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Yes, dearest reader, it has been inconvenient for your daily commute now, all of it, any which way, we get you. Yes, also, that you have all the right to air your concerns for or against LTFRB and the mass transit system of the Philippines in its entirety.

Instead of the standard rant that most of you share, why not take it a notch further and create solutions for yourselves?

Let's get to the root cause of why many of us suffer having to spend 4 hours a day on the road:

Mass transport system is, for a lack of a better word or phrase, horridly disgusting, which doesn't even begin to grasp the gravity of the situation.

I'm dismissing a lot of the arguments for and against tricycles and pedicabs since these forms are concentrated down to the local government unit.

The jeepney

The very first problem from jeepney drivers is that, though it is required of them to attain professional drivers' license status, the current Philippine standard does not cover many aspects of proper driving and rules and engagement of driving on an international scale.

It seems that a lot of the requirements of going "pro" is that you know how to accelerate, brake, make a turn, reverse, park, and do a three-point-turn. It is still very prevalent, very obviously, in fact, that most of these "professional" drivers don't know how to stick to a side lane when loading or unloading passengers, stop before an intersection, common driving courtesy of right of way, sticking to PUV lanes, counter flow because it's inconvenient and slow, and create jeepney terminals whenever convenient.

I understand, too, that these people need to make a living. Perfectly clear. However, does it have to come at the expense of everyone else on the road who, mind you, are taxpayers who have just as much rights as the next "professional" jeepney driver?

Perhaps if we all considered creating standards on the actual basics towards professional driving ethics then maybe we won't be garnering too much of a problem.

All of the arguments have not even touched on ecological matters such as the smog output of each of these jeepneys, safety of passengers through regular tune-ups and checks, real use of smoke screening mechanisms (that cost extra for a basic public transport.)

You see the mounting problems here?

photo: @giosanpedro

The bus

This bus system only obeys laws (most of the time) along EDSA and all of the time within Makati, Subic, and, of course, Bonifacio Global City.

Much like the problems of the drivers of jeepneys, most bus drivers hardly ever have proper training for defensive driving, and knowledge of the rules and regulations of the road.

This has come to a point where the conductors already have a pseudo system in place to check for traffic enforcers ahead of them to know if they can get away with a violation. The 'intel' comes from co-conductors ahead of them under the same umbrella company or the ambulant vendors that load into the buses to sell goods and commodities.

Don't even get me started on leg room, or lack thereof, inside a supposed 60-seater turned to 80 by cramming as little a leg space fit for munchkins and oompa loompas.

The entire 'experience' spirals down as more and more people are crammed, pushed, shoved, shouted at, to take as little a space in SRO position with hardly a comfortable hold on the handrails (if they are tall enough) or actual space for passengers who wish to alight, to actually alight. Notwithstanding all the groans and complains from everyone else who got nudges, pushed, and shoved while said process was taking place.

Buses that rely on 'natural air' for internal cooling have even been dubbed "biyaheng langit" (roughly: road to heaven) for the insane speeds of a bus careening through an almost empty highway at 2 in the morning attempting crazy maneuvers nearly missing potholes, crossing animals and humans, or sometimes, other vehicles.

Perhaps its the system of asking for a 'boundary' fee per bus that requires them to have to make the most amount of trips being filled the most amount of times in a day just to get to earn for a living.

Perhaps it is also the companies themselves that don't support regular pay to these drivers to keep them on their toes and working three times as hard as regular buses are supposed to.

This goes outside of the fact that, until now, conductors are still issuing tickets manually pulled from a collection of tickets because technological advancements have yet to reach their hands.

Taxis

There are a lot to be said with this mode of transportation since it's supposed to be the most convenient of options out of all of the "options" provided to us by the government.

I'll begin with saying that yes, it is exasperating to even try to understand the current state of affairs.

Yes, the drivers themselves are imposed daily boundary fares which means the short trips they choose allow them to reach their quota faster. We understand this; specially if the vehicle and the license is not theirs but from an operator.

But it has gone too far for you to want to ask first where anyone is going before you, taxi driver, get to decide if you will transact with your passengers. It is your job to do so, why rob the public of that convenience? Because you have mouths to feed? So do we. We all do! You are not that special nor that important.

Then, perhaps we should look at it from the point of operators like the favored Ryo Aki that, I've been told by drivers themselves, have base salary plus benefits outside of commission in case they perform really well. Even before TNS, Ryo Aki has a Line profile you can book from with an additional 50 pesos reservation fee.

We should then look to LTFRB to impose said requirements to pay drivers reasonable base salary on all companies offering taxi services instead of letting them sort it out themselves.

Also, we should look to the training of the drivers themselves that cut every corner they can, cut every line possible, and, overall, disobey rules of driving in general.

These all go without pointing out cab cleanliness, orderliness, and the fumes from LPG enabled vehicles.

photo: @giosanpedro

Train "System"

It's already a hair-thin stretch to call it a "system" as it hardly provides a stable and reliable means of transport for anyone; This, hailing from the mere fact that you cannot alight one train and conveniently ride another without having to exit and re-enter the platform, if even a farther cry from simply just making sure just about anyone can ride a car as fast as possible to the next destination.

photo: @giosanpedro

photo: @giosanpedro

The Humans

Did you know, that when there are traffic enforcers visibly present at every corner and every street, motorists suddenly and magically obey traffic rules and regulations? This was made very clear and very apparent one morning along the intersection and the flyover that is EDSA cor Roxas Boulevard (by Heritage and Blue Bay Walk.)

The first bottleneck happens when self-entitled car owners, taxis, UV drivers, and "important people" cut through the long line of cars headed for the overpass because they are too important to be made to slow down. This not only slows the stream of vehicles going up the ramp but also hinders those that are not going the same direction from moving forward. Literally two bottlenecks because there are far too many "important" people who can't be bothered to give way to those that were there before them.

Add to that buses that stop right before the intersection to load and unload passengers, commuters looking to cut off those that are patiently waiting by the bus and jeep stop, jeeps that converted the underside of the overpass as a terminal, more important people beating the red light, jeeps that have to and the throngs of jaywalkers that just can't be bothered to stop for less than a minute, then you have chaos.

Miraculously, however, this 'chaos' I have just painted goes away the moment traffic enforcers are visibly present within the immediate vicinity of the intersection. The throngs of humans blocking the intersection obediently lineup at the stop, buses will wait to get to the stop to unload and load passengers, cars all stop right before the pedestrian lane, and just about everything is in good order. If you were visiting Manila for the first time, it's as if no remnant of road greed is present.

What this all boils down to is the humans of Manila, when we all start giving way, when we all start thinking of the greater good, we can work together to make it seamless on the roads.

Every single aspect of our problems come from the Filipinos themselves. Not because regulation has failed us, not because the government has failed us, but because we all fail to see the bigger picture. YOU are part of the problem by not addressing it, by not recognizing it, by not being able to make the small adjustment needed to make our daily commutes livable.

Maybe if we all just started to realize that each of us are responsible, then we can make a better case that it is the government who has failed us.

Mabuhay Manila.

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