Monday, April 21, 2014

NLEX Traffic, Holy Week 2014

I drove to the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan last week, Holy Thursday, April 17. My family came with me. We left Makati around 7am, no traffic congestion whatever in Edsa until Balintawak. Upon turning right to enter the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), traffic congestion started, just to pay the first toll gate (P45). This is about 1 km long from the toll gate. Crawling but at least moving. After the tollgate, it was fast again.

Then things went back to crawling speed just a few kilometers from that toll gate. Average speed about 15 kph for many kilometers until San Simon. Photo below from gmanews, morning of Holy Thursday.

I saw at least 3 incidents of car collision that morning in NLEX. Maybe some motorists were super-excited to reach their destination, or they were impatient with the crawling speed and when they had the chance to speed up, they became less careful.

I refueled at San Simon gas station, around 11am or more than 3 hours after I entered NLEX. My two girls had to go to the toilet too while my wife had to buy food as they got hungry. The gasoline boy told me that it was worse earlier, around 6am, traffic was almost at stand still. At least at 11am, vehicle movement was faster.

It was fast indeed after the gas station. Then another traffic build up about 2 kms. from Dau (the last) tollgate. After exiting the tollgate, most vehicles took the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), I took the Sta. Ines exit as I did not want to queue again to get a toll card, then queue again upon exit. At least at Manila North Road, no more queueing and there was no traffic congestion either.

Good Friday, we went to Bolinao, Pangasinan. Went back to Manila Saturday afternoon. NLEX was generally fast, until about 2-3 kms from the last tollgate. Photo below from Top Gear, Saturday around 5:30pm.

Another photo of the last/Bocaue toll gate, around 6:45pm, Manila bound, from Phil Star. Right lanes for vehicles with EC card, left and center lanes for cash payment. It could be worse later that night, or yesterday, Sunday afternoon until evening.

Some lessons and tips perhaps for Holy Week 2015 or other 4-days weekend:

1. If you cannot leave Manila around 3am or earlier of a Good Thursday, better leave at 9am; by then, traffic congestion is lesser.

2. During congested hours at the expressway, take the rightmost or slow/trucks lane, then join other motorists driving on the shoulder, prohibited on regular days but not well-implemented during the Holy week or other long weekends because of the huge volume of vehicles. It is faster at the shoulder.

3. Have enough fuel while still in Manila/QC, go to the toilet before entering the expressway, have some food and water/drinks inside the car. Gas stations in Bulacan area are so full, long queues at the gas station itself, at the toilets, at the food shops. You will lose more time if you stop there.

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