ADB study shows Metro Manila most congested city in Asia

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Metro Manila traffic congestion

Based on an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study, Metro Manila is the top congested city in Asia. 

The Director of ADB’s Macroeconomic Research Division, Abdul Abiad, said the Philippines’ capital is the most congested natural city. Natural cities pertain to those that have over 5 million population.

The ABD conducted a study that includes 278 cities, seeking to measure the congestion throughout the area. 

“Congestion arises when demand for travel exceeds the maximum capacity of the transportation network,” according to the ABD’s recent Asian Development Outlook publication.

Aside from Metro Manila, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Yangon City (Myanmar), Dhaka (Bangladesh), and Bengaluru (India) were also among the congested cities shown in the study. 

Through the use of nighttime lights from satellite images, grid population data, and trip routes from Google maps, ADB was able to detect identify a total of 1,459 natural cities. These cities are said to house 34.7% of the population on 2.3% of its land area. 

Meanwhile, the extent of congestion was measured based on the travelers’ lost time, vehicle operating costs, as well as the air pollution.

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Relative congestion of natural cities (Image source: Asian Development Bank)

“We calculated the ratio of driving duration during a peak hour to the off-peak hour between two locations in each direction and averaged across two opposite directions to obtain a congestion index for each location pair, which basically indicated the time needed to travel in peak-hour traffic relative to free-flowing traffic,” it explained.

In addition, the report cited that these cities need efficient transport systems and affordable housing along with effective and coordinated land and economic planning for them to remain as generators of  jobs and economic growth. 

“Asia’s cities have been important contributors to economic growth, job creation and innovation, but this isn’t a foregone conclusion for future decades. Addressing weak infrastructure, congestion, housing, and education and health care services is critical if cities — and their host countries — are to remain dynamic,” chief economist of ABD Yasuyuki Sawada said.

On the other hand, Abiad said building more public transport network is one solution to solve the metropolis’ congestion. 

“Build public transport … and make developments walkable, and have easy access to transport,” he said.

On a different note, Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, earlier said that the solution for the congestion in Metro Manila is not in her hands, rather it’s an “administration issue” that needs the power of President Rodrigo Duterte.

She also suggested that the President has the authority to tap Cabinet members, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to draft the traffic masterplan and solve the traffic condition. 

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