Friday, August 2, 2013

Bus Stopped

Much has been discussed lately in the local media about the horrendous traffic conditions in Metro-Manila, especially along the main thoroughfares such as Edsa and Taft where there are often gridlock conditions.  Over the years, various plans and solutions have been offered and / or attempted, such as  coding by which vehicles are allowed on the roads only on certain days of the week according to the number on their license plate. But car owners who can afford to do so circumvent this rule by purchasing a second car with plate numbers that have alternate restriction days.

One of the latest "solutions" for easing traffic is banning the numerous buses traveling between Metro-Manila and the provinces  by relegating them to depots at the city, specifically at Alabang (Muntinlupa), ParaƱaque, and Trinoma (Quezon City) for southwest, southeast, and north bound buses respectively.  Presently, the terminals are located throughout Metro-Manila, and every day hundreds of these buses pick up and drop off passengers at numerous points along city streets en route out of and into town.

Unlike other previous attempts to resolve the traffic mess, this one impacts my wife Lydia and me directly, especially her as she frequently travels to and from her home province. Currently, the bus service that she uses for those trips is a fifteen-minute taxi ride from our home. Soon she will instead have to travel to Alabang, which is about an hour away when traffic is light. And she will be forced to pay a considerably higher taxi fare to get there (about 5x the amount she's now paying), assuming that she can get a cab that will take her to that destination because many drivers refuse to transport that far.  And of course, there are thousands of other passengers likewise affected, many others of whom carry heavy baggage and / or will have to travel on city buses to the outlying depots. 

I don't mean to sound complaining. I suppose that we all need to do our part to help improve the traffic situation. But there are others ways to address the matter such as cracking down and on and removing the hundreds of  "colorum" (unauthorized) pubic utility (city) buses plying the streets every day instead. If traffic is reduced at the expense of franchised provincial buses, as Lydia points out the former will likely use the freed-up space to increase their incidents of speeding and racing  each other for passengers.

In other words, the traffic problem here will never really be solved until the main cause is eradicated: Lack of discipline among the majority of both private and public vehicle driversand in Philippine society as a whole. If the authorities would enforce and if motorists and pedestrians would obey the existing regulations, there wouldn't be a need for this bus station relocation plan in the first place.So until people here learn to behave behind the wheel and on foot—or are forced to do so on pain of stiff fines, all the attempts by the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) to improve the flow of vehicles will wind up as mere band-aid solutions.