Anatomy of a work-trip
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - March 12, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part 2)

Last week, we ran through a morning trip of an ordinary Cebuano who doesn’t own a car. We can typically break down the trip as follows: 1.) Go to the jeepney stop to get the ride by walking or taking a tricycle or trisikad; 2.) Wait for an “available” jeepney; 3.) Travel the distance to the jeepney stop nearest his/her place of work and disembark; then 4.) Go to his/her workplace by walking, tricycle or trisikad. In the afternoon, the same process happens, in reverse order. Some may need two or even more jeepney rides each way, further adding to the transfer, walking or riding tricycle/trisikads, and waiting between them. That’s what majority of Cebuanos (4 out of 5) endure --a hard life, something that those using cars wouldn’t know (except if you did this before getting that car). As the plight becomes harder due to increasing congestion, the majority slowly suffer and (usually silently) complain. But the people who complain the most, are those who own/ride cars!

Going back to the trip breakdown, we can see that the total trip to work (and back to home in the afternoon), maybe broken into two --the actual ride itself on the vehicle, and the transfer and waiting for the ride. Which one is more disagreeable? Which one do people hate the most? Which one does the commuting public feels is the worst in this daily grind?

Let’s ask those who ride jeepneys to work. Suppose you have 2 choices: 1.) You wait for 10 minutes and the ride takes 50 minutes; or 2.) You wait for 50 minutes and the ride takes 10 minutes? Let’s assume further that in the morning you wait beside N. Bacalso Avenue or Banilad Road, and in the afternoon, you wait in the Ayala Jeepney Terminal or in front of Andok’s near Mabolo church. Which is better? You say it’s unrealistic? Let’s make it more sensible --waiting 20 minutes for a 40-minute ride, or waiting 40 minutes for a 20-minute ride?-- noting the kind of transfer/waiting environment we currently have.

Especially if we add the uncertainty of the waiting time (and the risk that rides may not come at all, or you must jostle your way to get one), surveys have shown that people prefer lesser waiting time, even if the ride is longer. There is this fear and loathing of waiting, even in one with a line. Worst if it’s a free-for-all, survival of the fittest. But in a line, the waiting seems forever, many always look forward to the security and safety of being inside a vehicle already. Even if it’s slow, but you know you’re on your way home.

The point here is that a home-to-work trip is a “total experience” that is less affected by the speed of the vehicle. It’s the quality of the service, timeliness, and reliability that people want the most (though they may not realize it). Transfers, waiting, uncertainty, and inconvenience --these are the issues that need to be addressed. (To be continued)

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