BELOW THE LINE
By AMBASSADOR JOSE ABETO ZAIDE
In November last year, I wrote on this topic, how it was in the early 60’s (when I was young and full of hope): I commuted to school from Tambo, Paranaque, via EDSA. transferring at Cubao rotunda to catch the Marikina Bus which entered Loyola Heights. In recorded memory, I do not recall in the eight years of high school and college being tardy more times than the five fingers on my right hand.
FAST-FORWARD TO TODAY. With the exponential increase in Metro Manila population and of motor vehicles, to do that on public transport today would be next to the impossible. Students today may take as much as an hour to get to school; some even more.
Major cities are beset with the challenge of metropolitan traffic. Some solutions work. But after more than a decade of our ulong-sulong, some solutions were adapted in Manila (partial implementation). with checkered results. I leave it to our experts and better minds of our technocrats to continue to explore workable solutions for our commuters. (If only our political maters would allow and support them.)
While our experts labor to work the practicable, allow me to stream into the fantasy of a tired and ageing commuter and venture to speak out of turn.
NIGHT SHIFT. It’s not only the ladies of the night who are happily able to mix business with pleasure. Because they come out when the traffic is less tangled, they do not have to huff and puff like us ordinary mortals.
Bakers have normal business hours, delivering bread and pastries in the wee hours fresh from the oven.
The Manila Bulletin and the other major dailies are delivered early in the morning in time for breakfast reading of news-breaking headlines and sports. (Although those who start off at 6 a.m. or earlier to beat the traffic may soon have to miss this habit.)
There are several other trades that flourish unimpeded, because they are conducted in the early hours with the city still deep in slumber. Most famous, of course, and one great source of income to many, is the phenomenal growth of our call centers in the Philippines.
But why stop there? With a little tinkering of time schedules, we could advance the movement or action of some businesses, such as:
- Delivery of shipments and orders – Delivery services (personal effects and business deliveries), if directed to operate at the graveyard shift hours, could be more efficient (and decongest downtown traffic).
- Road construction – Simple roadworks can be done during the night shift. Quick ones can be finished, without holding up regular traffic. (This will be a boon to our chock-a-block tangle at rush hours.)
- Post Office mail and padala – Philippine mail won’t be delayed, if there is no traffic pile-up on the road. (This needs special arrangements, such as making sure that there is someone to receive delivery during regular hours.)
Among government agencies, I can think of my alma mater, the Department of Foreign Affairs, as one of the government bodies needing round-the-clock service. It can assign a percentage (5%?) of its force to a Night Shift Section to handle business, like:
- On real time, with other capitals of foreign governments.
- Render assistance-to-nationals’ cases which need immediate attention.
The Department of Trade and Industry may be another body which interfaces abroad with foreign entities and can be advantaged by real time communication. Several others may be imagined.
The Department of Defense is our largest sector. Can it flex its muscles and conduct some of its operations and training to the midnight hours? If they are able to do this, they will give immeasurable contribution to the national effort to decongest our major arteries.
It’s so tempting to think of our Department of Educations. E.g., if some schools could open night shift classes. (There are night classes in some universities.)
Imagine how much we could decongest Azcarraga at rush hour, if colleges expand their program and take in more students for the late night classes? How much greater decongestion of day traffic, if these schools open night classes for high school students?
But, I am jumping ahead of the story and probably speaking out of turn. I better close my space while my luck holds out.
Still, I hope that the fantasy titillates others, and that better and more creative minds can think of what can be done to provide the services in real time to optimize the potentials of our facilities. Because we have gotten up late in the day, only to discover that we are in a pickle and must scrape for solutions.
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