Passing along East Avenue in Quezon City one morning, I couldn’t help but notice the pedicabs (non-motorized 3-wheelers) lined up near the junction from Agham Road in what is just one of the so many informal transport terminals in this city. The motorized tricycle in the photo below is just a bonus but also notable as they weren’t supposed to be running along national roads like East Avenue. They are well within the sight of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) – two agencies charged with vehicle regulation though these 3-wheeled public transport modes are technically not under the LTFRB and LTO has no jurisdiction over NMTs. I suppose that the local government is well aware of their existence as their operations are legitimized through local regulations.
The proliferation of these modes and particularly the non-motorized 3-wheelers are due to the toleration if not encouragement from the local government. These are examples of “accommodations” and tolerance due to these being a source of livelihood for many informal settlers who typically operate these vehicles. In the case of the scene in the photo above, there is the proliferation (and over-supply) of these 3-wheelers whose drivers and operators make a living out of people not willing to walk because of poor facilities or perhaps out of sheer “katamaran.” In many cases, operators and drivers are residents of informal settlements such as those along Agham Road. God forbid that some of these are unlawful people who take advantage of passengers including unsuspecting or absent-minded students and office workers.
Are these forms of transport suitable for this setting? Are they safe forms of transport? Shouldn’t there be a drive to have better pedestrian facilities and more “formal” transport services for a city’s constituents? These are persistent questions that theoretically have answers in terms of good practices found elsewhere. However, in many Philippine cases solutions are dependent on how progressive and serious LGUs are with dealing with these issues. Success is dependent on the initiatives of the LGUs who are in the front lines when addressing concerns on local public transport.