This year’s number of registered new cars on the road could surpass last year’s numbers, based on data released by Bureau of Motor Vehicles director Juana C. Leon Guerrero. BMV’s annual report showed that a total of 1,856 new cars were registered in 2015, 172 less than the year-to-date number of 1,684.
Renewals are also expected to increase with 14,277 from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31 compared to the annual data of 14,267 in 2015. Overall, the year-to-date total—including the new and imported cars, renewals, and transfers—is at 19,563 against the 20,447 in 2015.
And that increase in the number of vehicles is a cause of road congestion, with traffic usually building up during the morning rush hour and the commute back home. Long lines of cars are usually seen in areas near schools or bus shelters.
That’s why the administration, together with the Department of Public Safety, Department of Public Works-Technical Services Division, and other concerned agencies, are mapping out plans to ease traffic congestion, especially in the Garapan tourist district.
Acting governor Victor B. Hocog said they have been meeting with the government agencies to address congestion on the road, most particularly in the Garapan—Beach and Middle roads—area. “TSD and DPW are mapping out some re-routing to ease the flow, reduce traffic congestion, and ensure everyone’s safety,” he said.
The first phase of the plan is expected to be finished early next month, with the public seeing a clearer picture of the re-structured traffic scheme.
DPS Traffic Section commander Sgt. Anthony Macaranas said the high volume of vehicles on the road—both by residents, those coming back from the mainland, and tourists—also saw an increase in the number of traffic violations and other incidents.
Macaranas said that they have been busy citing traffic violators and responding to car accidents. “We noticed an increase in traffic violations, also in traffic crashes. That’s why we want to tell drivers to be vigilant while on the road,” he said.
There have already been 1,730 car crashes in the CNMI since Jan. 1 to early this month compared to the 1,676 in 2015.
That’s why Macaranas is advising everyone to be a defensive driver. “You have to look at the other drivers and be aware of their movements on the road in order for you to also be safe.”
“We don’t want to have more crashes. We want drivers and the public to arrive safe while they are traveling from point A to point B. We also want to remind everyone that we are out there enforcing the laws and we will not allow drivers to continue the violations that they have been doing,” said Macaranas.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in an earlier interview that the new public transportation system would help ease traffic and congestion on the road. Two specialized buses are set to arrive either in January or February next year and commuting would be an alternative to lessen the number of cars on the road.
“We come to a point that our population is growing and this would also assist the needs of those who can’t afford to have their own transportation. Aside from carpooling, tourists can also use it since the route will be along Beach Road from Garapan [T Galleria area] to [Pacific Islands Club],” said Torres.
He added that studies have been conducted in areas where traffic is heavy, especially in Garapan around Paseo de Marianas. “We are thinking of putting up traffic signs in some areas and working on one-way streets. We’re taking data and we’re working with DPW, the Marianas Visitors Authority, Emergency Management Services, and other concerned departments.”
“We are making sure the one-way system is done right, especially during emergency situations. Once we put all of this into place, especially if you park at the wrong area, ticketing would be strictly implemented,” said Torres.
He said a massive information campaign would be held before they implement the new traffic plan that aims to have a more organized situation and less traffic congestion. “We’re going to have a 30-day notice to inform the community. So I’m advising everyone to park at the right areas, don’t go into one-way streets, and follow the law. If you got a ticket, you’ll pay for it.”