Caught (up) in traffic

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We deserve better transport!

June 2014
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In the news lately are various problems pertaining to transport and the solutions authorities have come up with that they think are stop-gap solutions to alleviate the problems. The EDSA MRT Corp, for example, tried to experiment with a bus service to supplement the supply of transport for the tremendous demand for the MRT 3 trains. For some reason, the MRTC did not coordinate with the MMDA as well as the LTFRB for the experiment and this resulted in their buses being halted by the MMDA for being “colorum” or illegally operating public transport services. That quickly fizzled out even as they tried to convince queued passengers at stations to take the express bus instead.

More recently, this May, the MRT 3 experimented with what they called express trains. This was actually a “skip” train service where certain trains will not be stopping (i.e., skipping) certain stations. This was supposed to address congestion as well as improve travel times. It didn’t on both ends. Such services would have a chance if the MRT had the trains (rolling stock) for this kind of operation to be sustainable. Also, there’s the issue of the MRT tracks not being designed for trains to bypass stations with stopped trains (i.e., express trains bypassing local trains). That alone means there’s a limit to the number of trains you can deploy because there’s no way one can bypass the one ahead of it.

The MMDA recently re-introduced ferry services along the Pasig River. These are basically school buses loaded up on boats. While I’m sure the people behind this are well meaning, I couldn’t help but cringe with the idea that this seems to be the best we can do with the resources we have and agencies like the MMDA and the DOTC (especially the DOTC) seem content with their ideas for a solution to the transport/traffic mess we are in. Is it safe? So far, there have been no incidents yet so there are

The bottomline is that we do not deserve this low quality of transport services. The inefficiencies have directly or indirectly cost us a lot in terms of actual money or time that could have gone into more productive ventures. And the problem seems to be that many people have become manhid of their conditions and have taken transport matters in their own hands. Such comes in different forms like getting a motorcycle so they won’t have to take public transport or get caught in traffic jams. Another way is to get a second (even third or fourth) car so that the number coding scheme will not affect one’s trips. These examples, however, are more exceptions compared with the majority who cannot do anything about their plights except perhaps wake up earlier or stay at the office or school later so they don’t have to deal with traffic jams or difficulties of getting a ride.

I think we should voice out our displeasure with the current conditions and there are many ways to do this without going out in the streets to protest. That includes using social media to get the attention of those responsible for transport and traffic in your city or town. You just have to watch out for the trolls as there are many out there including those who seem to be working with the very same people responsible for transport and traffic. In such cases, you have to be careful how you react if someone heckles your posts. Actually, you shouldn’t mind them because otherwise, you would easily become frustrated or offended, which is what they want you to be. So you got to keep your cool and be patient with this social media approach. There are many advocacies out there that you can probably participate in and these include initiatives by competent NGOs who push for sustainable transport, inclusive mobility and clean air, among others. I like the term a friend coined from various experiences they had with their work on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Cebu and Manila – dignity of travel. We have to get back this dignity that has steadily deteriorated or degraded by the poor quality of our transportation systems.


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