Briones: Need for a new mode of public transport

TRAFFIC in the metro has figured in the news lately. What with motorists getting stuck in snarls for hours on end. Not to mention the state of some roads, which forces vehicles to move at a snail’s pace, trying to maneuver around crater-like potholes.

If you have been following my columns, I have been ranting and raving about this problem since I started writing.

And I can get on my high horse since I belong to the thousands of commuters, who actually rely on public transportation.

I have done so in the last two years, when I realized that if I wanted to prolong my life I’d have to stop driving. And, of course, lose weight--which I have--quit smoking--which I also have--and ease up on drinking--which I plan to do.

You see, the drive from our house in Banilad to the office on P. del Rosario, which used to take 15 minutes, tops, when I joined SunStar Weekend in 1996, now takes an average of 45 minutes. The trip even takes longer during Fridays or when the President comes to town or when there’s an Asean meeting.

Mind you, my beef was never about how long it took to get me from Point A to Point B, but with what I had to contend with while I was behind the wheel.

On the Banilad-Talamban corridor alone, the volume of vehicles, private and public, has doubled in the last two decades. (I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m basing the number on personal observation.)

This means a lot of new drivers. And judging by the stickers on the back of many tiny cars that ply the streets, they’re “lady” drivers. Not that I’m singling out any gender because drivers, who decide to stop by the curbside to make or take a call or text and block one lane in the process or change lanes suddenly without making a signal, come in all shapes, sizes and gender.

What’s surprising is that the majority of violators come from the private sector. I should know. I’m speaking both as a driver and as a passenger of public utility vehicles.

Any modicum of courtesy is chucked out of the window as soon as they find themselves behind the wheel.

You probably thought I’d dissed on jeepney or taxi drivers. They, too, are guilty, very guilty, in fact, of making traffic infractions, but I’ve developed a high tolerance for them. After all, they’re all only making a living.

Anyway, that’s what I told myself whenever a jeep suddenly blocked my path to pick up a passenger.

Now that I take the jeep on a regular basis, my understanding and respect for jeepney drivers has risen considerably, especially for those who go at it alone. Talk about multitasking, it’s amazing how they manage to stay on the road while they accept the fare from and give change to mostly oblivious passengers.

But there’s one thing that I’ve realized since I joined the ranks of public commuters.

Jeepneys, as a mode of transportation, have to go and make way for something more efficient.

I don’t know if that will be the Bus Rapid Transit or the Light Rail Transit. Either way, Metro Cebu deserves a public transportation upgrade.
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