Early Christmas traffic

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I FEEL Christmas in the air not because I see holiday colors in markets and malls, in parks and in homes. I feel Christmas in the difficulty of getting a cab ride.

Cab drivers complain about the traffic clogging up almost everywhere, they keep away from such snags and so they don’t answer the call for service made by their station. Try and call for taxicab service in the city and stay trapped where you are because no service seems available.

Many cabbies are stuck in traffic, others are making decisions on which call for service will let them drive away from the tangle.

Traffic is heavy when more people are out in the streets, in malls, going to parties and coming home in a cab ride after.

At one time, I stopped calling for a cab on the telephone and walked from the side of the Sun.Star Cebu building along Don Pedro Cui.

There were no empty cabs. I walked to R. Landon St. up to Jones Ave. It was night and getting late, what chance did I have to get a cab on a street where there were others waiting by the roadside, jumping into cabs more quickly than me?

There was a time when I waited for a cab in a street corner and failed, standing there for 20 minutes. Then the thick traffic brought me luck when a cab slowed down at a stop light. There was a passenger seated with the driver out front, and I looked at the empty back seats with anguish.

The driver pointed to his passenger, as if to tell me, “Di ko bakanti, ma’am.” But I insisted and so the passenger’s window was opened. Quickly I said I wanted a ride no matter where the passenger was going, I’d be the next passenger. The kind-looking passenger nodded and I rushed to the backseat, not waiting for any reaction from the driver who kept quiet and moved on.

Christmas traffic is starting now. There’s thick traffic everywhere even if it’s reported that there’s a decrease of use of public
transport. PUJs, taxis, buses and mini-buses, motorcycles, private vehicles will have to face the “cost of congestion” in a creeping traffic.

Cebu City is an area six percent of the island province of Cebu. It’s the biggest of seven cities and 48 towns; its population is growing, its services increasing. The place is packed and people keep moving around. Right in the heart of the cluster of 80 barangays are trade and services activities, and traffic.

From 40 to 55 percent of the number of vehicles in the province within the 1994-1999 period belonged to the city. Osmeña Blvd., among others, experiences traffic problems daily.

No, it doesn’t mean there’s increase in business in a heavy traffic day for cabbies. Slower speed means longer time between flag-down costs of the meter. There’s also cost in a traffic jam, like wasted fuel and passengers missing appointments.

When the traffic creeps or squats on a road, there comes the “road rage” and everybody behind the wheel can get impatient and nasty, slipping in and out of the line. Some years back, a friend drove me to Washington from New York when the traffic, which wasn’t smooth, stayed stuck for some minutes longer at one time. Some drivers of the cars and public transports got down from the vehicles, then walked back and forth, showing quiet anger, waiting in the jam.

What adds up to heavy traffic? The problems of undisciplined drivers and pedestrians clog up the traffic, Christmas holidays or no.

Also illegal parking, sidewalk vending, and other types of road “encroachment.”

In Los Angeles, you can get caught in a traffic jam at 4 a.m. in road problems at dawn!

Our problem isn’t that much and the Cebu City Traffic Management Coordination Committee can handle it, right?

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 08, 2013.

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