By José Abeto Zaide
One of the challenges for a metropolis worthy of the name is how to provide affordable, dependable, and safe public transport. Over the years, the time it takes to get from home to office and back has multiplied exponentially.
Our government agencies have completely defaulted on transport. Our throughfares may be clogged on rush hours to standstill; the major expressways have been franchised to private concerns; buses have multiplied and run half-empty. Is it a wonder that car sales average 300,000 per annum? (Which only further compound the problem.) And motorbike sales multiply exponentially because they can zig-zag the traffic.
What we need is a functioning mass transit system like a workable MRT. An even better solution would be the underground subway system like the one proposed by the Daang EDSA Consortium (EEI, DMWAI, IPM and Sta. Clara). This consortium offered to build and operate a subway tracing the EDSA route from north to south. It would have addressed the flow of commuters and considerably eased the flow of motoring traffic. But that’s another story…
It will take a Greater Alexander to sever Manila’s Gordian knot of roads and tangled metropolitan transport system.
Take the case of the competing franchises of Uber and Grab. Soon after, Uber concedes our region to Grab and settles for a minority share. But the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) thinks the proposed merger between Uber and Grab in the region will create monopoly in the market.
Nobody, however, suggested that if only one of the two had offered to enter the market, the authorities would have objected to a monopoly.
My daughter has just discovered a network cheaper than Grab or Uber. This ride-sharing system runs from various circles and enters to Makati center-point, taking in passengers for only P100 one-way.
But this informal network may yet be subjected to LTFRB.
The perpetually beleaguered DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade promises to come up with more MRT trains to ease the long queues.
Commuter and militant groups assailed Tugade’s plan to file cases against commuters who force themselves in and overload MRT 3 trains and cause unloading incidents.
They assert that it is the lack of working trains which make the public “desperate” to catch a ride.
Tugade instructed the MRT 3 management to file cases and collect damages from those who would lean on or force open train doors. “It’s not about parts, it’s about this passenger. My instruction [is to] identify this person,” Tugade said. “Many are being inconvenienced because of the lack of discipline.”
The doors of southbound train malfunctioned and forced the offloading of a thousand passengers at Santolan-Annapolis station. The Department of Transportation said that with Tugade’s directive, erring passengers may now be charged with such cases as damage to property or malicious mischief.
In Southern Philippines, especially in far-flung areas of Mindanao, there’s the Habal-Habal – a motorcycle modified to seat multiples (from 5 to 13). It’s also called Skylab. (I always thought it was named after some Star Wars fantasy, until a local explained that it is for short, “Sakay na, Love!”)
Despite its popularity and general availability, the innovation is actually an unaccredited mode of public transport due to safety concerns and a contradiction to existing laws. However, a proposed ordinance was recently submitted by the local sector in coordination with the Land Transportation Office and the Department of Transportation for the accreditation of Habal-Habal aka Skylab operations, particularly in Cebu City.
Desperate situations take desperate turns.
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