By Arjay L. Balinbin, January 19, 2020; Business World

The government is evaluating at technical working group (TWG) level a proposal for a peak hours congestion pricing system in key parts of Metro Manila, a Transportation department official said.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it submitted its proposal to impose congestion charges in Metro Manila’s business districts.

“It was submitted to NEDA (the National Economic Development Authority) for their initial evaluation, and it is with a NEDA technical working group. We are doing this in partnership with the Singapore government,” Transportation Undersecretary Mark Richmund M. de Leon told in BusinessWorld in an interview on Jan. 7.

He said the government of Singapore is providing both the concept and the technology to implement the congestion-pricing scheme.

“Kung ma-approve na ’yun sa NEDA, tuloy-tuloy na ’yung proyekto (Once NEDA approves it, the project will go ahead),” he said, referring to the proposal which was submitted to the agency in “November or December.”

He said the proposal covers congestion charges in business districts during peak hours.

“The objective of the proposal is to remove the congestion in central business areas (CBAs), so you pay. If you want to use your car during peak hours, you pay a certain amount,” Mr. De leon said.

He noted that there is an oversupply of cars on Metro Manila’s roads. “Regardless of how good our bus system is, there’s terrible traffic along EDSA, vehicles are not moving, so what we need is to reduce cars,” he added.

According to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), auto sales in 2019 totaled 369,941 vehicles, up 3.5%.

Current legislation aimed at discouraging the proliferation of automobiles include a proposed Proof of Parking Space Act, which would bar auto purchases if the buyer does not own a place to park. Car owners without parking sports or garages typically park on the street, hampering traffic flow.

A September study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) found Metro Manila to be the “most congested” city in developing Asia.

The bank said rapid growth in car ownership and the demand for road capacity that it generates has given rise to congestion in many Philippine cities.