Column – Verhungern – The big seven


By Angel Castillo

IN this week’s episode, we do a little call-back to the last column where we discussed in passing the burgeoning population and needs of Baguio, stacked against its admittedly not burgeoning capacity to carry. We came to a conclusion there in a roundabout way that the struggle, as much as we would not like it to be, is more or less out of the hands of the local people. 

We came to the conclusion there that the government has to take the lead, and that what we can do is direct our discomfort and outrage to the appropriate channels and voice our concerns. And we locals are definitely concerned about the traffic situation of the city. We are concerned about other things too, but for the purposes of this piece, we zero in on traffic.

One among the number of proposed approaches to this problem that clogs up the city’s roadways is the put-up of even more parking spaces in the city proper. This is not a new idea – it has been floating around for a while,

This week, the city announced that there are seven planned places for high-impact parking buildings, some in the central business district, and all of which are planned to be funded either using city funds or public-private partnership.

I saw a comment from a friend on this, calling it an expensive band-aid. Not the best look, but let us divine.

Or at least I would like to, except for the fact that I do not have nearly any expertise that would allow me to dissect the value and impact of having that much more parking space. So we shall, in our limited capacities, question.

Would the big seven be impactful enough to put a dent in the city’s traffic woes? Speaking as someone with exactly the level of knowledge of this matter as the average layperson resident, would it not have the unintended effect of allowing more cars to ply the roads as there is more assurance of space to park?

Would not the solution to an overload of cars in the city’s roadways be Occam’s Razor answer of “reduce the cars on the road”?

Now, this is all just taking the seven parking spaces in isolation. Naturally, the move is supposed to be conducted in tandem with other moves to address traffic. Maybe in full context, the move makes more sense.

To my limited mind, the need seems to be less “provide space for cars” as we are physically not a large city, and more “make it so that there is no need for extra cars.” This means strengthening the public transport system in terms of coverage. There will always be the irreducible minimum of private vehicles, naturally, and it won’t be cheap, but investment into public transport should pay dividends.

And again, it isn’t as if the government doesn’t know this. They are considering some more public transport-related solutions such as Magalong’s ambitious cable car and monorail projects, which is a different beast entirely, but they are attempts at curbing the traffic problem.

It does appear that the current administration under Magalong will pursue this parking project, this big seven. So it falls to us residents and locals to remind the government through our various avenues to look into solutions beyond the provision of parking space. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. 

And squeak we will

(Angel Castillo writes the bi-weekly column Verhungern as well as this informational bit in third person. For responses or thoughts, email the dedicated email address.)

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