Public transportation

STREETLIFE - Nigel Villarete - The Freeman

From the net, I got this definition – “transport of passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public, typically managed on a schedule, operated on established routes, and that charge a posted fee for each trip.” Like many other things in life, almost everybody knows this as it is something we see or experience in the course of daily life. While many may not really be using it on a daily basis, I believe all have at one time or another.

Like many other things we experience on a daily basis, we take these for granted. But transportation in general actually takes a big toll out of our resources, both personal and collective. Transportation is nothing but a cost and a loss. Sure, there are times we enjoy it. Or rather, we may just have to find ways to enjoy it. But in economics, every minute we spend in transportation is a minute we lose in doing productive work. Except if you’re a paid diver or worker in the transport business.

All of us generally need to move each day, primarily to work or to school. And so, there is this window of time each day that we spend on the road. The biggest difference in our individual experiences is the ownership of the transport we take. Public transportation is when we ride on vehicles we don’t own, and we just pay for the ride. Some of us own cars or other forms of private transportation. But both public and private transportation use the same road system, which generally becomes congested over time as population, as well as the economy, grows.

The biggest problem that we face and almost always becomes worse over time is traffic congestion. But congestion does not differentiate between private cars and public transport --it’s just a mere phenomenon in geometry and physics that inevitably becomes worse in time due to population and economic growth. Thus, it’s a never-ending issue, generally deteriorating over time punctuated by incremental introduced solutions. What generally escapes analysis is the fact the interaction between the rich and the poor and the people who make decisions.

At the end of the day, the issue revolves around public transportation and private cars. While both contribute to traffic congestion, it is generally private cars which are the main cause of it. Unfortunately, in this country, the ownership of cars is still considered a class divide between the rich and the poor. Many may not like the description, but we have to admit that cars are always looked upon as symbols of affluence. It is even included in the goal statement of the national development strategy.

I disagree. We should aim for mobility, not ownership of things. To me there’s something wrong in a country that aims for each family to own cars. Many progressive and efficient countries in the world don’t and prioritized good and efficient public transportation instead. Almost all families in Japan own cars but they use public transportation when going to work. Many in Singapore and Hong Kong, too. In the Philippines, we aim to go to work in cars. That’s why we have “traffic” every day.

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