The MMDA should learn from Cebu’s effective traffic light timing system

Motorists, including motorcycle riders, were in an uproar over the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) announcement that they will be ditching the countdown timers in traffic lights in favor of a more-advanced Adaptive Responsive Traffic Signal System (ARTSS).

The new system, according to the MMDA uses sensors to determine when will the lights go green, yellow, or red; but is not compatible with the current countdown timers according to the agency.

For motorists, the absence of a countdown timer on MMDA’s traffic lights meant that they cannot adjust their pace accordingly and a lot of times, can be a huge issue especially when one is caught in the middle of an intersection and that’s an instant traffic violation, no thanks to the NCAP system, which the LTO wants to be suspended until issues are fixed by the LGUs that implement them.

However, they beg to differ in Cebu City, there’s no issue since they’ve elected to use BOTH countdown timers and ARTSS and made the system work together in harmony for the benefit of all motorists.

Along the stretch of Gen. Maxilom Ave., the government of Cebu City and the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) already has operational traffic lights with adaptive timers and visual timers. The system fully integrates the adaptive traffic light, and the detection system for oncoming vehicles, and still retains the countdown timer for motorists to see.

What's good or rather better with this type of approach is that if the system senses that there are no more vehicles coming from a direction of travel that has been shown the green light, it will adjust accordingly. The system will flash the timers to alert all traffic, and then shorten the green light to 5 seconds. This way, the system allocates more “go time” to the direction that can make use of it, especially when there is more vehicle volume coming from that certain direction.

With this “combined system”, motorists will still have a visual cue to adjust their pace and at the same time will give more go time to the traffic direction that needs it most, which in a way, would act like a buhos for those who are familiar with it.

“With regards to the new system, so far it has drastically improved the flow of traffic after we made adjustments on the time phasing of the traffic lights,” said Paul Gotiong, CCTO Executive Director.

The MMDA, on the other hand, may want to consult and coordinate with CCTO and use the latter’s best practices here in Metro Manila to help improve our traffic situation.

The best part is the system is actually made in the Philippines by Triune Electronic Systems.