MMDA switches stoplight countdown timers to adaptive traffic signal system

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) — Some motorists have been recently complaining about missing countdown timers on several stoplights in Metro Manila.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) explained on Monday that it has upgraded countdown stoplights with advanced traffic signals that operate based on an intersection's volume of vehicles.

"Sa ngayon po ay nag-upgrade na po tayo ng traffic system na tinatawag nating 'advance traffic control system' na ito ay may mga detectors," MMDA Road Safety Unit Traffic Operations Officer V Francisco Pesino Jr. told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon.

[Translation: Right now we have upgraded the traffic system to what we call 'advance traffic control system' that has detectors]

Pesino explained that the traffic system operates in three basic modes: fully actuated, semi-actuated, and fixed-time.

The countdown timers are only applicable when the traffic lights are under the fixed-time mode as it does not conflict with the timing display unlike the other modes, according to the MMDA official.

"Kapag fully at semi-actuated (modes), may conflict po ito sa ating detectors… Ang detectors ay nagbibigay ng time based on the actual volume of vehicles," he said.

[Translation: In fully and semi-actuated (modes), it conflict with our detectors... The detectors give time based on the actual volume of vehicles]

On apprehensions

The MMDA denied motorists' reports of green traffic lights immediately turning red while they were crossing intersections.

"Hindi po totoo na green (light) tapos pagtawid ay nagre-red na. meron tayong three seconds na dilaw (yung traffic light). This is part of the green light time. Hindi pa sila pwede hulihin," Pesino argued.

[Translation: It's not true that the green (light) turns red after crossing. We have three seconds of yellow (light). This is part of the green light time. They can't be apprehended yet.]

Countdown timers out in the coming years

The MMDA is working on completely phasing out all stoplights with countdown timers "within two to three years" once the upgrade is fully operational, said Pesino, adding that those still operational will continue to be used until then.

"Ngayon po ay 50% connected na ang ating control center na we can monitor, adjust and change timing dito sa aming control center," added Pesino.

[Translation: Now our control center is 50% connected that we can monitor, adjust and change timing here in our control center]

The traffic system was upgraded after the agency's communication provider migrated from analog to digital system, disrupting stand-alone operation of all signalized intersection at the time, the MMDA official clarified.