THEY came before Christmas, clogging the city streets even until midnight. By the afternoon of the 24th, the city streets suddenly opened as the battalion of cars suddenly went home for Christmas.
It turned out to be a dry run.
More local tourists came on the 26th and it seems like there’s no letting up of the carmaggedon that came with them.
Most came for the cold weather after the temperature dipped to 12.0 Centigrade on Christmas Eve. It has since heated up a bit to 12.5 at 5 AM on December 27 and 12.6 on the 28th.
But it didn’t deter the tourists who clogged the lanes like a hypertensive patient eating only lechon during the Holidays.
After failing to persuade tourists to leave their cars and take public transportation instead, now it’s time to walk.
City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Pena acknowledged that gridlock has been evident in the past weeks in the city, particularly along roads leading to tourist sites.
“We cannot prevent people from coming to Baguio especially since they wanted to experience the colder weather, what we do now is traffic management,” the city administrator said.
He added that the traffic problem in Baguio can only be addressed once the city government implements its mobility program.
“Our mobility program which we are preparing with our technical team may be implemented within a year or a year and a half, to address the traffic problem in Baguio which includes offsite parking facilities; as well as loading and unloading sites for public utility vehicles among others,” he said.
In the meantime, he encourages people to park their vehicles at home or in accommodation establishments and take public transportation when roaming around the city.
“We have a walkable city and with cool weather, we should enjoy walking more,” Dela Pena said.
Earlier, Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked residents to “bite the tourist bullet” and walk instead. “Admittedly, we need these tourists for our city’s economic growth since the city has suffered shortfalls in its revenue collections in the past years due to the ongoing pandemic,” he said.
The mayor pointed out that revenues generated by the local tourism sector will help bolster the city government’s coffers which would be used to fund social and other services that would benefit the public.
Although he realizes the rise in the public’s ‘irritability issues’ when it comes to the city’s traffic woes, the mayor emphasized the need for patience at this time and expressed confidence that this would be lessened in the long run.
The mayor assured that concrete measures are in the pipeline that will be implemented next year to minimize traffic jams experienced especially in major thoroughfares of the city. – with reports from PIO