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Baguio officials to tourists: Pls leave your cars at home on weekends

by Aldwin Quitasol

Recently updated on February 10, 2023 04:52 pm

BAGUIO CITY — The air is getting cooler here in the City of Pines as the Christmas season nears.

With the easing of health protocols in September, more local and foreign tourists are flooding the city every weekend. Traveling from Manila only takes three hours, compared to five hours of travel around five years ago.

Thus, thousands of tourists come to Baguio in private vehicles. And on weekends, the streets turn into parking lots as thousands of cars are stuck in monstrous traffic jams.

Weekend traffic woes

According to the Baguio City Traffic and Transportation Division of the City Engineering Office, around 25,000 to 40,000 private and public utility vehicles ply the streets of the city on weekdays. Come the weekend, the number of cars grows to approximately 50,000 to 60,000.

Baguio City, designed during the American period in the early 1900s, could not accommodate this sheer volume of vehicles.

The City Engineering Office claims there are roads in the city that are three-meter wide and can accommodate more than a thousand motor vehicles running at a speed of 40-60 kilometers per hour.

However, narrow roads lead to the city’s tourist spots, where the bottleneck happens.

‘Please take bus to Baguio’

The Baguio Tourism Office earlier appealed to the tourists and visitors planning to come to the city to leave their vehicles and travel to Baguio using public transport instead.

Karla Miranda, a tourist from Manila, said she also noticed the heavy traffic in the city.

“Something should be done to solve this traffic mess,” Miranda said.

When asked if she agreed with the proposal to take a bus to Baguio, she replied, “It’s ok. Maybe we need to get used to it. Right now, my family and my relatives hired one van so we can move around the city.”

Taxi drivers who are supposed to welcome the influx of tourists to Baguio say their business suffers due to the weekend monster traffic.

Billy Dagdag, a taxi driver and a resident of Baguio, said the traffic congestion forces them to wait hours on the roads to ferry a passenger or a load of passengers.

Traffic jams, he said, reduce their income because it also lowers the number of trips that they have to make. The more trips they have, the higher their income because taxi fares start from a baseline flag-down rate.

“Mas makakatulong sa min kung wag na magdala ng sasakyan ang mga turista dito sa Baguio,” Dagdag said.

Relax and enjoy, but plan ahead

For most Baguio residents, the influx of tourists boosts their businesses as they have to fully recover from the economic setbacks caused by the lockdowns and community quarantines.

So while city officials are still thinking of solutions to manage the traffic crisis, tourists are advised to plan ahead before heading to Baguio City especially during weekends.

And when you are stuck at traffic, just take a deep breath from the cooler air of Baguio and smell the pines. If you are fit, it may also be good to just take a walk.



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