By FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
A country’s system of transportation is an indicator of its level of development. An efficient and economical mass transportation system means that the flow of growth from the centers to the localities is fast and is effective. However, for a country which claims to be on the road to inclusive growth, it is sad to note that the Philippines lags behind in terms of mass transportation in Asia and elsewhere.
Past administrations seem to have failed in focusing ample attention on the task of rehabilitating and improving our existing railways. If there are trains and tracks that are currently operational and are somehow servicing the riding public, they seem to still lack the necessary equipment and technical knowledge that will allow for a more efficient train system. The perceived benefits of a truly functional mass transportation system cannot be fully realized because of an apparent lack of ample support and adequate funding.
The recent abolition of the Road Board, however, seem to have given rise to a ray of hope for the Philippine Railway System. With the closure of the agency, I propose to utilize part of the allocation for the Road Board to fund the repair and rehabilitation of railroad tracks not only within Metro Manila but also lines that connect the Metro to nearby provinces. Similarly, part of the Road Board funding may be used to purchase new train coaches that will provide commuters with faster, safer, and more convenient rides to and from their homes, schools, or work. If considered, my humble recommendation may offer a relief to the usual traffic in the city through the alternative route of transportation that additional train lines will create for the people.
Railways are important channels of growth and development. Hence, it is but timely to cast attention on the upgrading of our train facilities throughout the country and provide funds that will strengthen our mass transportation system. If the Philippine transport system can be relied upon to deliver the people to their destinations, there will no longer be a need to have so many motor vehicles burning fuel and causing pollution. Not only will an efficient railway system give way to traffic decongestion. Even air pollution will be reduced. Both the people and the environment have much to gain from a truly cost-effective public transportation system.