Christmas, the worst time for traffic in the Philippines, has long passed, but even with the start of a new year, traffic in Fort Bonifacio is still painfully congested at peak hours. With more buildings to be built and some to complete soon (e.g. Grand Hyatt Hotel and Residences, Park West, in North Bonifacio, The Finance Center and new PSE building in central Bonifacio), gridlocks can be expected to happen more often, unless something is done soon.
Currently, the sources of vehicular traffic in BGC appears to be:
Passing Through Traffic - not stopping in BGC (40 to 50%)
Inbound Traffic - from an outside place with BGC as a destination (25 to 30%)
Outbound Traffic - from BGC to an outside destination (20 to 25%)
Internal Traffic - from one place in BGC to another place in BGC (10 to 15%)
Transit Traffic - from outside place to BGC for the purpose of connecting to another transport mode to go to an outside destination. (5 to 10%)
These numbers are only our guesstimates. The authorities managing Bonifacio Global City and Metro Manila probably have done some survey, but we are not privileged to them. Hopefully, they have some reliable data that they are using for proper planning of the solutions.
It is our observation that the most congested streets during peak hours are:
- the whole of 32nd Street (a thoroughfare between C5 and EDSA),
- 5th Avenue,
- 11th Avenue between 32nd Street and McKinley Parkway
- McKinley Parkway between McKinley Road and 32nd Street (another thoroughfare between C5 and EDSA)
- 26th Street
Many of these congested roads are caused by passing through traffic. Due to the lack of infrastructure investment in the last decades to move people around Metro Manila, the main arterial roads of C5 and EDSA are unable to cope with the traffic going from residential areas to places of work, and roads within BGC built for internal and visiting traffic end up being used for passing through. This source of traffic growth is affected mostly by factors outside of Fort Bonifacio and is unlikely to subside anytime soon, in view of the slow progress of easing traffic in the rest of Metro Manila.
Within the business district of the Fort, Bonifacio Global City is still only about 60% developed, although it looks like there is no more vacant land. Since there are many office buildings, there is a fair amount of traffic coming into BGC each day, as evidenced by the high demand for parking spaces within BGC. Long lines can be seen in parking lots located near Net Plaza (31st West) and Rizal Drive (Crescent North and Crescent South). You can find the parking lots in our parking map which shows the fees and number of slots for each.
In the coming three years, quite a few new buildings will be completed and occupied. Several are located along 32nd Street. More are under construction in North Bonifacio, near Uptown Mall, and what used to be branded as Veritown. Internal traffic growth from development within BGC, particularly inbound traffic, is sure to continue.
What are the Possible Solutions?
The most efficient solution is of course to reduce the need for traveling by car. The space occupied by each person in a car on the road is high compared to alternatives such as a mass transit system. While internal traffic can be reduced by promoting walking and cycling since the distance involved is short, tackling inbound and outbound, as well as passing through traffic would require more resources.
Reducing passing through traffic would require a lot of work by the authorities outside Fort Bonifacio so that more direct routes are available to motorists to reach their destination without going through the Fort, and BGC in particular. A mass transit system with wide coverage is, of course, the best solution. Secondary would be more roads. For example, if more roads that connect EDSA and C5 are built, then 32nd Street and McKinley Parkway can be utilized more by inbound and outbound traffic.
If more parking facilities are made available at the edge of BGC, supported by easy pedestrian access to the center of BGC, inbound traffic can be confined to the edges, and reduce the traffic within BGC.
The authorities can also provide additional access to places that have high traffic to and from BGC. A car-hailing service once introduced a shuttle (UberHop) between BGC and Makati, and BGC and Ortigas. The service is not very successful for many reasons, but it demonstrates a need for moving people between these locations.
When we look at a possible solution, we must also check for unintended consequences. If a solution solves one bottleneck by creating another, it would not be a good solution. Also, when the road capacity is increased on one road, it may simply attract traffic from alternative routes, thus travel time may not improve much.
Projects under planning
The authorities have been working on solutions to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, and some of them affect Fort Bonifacio.
If the construction of the Sta. Monica–Lawton Bridge that will connect BGC to the Ortigas CBD via 8th Avenue across the Pasig River by DPWH does push through, then we probably can go to Ortigas from here, Lawton Avenue coming from 8th Avenue
In Base Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)'s letter to Boo Chanco of PhilStar, published on December 1, 2017, it referred to several measures being implemented by the authorities to improve the traffic situation in Fort Bonifacio, and especially in Bonifacio Global City.
In that letter, these infrastructure projects were mentioned:
(i) bus system connecting Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Makati, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). This will include a direct tunnel connection to the Makati Central Business District (CBD) as well as a dedicated connection to NAIA.
(ii) The widening of Lawton Avenue from the current four to six lanes by DPWH.
(iii) The building of a new parallel six-lane road to Lawton Avenue that will run from Mckinley West (formerly JUSMAG) to Pasong Tamo Extension.
(iv) The construction of a new elevated ramp from C5 (South Luna Ramp) into BGC via McKinley Parkway by DPWH.
(v) construction of the Sta. Monica–Lawton Bridge that will connect BGC to the Ortigas CBD via 8th Avenue across the Pasig River by DPWH
(vi) construction of an elevated connection along Lawton Avenue that will connect the Skyway and NAIA-X to BGC by DPWH