Traffic > Decree

Guys, you may have misunderstood MMDA’s modified number-coding scheme

Some motorists seem to complain over a simple misconception

As we transition to GCQ, road traffic will steadily go back to normal. We have to control this. PHOTO BY ALDARINHO

If you’ve been reading the news, you know that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is set to implement the so-called “modified number-coding scheme” come June 1st, when the whole of the National Capital Region is expected to transition to GCQ (or general community quarantine). According to MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia, the modification to the rule has been approved by the Metro Manila Council, and he explains it like this:

Vehicles carrying more than one passenger, depending on the guidelines of the IATF-EID on allowed passengers per type of vehicles, will be exempted from the existing number-coding scheme. We want the motorists to maximize the use of private vehicles on the road.

When this first came to light yesterday, countless netizens howled in protest. Reading their comments, one can see that the rants are mostly divided into two issues.

The first is the objection to Garcia’s earlier pronouncement that medical frontliners would not be given exemption from the modified number-coding scheme, which the agency has already addressed. “The MMDA understands the plight of the medical frontliners, so we want to assist them during this challenging time,” Garcia clarifies. “We hope that by exempting them from the modified number-coding scheme, we are helping to provide ease and convenience to their daily transport.”

That’s good.

The second issue, it seems, comes from a small misunderstanding. Many people seem to think that the driver-plus-one-passenger rule will be enforced throughout the week. One of the most common comments we’ve read goes like this: “I live and go to work alone. How am I going to be able to use my car?” Or: “That’s no problem when I drive my wife to her office. But how am I going to drive back when I’m already traveling solo?”

Many people seem to think that the driver-plus-one-passenger rule will be enforced throughout the week

Where to begin?

First, the modified number-coding scheme will only be in effect on your vehicle’s coding day. Do not confuse it with the controversial High-Occupancy Vehicle rule from 2018 (with which MMDA wanted to ban single-passenger cars during rush hour).

Second, the modified number-coding scheme is actually a better, more lenient version of the regular coding rule. If MMDA simply reinstated the number-coding scheme without any modification, you wouldn’t be able to use your car on its coding day, period—whether you’re alone or you have a passenger. With the modification, you will now be able to do so, provided you have at least one person with you in the vehicle.

Now, should number-coding be brought back as soon as we move to GCQ? Well, the traffic authorities really don’t have much choice as private vehicles are bound to clog our roads again. Of course, one might argue that this rule isn’t really effective or even that it favors the affluent among us, but that’s a debate that deserves its own piece.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.