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DLSL Cited for Traffic. Again.

Yesterday, there was an item in the regional news about a traffic summit called by local government to solve the traffic problem that intermittently occurs on that stretch of road in front of De La Salle Lipa.

The news report, ditto the local officials who convened the summit, were careful to state that this was a meeting of owners of private establishments, with whom local government hoped to work with to find a viable solution to the problem.

However, the news item was also so crafted that it placed, for all intents and purposes, the blame on DLSL for the said traffic problem. The reporter even interviewed students of the school and drew attention to the overpass that pedestrians generally refuse to use.

This morning, I was caught in traffic on the way to the McDonald’s store at Mataas-na-Lupâ. The slow-down of vehicles started almost in front of Masagana Subdivision in Tambô and went all the way to the rotunda in front of McDonald’s. That relatively short stretch of road took all of 25 minutes to traverse.

While in front of DLSL, I was careful to observe anything on the road that could have been causing the bumper-to-bumper traffic. This was between 9:30 and 10 o’clock in the morning; and except for a handful of students dutifully crossing at the pedestrian lane in front of the 711 convenience store, there was nothing that the school or its students could be blamed for in relation to the traffic that had built up.

In fact, the rotunda was the choke point.

This is not to absolve the school completely of any culpability. In fact, other times I have seen students, parents, guardians and even employees cross the road where they pleased, totally unmindful of traffic laws and ordinances.

However, the traffic situation I mentioned this morning when most associated with the school were already on campus tells all of us that it is a tad unfair to single out the school for blame; albeit, to be fair, everyone who attends these summits politely avoids saying anything that can be construed as doing so.

Truth be told, these traffic meetings were being convened as far back as when Br. Rafael Donato, who has been deceased for a decade, was still president of DLSL. One would think that, after all these years, if at all there was a viable solution, one would have been found long ago.

In fact, the late Br. Rafael never used to accept that the school was in any way responsible for the traffic. “I was here in 1969,” he would defiantly point out, “and there was no traffic.” Of course, the statement was an oversimplification. Nonetheless, there was more than just defiance in the statement.

Schools, after all, do not cause traffic. Vehicles do.

Granted that there are indeed times of each school day when the road build-up is caused by vehicles entering and leaving the premises of the school. This is a phenomenon that is observable in front of schools everywhere in the country; more so in institutions where the parents of the students as well as employees of the school can afford to own private vehicles.

So if at all there is a solution to the traffic not only in front of DLSL but elsewhere in the city, it is really one that government, and not just at the local level, can provide.

The root of the problem is in population growth, and its effects on a city are what we pay urban planners with our taxes to anticipate and plan for. This was the point that the late Br. Rafael was trying to make with his defiant statement.

Traffic jams are a complex problem that can only be solved with the proper infrastructures such as wider roads, overpasses and flyovers and mass transit systems. All these have to be complemented by legislation and law enforcement.

Meanwhile, it serves no purpose to continue heaping the blame on DLSL. In the old days, I used to often hear jeepney drivers and passengers utter invectives at the school because of the traffic. These days, few people do. This is easy to explain.

Before you get to DLSL, often you have to suffer even more horrendous traffic at the Tambô exits of the STAR Tollway. Thus, people now know that DLSL is just one of many points where traffic builds up. Sometimes, like this morning, the school has nothing whatsoever to do with it.