Number Coding Scheme

My sister and I were discussing the proposed modification on the number-coding scheme. We basically agreed on the same things – I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter.

To be fair, It doesn’t take an advanced math degree to realize that something like the number coding scheme does deal with volume of vehicles on the road. The real question is if such a solution also takes into account other factors surrounding the traffic situation. The short of it, it doesn’t – and that’s where it fails to be a lasting “solution”.

The problem, really, is that this can be easily avoided by those who can afford to buy new vehicles to circumvent the “rule” – which will eventually bring the volume back to what it was very quick.

I assume people who actually understand what I’m saying can imagine why this assumption is correct, but for the sake of being thorough (and for the sake of blogging about it), let me paint a clearer picture to put some perspective.

For now, let’s take all PUV and corporations out of the equation – and imagine a city comprised of say 10,000 households – and let’s throw in other “assumptions” while we’re at it.

  1. Each household has exactly one person capable of driving.
  2. Each household has exactly one vehicle at their disposal.
  3. All available vehicle plates are distributed evenly 1 In short, 1 thousand each for every digit a plate number ends in, capish?
  4. All drivers drive responsibly.
  5. All of these people drive to work everyday – through road x.
  6. Each additional car (when applicable) in a household will have end plates that are 3 digits apart – to avoid one household having both cars being coded on the same day

Now imagine that road x only could accommodate 8,000 cars. The fact that you have 2000 more cars than you ought to have on that road is one cause for congestion. And this is where, like I said, the coding scheme does address it. Our current scheme for instance would’ve prevented 2,000 cars each day from being on the road – problem solved.

Like I said, they haven’t factored other things – so let’s introduce one simple change: all families now have exactly 2 cars each with different end-plates, of course.

How many cars would then be on the road then? We can deduce that theoretically, while the number of coded cars each day would be doubled (#3), but so would the number of available cars to drive (now 20,000). The determining factor now would be the number of drivers. So if a driver of any given household can’t drive one car, they can use the other. Which means that all 10,000 drivers still get to drive at any given day, rendering our coding scheme useless just like that.

For the heck of it, say we add another small change, now we have 2 people capable of driving per household. Now the number of cars going to work would be what?

The matrix to visualise how the end plates will be allotted would be like such:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
            (x1000)

Each column would represent the vehicle end-plate allotment for every 1,000 households. Total number of cars, as mentioned (and pictured) is 20,000. You can see that at any given day, given our current scheme (2 end plates coded per day) there would be 4,000 households affected by the number coding – which means for those households, they’d only get to use one vehicle despite having 2 drivers – the other 6,000 households however, would be able to use both cars.

So some simple algebra would say that we’ve got (4,000 * 1) + (6,000 * 2) = 16,000. Sixteen thousand cars! Double the capacity of road x – with the coding scheme in place.

So the proposed modification basically says this:

  • 1, 2, 3, 4 banned on Mondays
  • 5, 6, 7, 8 banned on Tuesdays
  • 9, 0, 1, 2 banned on Wednesdays
  • 3, 4, 5, 6 banned on Thursdays
  • 7, 8, 9, 0 banned on Fridays

Referencing that with our Sim City matrix, at any given day we’d 6,000 households affected. So the math would be something like (6000 * 1) + (4000 * 2) = 14,000. A 12.5% reduction is hardly the kind of improvement one would hope in exchange for such an inconvenience.

Add another car into our scenario. 2 While there are some households that have all three cars available, the number of drivers will be the limiting factor.

PLATE ASSIGNMENTS    
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

DRIVEN CARS
2 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2
            (x1000)

Not only is the new scheme rendered totally useless ( (3000 * 1) + (7000 * 2) = 17,000 ) but we’ve also managed to increase congestion by 6%! And let’s not even think about what would happen if we increased the number of drivers.

So sure, technically speaking, the volume of cars on the road is an issue – and that coding does address it to a certain extent, but that “extent” is so narrow – that it couldn’t even cope with a barebones scenario that doesn’t even take into account other factors we have to deal with in real life 3 Vehicle road-worthiness, driver incompetence, poor road infrastructure, poor traffic enforcement, accidents, among other things.

I could continue discussing “better things” to focus on, but it would take too long and would entail a lot of dependencies 4 Like a carpool lane would depend on our road infrastructure; or that making owning an extra vehicle a financially impracticality – but only if we have good public transportation, etc. All I wanted to do with this post was to demonstrate with a simple scenario and algebra – how little number-coding helps. In short, number coding can work only if you address other factors that allow its circumvention. Otherwise, all they’re doing is just adding laws that inconveniences people more than it solves anything.

I’d focus on public transportation more if I were these law makers. We all know that it doesn’t really matter that much how much cars there are because it’ll always be over-capacity. The trouble is the busses/jeeps/etc. that just make unscheduled stops anywhere they please that clogs up the roads. Maybe if that’s dealt with we wouldn’t even need these schemes.

Notes   [ + ]

1. In short, 1 thousand each for every digit a plate number ends in, capish?
2. While there are some households that have all three cars available, the number of drivers will be the limiting factor.
3. Vehicle road-worthiness, driver incompetence, poor road infrastructure, poor traffic enforcement, accidents, among other things.
4. Like a carpool lane would depend on our road infrastructure; or that making owning an extra vehicle a financially impracticality – but only if we have good public transportation, etc.

One Reply to “Number Coding Scheme”

  1. A good friend of mine pointed it out : Whatever happened to the plan to have public bus drivers on fixed salary instead of the boundary system? The MMDA had said this will motivate bus drivers to be disciplined and thus, correct the bad habit of weaving in and out of lanes just to beat the traffic and pick-up more passengers.Ningas Cogon, as usual.

    Just my two cents worth – I think the real and bigger issue there is over population. Less people = less vehicles = less traffic. Actually, the system I really hate is how the Bus drivers run on commission. Yes it encourages them to get passengers, but it also has so much for ramifications such as them trying to out run each other, causing accidents and illegal stopping (not using the bus lanes or the ‘designated’ bus stops) and swerving. Taxi’s and jeeps are also another problem, but their impact is smaller in terms of impacting traffic. It’s really the buses. They are given 2 lanes in EDSA, which I find stupid in the first place, and don’t follow it anyway, they enter the car lanes like nothing and they stop wherever they please.

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