Home-to-work trips
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul C. Villarete (The Freeman) - August 14, 2018 - 12:00am

Part 3 - Trip quality

Why is transport important? Especially the daily home-to-work trips? Because whether you like it or not, it takes time – time which you could have spent more productively. It takes away time which is generally considered as unproductive in nature, lost, and considered wasted (with minutely few exceptions). Thus, the ultimate aim of the transport sector is to reduce and minimize losses. You can’t make it zero unless you know how to teleport!

But another aspect is the quality of transportation. And this is where the “have-nots” lose to the “haves” again, and much worse. Good if we have a car – it’s rare to see a non-airconditioned one nowadays. The rest jockey for seats in cramped 20-seater jeepneys at ambient temperature, meaning as hot as the entire outside space during summer. Car riders enjoy their cool ACs, oftentimes by their lonesome. MMDA states that 70 percent of the vehicles in EDSA have only one passenger – the driver. It’s probably the same in Cebu, unless someone can prove otherwise.

The non-car-riding population’s woes do not end there. In our previous two articles, we illustrated the need for first-mile-last-mile (FMLM) transit needs and transfers, again, often open to the elements, sun or rain. But look at the lines of people waiting for jeepneys every morning in Bulacao or Basak in the south and Talamban in the north. They need to see the approaching rides so you see them occupying the entire outer road. Not only do you have to wait, you literally “fight” to get in first, or you’ll be late. The worst casualties are the women, children, the old, and those with disabilities.

It’s actually worse in the current MRT system in Manila. Oh, having a station is better because you’re forced to line up (in getting the ticket and into the platform). But you have to climb three to four flights of stairs! There are some elevators in some stations but these are for passengers with special needs, which oftentimes are abused by the fit. The sad thing is, people get used to the persistently worsening conditions that every deterioration is agonizingly accepted as the new normal.

No one objects to the notion that mass public transit is needed, whether it’s BRT, LRT, monorail, or subway. The conversation should delve on the costs – the cost to the government and the cost to the people, without forgetting that the cost to the government IS a cost to the people, too. But we have to reason on trip quality too, especially on transfers and FMLMs. At the end of the day (literally), each one of us just wants to go home fast and easily, smoothly, and comfortably as possible.

And every detail counts, so let’s analyze each step of the trip, one of the less discussed aspects of which is the boarding and alighting. This will lead us to the matter of transport (or transfer) stations. Here again we see the peculiarity which leads us to the funny statement that a BRT is not a bus! (To be continued)

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