Anatomy of a work-trip (Part 4)
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - April 2, 2019 - 12:00am

How do we make a conventional or traditional public mass transport better? In part 3 (last week), we said if there are any improvements to be done, it will have to be on two aspects --two issues, different solutions or improvements-- the waiting part (terminals, stations, or stops), and the riding part. And we started with the riding part, which is basically providing segregated and dedicated lanes for public transport.

Let’s now try to look at the waiting part. What’s the existing situation? People going to work usually wait at the side of the road for jeepneys to ride each morning. In the city center, there are usually stops, but further away there are none. And since there are usually more people who need a ride than there are available vehicles, it’s a free-for all scramble to get the last seats. Not to mention that the jeepneys do not have schedules.

Looking more closely at how passengers embark on the jeepney, by its basic design, passengers getting off get down first, one after the other. After all who need to disembark have done so, then the new passengers board, one after the other. Think of the time spent for passengers to get down, one by one, and for the others to enter the vehicle, one after the other (and scrambling and jostling at that). That’s why sometimes, the time spent with the jeepneys stopping and picking up passengers is longer than the time it is running to the next stop. All in all, it doubles the travel time of everybody.

The lack of schedule has also contributed greatly to the deplorable transport system in the country. You don’t know when the next jeepney will come. Sometimes there’s none for a long time, other times, there are three or more coming simultaneously, competing for passengers. This is because of the lack of a scheduling system. You need to get to the stop much earlier than usual because you don’t know when you can get a ride. The other time contributor to the trip is the fare collection which is done inside the vehicle itself. Oftentimes, jeepneys stay at stops longer because fares are still being collected.

Obviously, if we improve systems and services at stations or stops, we get a huge improvement in our public transport systems. Last week, we stated that the placement of dedicated lanes will make the “riding” part go faster. It will also lessen the “waiting” part. Firstly, trips can be scheduled. Second, the design of stops and the vehicles can make boarding and disembarking superfast. It is estimated that this can be done in 10 seconds at BRT stations. Thirdly, fare collection is not done inside the vehicle but in the station. And this can be done electronically like what is done in modern BRTs and other rail-based transportation. If we upgrade the riding part through dedicated lanes, and put up stations like the BRT or LRT, we would have better public transportation services. (To be continued)

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