Sunday, July 3

The ills of public transport

Earlier posts have been informative and enlightening. But this one is a complete opposite of previous articles. The main objective of this is still to bring some accepted conditions into the light that there should be better and improved conditions. It takes one voice to speak out, positive or negative observations there may be, than join in the apathy of most citizens towards the declining transportation services in our country. Yes, you might argue - I do care but, what can an ordinary citizen like me do something about this?

It is a fact that 70% of Filipinos rely on public transportation in going about their daily activities - to work, to school, to market/malls and so forth. Specially for average income earners, public transport is their main mobility choice.

The demand for public transportation modes has also been matched by a number of different public utility vehicles on roads such as bus, FX, jeep and the mass transit provided by rail. But the demand has not been adequately met when one observes the jam packed MRT trains, standing-on-aisle passengers of buses, and clinging persons on the entrance/exit of jeepneys during peak hours of travel.

A battle exists among commuters to be able to ride their transport choice, whether at the cost of pushing, stepping on someone else's feet or turning a blind eye to disadvantaged individuals such as elderly, handicapped, and pregnant women just so the most comfortable seat will be enjoyed. Ah, comfortable? Think again. How can a passenger-full bus wherein its center aisle is also occupied with 10-30 people, for instance, be comfortable to ride on? Then the driver and his assistant keeps on allowing more passengers to get on the bus. Getting off in turn becomes more difficult as one has to squeeze himself or herself out of the herd of standing passengers.

It is very distressing to experience compromises in terms of commuters' safety and comfort at such circumstances. Is this the driver's or the commuters' or the government's fault? How easy it is to point fingers at people or entities deemed responsible for the transport sector. How easy it is to fret and be furious of the bad transportation conditions. How easy it is to shrug one's shoulders and move on with daily life as if the current situation is like the invisible oxygen we breathe. You might say it's normal. Think again. What if the existing conditions worsen even more? Would you turn a blind eye, closed ears and choose to walk groping towards your destination? And say it's the way it is.

Consider the MRT3, too. Have you experienced being squeezed in during peak periods of travel, sometimes to the point of holding your breath in order not to smell the person next to you or painstakingly hoping for an air to breathe and survive uneventful seclusion with a swarm of people? Pushed, stepped on, harassed, and stressed.

Some people would even take advantage of other commuters as in the case of robbers, and hold up. Where are you in all of these? An observer? A victim? An active advocate of better transportation system?

There is a road towards better transport environment. That road should consider and be concerned of every individual it passes. It is not selective nor encompassing but always for the good of all. In the process of constructing better roads, there is usually a leader that goes ahead and prepares the way then everyone will follow. If it is a matter of political will to attain the lofty ideal then so be it. There is a road towards improved transportation system for which Filipinos should always look forward to. It may not happen overnight but it takes one, then two, and hopefully everyone to actively pursue and attain this goal.

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