Give traffic plan a chance
On the basis that you have to start somewhere, a new traffic plan for Port of Spain is to due to take effect next month. The salient features of it—making Ariapita Avenue and Tragarete Road one-way going east and west respectively—has naturally drawn the most criticisms.
Taxi-drivers plying these routes, and some business owners, immediately rejected the idea. The former claimed that making the two thoroughfares one-way would reduce their earnings and inconvenience their passengers, while the latter group argued that business, already suffering because of the no-parking regulations, would see a further drop in customers.
But officials behind the plan claim to have the support of the police, and presumably of qualified traffic engineers. In fact, the concept has already proved fairly effective in central Trinidad, where the routes around the Endeavour flyover were made into a large roundabout. The off-ramps from highway to flyover have been closed off so that there is only one bottleneck which occurs in eastbound traffic heading over the flyover (and even that could be removed if the traffic managers made the two-way lane westbound instead).
The Ariapita-Tragarete plan is utilising the same concept, creating one large roundabout in order to reduce the bottlenecks which cause continual traffic during the day. The north-bound and south-bound side streets in Woodbrook are to be similarly tinkered in order to minimise blocks caused by vehicles exiting onto the main thoroughfares.
Will the plan work? That remains to be seen, but the fact that so many people don't care even to wait and see reflects two backward traits of the national mind: one, a dislike of change, even when the existing situation is unsatisfactory; and, two, a mistrust of trial-and-error, or experimentation, even though this is the most effective method for finding out what works.
Part of this attitude stems from mistrust of authority. The fear is that, even if a change is worse than what obtained before, those in authority would be unwilling to admit that they erred. Such concern is not misplaced. But ministers and mayors might find their plans more acceptable if they simply explained that they are "trying something" for a specific time and, if their idea fails, they'll try something else. The traffic experts might also help by explaining the concepts, and even the mathematics, behind their arcane science.
In this instant case, the Woodbrook traffic plan must be more carefully policed and monitored for effectiveness than previous attempts. All change entails some disruption, and this new plan's success or failure will depend on whether most commuters and businesses come to see it as creating a more efficient flow of traffic. It is at least worth a try.