That’s the first thing you’ll hear when you mention Manila to any Filipino, and visitors to the Philippines capital city will definitely be shocked, awed, and horribly inconvenienced during their stay.
In fact, Manila is itself a snake pit of a city, as one of the craziest, most chaotic, disheveled, and most crowded cities on earth. In fact, Manila is so big (probably close to 25 million people in the larger metro area), that they’ve broken it up into about ten smaller cities, such as Quezon City.
Check this out – Manila is home to roughly 12 percent of the entire population of the Philippines but with only 638 square kilometers, contains only 0.21 percent of the nation’s land mass!In fact, Manila’s population density of 42,857 people per square kilometer makes it one of the three most densely populated cities in the world!
While the crowds, pollution, and craziness may be remarkable (for the wrong reasons), the traffic is what really stands out. It can literally take you an hour just to drive a few kilometers, and in Manila, a long distance relationship is when you live in the next neighborhood over.
How can we put it in perspective? Here are a few crazy facts about traffic in Manila:
According to numerous studies, traffic in Metro Manila is easiest at 4am on Mondays.
The least crashes and accidents occur on Sundays, but the highest number of injuries and roadway fatalities is on Fridays.
When traffic snarls up for Manila commuters, the average speed of travel along highways and roads is 3 kilometers per hour!
Back in 2013, the Philippines Land Transportation Office (LTO) estimated that there were a total of 2,101,148 vehicles registered in Manila, which would be about 27 percent of the country’s 7.6 million registered vehicles.
By 2015, the number of cars, trucks, and motorcycles in Manila jumped to 2.5 million, and we’re expecting it’s nearly 3.5 million now!
While there are plenty of big highways in Manila (which often only have two lanes), it’s an unfathomable labyrinth of side streets, alleys, and pass-throughs. In fact, Manila has 1,032 kilometers of roads, which makes up about 3.5 percent of the roads in the entire country.
A 2011 study by Rappler found that heavy traffic in Manila cost the country about 137 billion Pesos that year – or about 2.74 billion dollars USD.
Just getting to work can take two, three, or even four hours every day – each way. Public transportation consists of old, smokey, non-airconditioned buses but jeepneys – old U.S. army jeeps elongated to squeeze in more passengers – are more prevalent.
For common and poor Manila residents, about 20 percent of their monthly income is spent just on transportation, higher than any other budget item except perhaps rent.
85 percent of Manila’s choking air pollution comes from its vehicles.
To try and ease the incredible surge of traffic, they restrict a number of vehicles from driving on certain days based on their license plate numbers. It still doesn’t ease the problem!
Unfortunately, the roadway madness is exacerbated by the fact that most Filipino drivers don’t really adhere to any traffic rules, instead going through red lights, cutting others off, traveling on the wrong side of the road, and inching forward into every single bit of free space they can find on the roads.
Some people feel it’s just much easier to walk the few kilometers between neighborhoods instead of braving the traffic!