Mass transport system: The public wants it
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - October 25, 2015 - 10:00am

We, Filipinos, in general, are so enamored with things, people or events with entertainment value than those with economic implications. True enough, we spend more time watching “Ms. Pastillas” and “Yayadub” gimmicks than investing time figuring out what might ameliorate us from abject poverty.

Worst, we try to hook ourselves countless hours with telenovelas and even spend more days discussing the future episodes with “gossip-mates” than projecting ways and means by which we may be able to contribute something to the country in terms of economic development or even in simple concerns like traffic congestions.

We, Cebuanos, however, are quite different.  Even if something is widely acceptable, we always find a way to present our own. These qualities both have a good side and a bad side. On a positive note, this attitude helped us weather the economic storm decades ago. Through this, we have learned the art of survival.  In fact, as history reminds us, when the country was in deep economic turmoil and have resigned to the idea that we are helplessly sinking, we (through then Gov. Lito Osmeña) rode on the “Cebu-an island in the pacific” tagline to keep our heads above water.

Knowingly or unknowingly, these inherent qualities have made us non-conformists.  Consequently, we have become a race where, even if some proposals are sound and have far-reaching benefits, we never cease to present other alternatives or stubbornly stick to something antiquated. Truth to tell, compromise agreement and consensus have become rare commodities for us, Cebuanos. These qualities though have provided checks and balances that other parts of the country truly lack. To some extent, however, it drags some generally beneficial projects or plans that needed immediate implementation.

On the other hand, the sad reality is, amongst us, Cebuanos, there are a few who only think about their own selves. For one, jeepney operators and drivers who are grantees of “certificates of public convenience” have, for decades, continued to defy their franchises. As the grant suggests, they are to provide convenience to the riding public. The reality, however, is the exact opposite. Truth to tell, they have become “certified inconvenience providers”.

So that, the riding public is demanding for a better transport system. Like any progressive metropolis, some right-thinking Cebuanos have been demanding for a mass transport system.  So that, then and now, proponents and supporters have been locked in disagreement countless of times. As has always been, while mass transport system advocates underline its comfort and ease of implementation, jeepney operators and some of their supporters claimed that jeepneys, aside from being inexpensive, are still the best option. This is so, they stressed, because they pick you up wherever you may be, thus, is so convenient.  Distorted logic, it may be, they stick to it.

These disagreements certainly dragged and to a certain extent of animosities that no one can even foretell. As a result, projects (like mass transport system) that may have solved traffic congestions remained frozen.

Notably though, despite these unending disagreements, perpetual threat of transport strikes and jeepney operators and drivers’ alleged potential loss of income or business, this mass transport system (MyBus) application may be viewed by them  this way. They say, it will severely affect their income. Our take is different. It won’t affect that much. Why? The potential riders of MyBus are car owners, therefore, not their existing customers.  Considering the traffic situation and the comfort these buses provide, they (car owners) might just opt to leave their cars in their garages than use them.  Consequently, there shall be fewer cars running, thus, decongesting our roads.

On the other hand, MyBus drivers, we believe, are salary-paid, thus, unlike jeepney drivers who’ll make sure they’ll earn more than their daily rental (of the units they are driving), will not race like hell to pick up passengers.  Therefore, safety is assured.

While this side though of the argument may just favor the use of buses, such situation might serve as an eye-opener too for the jeepney operators and drivers. Through this, they might just have to revisit their outdated system by setting aside rental agreement and consider the salary option.

Indeed, there are many good options to talk about.  Having a mass transport system is really one them.  The general public is for it.  The jeepney operators and drivers are not.  It is not difficult to decipher though why they vehemently reacted against it. The reason is very simple.  If it isn’t pushed thru, then, the general public wouldn’t have a way of knowing if, indeed, it will worsen the traffic situation as they (jeepney operators and drivers) alleged.  If it pushes thru, then, the general public will have a way of knowing if it is, indeed, good.  If it is, then, everyone would know it shall be the beginning of their (jeepney drivers and operators) end.  Certainly, they won’t like it. It’s a no-brainer.

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