, is now the subject of a TRO (temporary restraining order). We hope that this will be resolved as soon as possible,” the mayor said.
He said the smart mobility project has five components – artificial intelligence-managed traffic, parking management, road users’ fee, public transport management and the law enforcement which incorporates the no contact apprehension aspect.
“This is a joint venture between the city government and one of our partners is the same company which designed and implemented the scheme in Singapore so we are enthusiastic about this so we are really hoping that the case will be resolved as soon as possible to get the project on the ground,” the mayor said.
He said other projects being pursued is the intermodal transport terminal to be built on a five-hectare area adopting the same concept as the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) terminal and tying it up with the utilization of electric vehicles.
The mayor announced a breakthrough in the ongoing testing of e-vehicles, saying one vehicle was able to pass after a three-week road test. He said the city will continue to invite other companies to test their vehicle capability in negotiating the city’s roads.
Another project in the pipeline is the elevated monorail project which took three years to work out and which is now in the evaluation phase.
He said another venture, the cable car project is now being worked out in collaboration with the BLISTT Development Authority to benefit not only Baguio but also the nearby municipalities of Benguet province. – with reports from Aileen P. Refuerzo