LATE MALL OPENING. MMDA general manager Arturo Garcia (middle of center table), other government officials, and representatives from malls and utility companies in Metro Manila discuss traffic measures to address the incoming surge of vehicles in the capital during the holiday season in a meeting at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City on Oct. 22. Among other agreements, the MMDA and mall owners agreed to reschedule their opening hours to 11 a.m. to ease the morning rush hours. (Photo by Raymond Carl Dela Cruz)

MANILA—The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday agreed with Metro Manila malls to reschedule their opening hours to ease the volume of traffic and lower the number of commuters during morning rush hours of the holiday season.

In a briefing, MMDA general manager Arturo Garcia said mall owners have agreed to delay their opening not earlier than 11 a.m. during weekdays while closing hours will not be between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. beginning on Nov. 11 this year to Jan. 10, 2020.

He added that weekend mall schedules remain at the discretion of their owners.

Dati po kasi, 10 a.m. nagbubukas ang mall (In the past, malls open at 10 a.m.). We're talking about more or less mga (about) 100 malls 'yan eh (there) in Metro Manila,” Garcia said.

Based on rough estimates of the MMDA and mall owners, each mall employs 2,000 to 3,000 employees—totaling to about 200,000 to 300,000 within Metro Manila alone.

Yung 200,000 na ‘yan (That 200,000), we're not talking about the clients pa (yet), the customers,” Garcia said.

“Meaning yung 8 to 9 a.m. po mababawasan ng more or less 200,000 na tao. Ito po yung nagbu-bus, nage-LRT, MRT, nagji-jeep, motorsiklo, at yung iba may kotse (This means the 8 to 9 a.m. traffic will be lessened by more or less 200,000 people. These people are the ones using buses, the LRT, MRT, motorcycles, and cars),” Garcia added.

He said Edsa has an estimated capacity of 4,800 vehicles at 25 to 30 kilometers per hour (km/h)—a far cry from the current actual capacity of 7,000 vehicles which causes severe traffic slowdown.

Kaya kung makakabawas tayo ng more or less 3,000 cars--yung oras ng 8 to 9 a.m., 9 to 10 a.m.--malaking tulong po yan sa flow ng traffic natin (That’s why if we can reduce this by more or less 3,000 cars—in the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.—this will be a boon to the flow of traffic),” Garcia said.

Delivery schedules for malls remain between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. with exceptions for perishable goods, he said.

Aside from the adjustment of mall schedules, mall owners have also agreed not to hold sales or reduced pricing during weekdays within the said period.

Garcia added that a mall made an early announcement for a sale on Nov. 15 which will be given an exception.

To further help the MMDA in addressing vehicular congestion, SM Megamall and Trinoma have agreed to strict traffic enforcement in their areas of jurisdiction and loading bays which will include the refusal of entry to public utility vehicles (PUV) once loading bays are full to avoid these vehicles affecting Edsa traffic.

Other measures mall owners agreed to include helping the MMDA against “colorum” PUVs through the refusal of entry to their passenger loading areas and additional security staff in parking areas to expedite vehicular security measures. (PNA)