ONCE, I told banker par excellence Rolly de Guzman that I noticed that there was a different kind of road courtesy in Baguio. I said I noticed how the jeepney drivers and taxi drivers gave way to each other on the road. This in a way also explains the fact that traffic runs smoother when you leave the drivers be in such times.
Of course, my favorite driver and banker hardly rides public transport like me. I then proceeded to ask him if he ever saw a taxi bump into a taxi or a jeepney bump into another jeepney. He was silent for a moment then replied, “I never noticed.
Really?” He asked me back.
Here goes the logic. When you ride the public transport vehicle, you will notice that even in crunch time, a taxi driver will let another taxi through a line, particularly when he needs to cross. In this way, traffic is eased immediately. I do not know if they are equipped with foresight to know that when you are on a one lane or two lane road near any intersection, a plug happens when one lane is at a standstill because of one vehicle making an unsuccessful turn. More often than not, the driver who will not allow the other driver to pass is a private car. I guess, the attitude that runs through the mind is, “I was here first, I should be able to pass first.” So, the traffic takes almost 20 minutes to unclog.
Jeepney drivers on the other hand have the most patience. They may look pretty arrogant but the truth of the matter is they let each other through. Have you watched them maneuver through Kayang St.?
Those longer and longest jeepneys plying the Quezon Hill, Guisad, and Dominican Hill can actually maneuver into spaces that leave six inches on both sides of the jeep as spaces. They have mastered precise geometric movements. Particularly during the rush hours, watch the jeepney weave through the pedestrians who are buying from the vendors who take over the market sidewalk and the road with one layer of “bilao”. It may take some 10 minutes to get out of the squeeze but they succeed without a scratch. They seem to block the way of some jeeps when they wait their turn to park but in truth, it is a system that they have mastered too.
While jeep waits to get filled with passengers, the other blocks its path and when the other is ready to leave, the jeepney moves forward to give the jeepney space to move forward and it conveniently takes over the gap left by the other.
This is Baguio road courtesy. We immediately know the lowland driver from the homegrown ones because the lowlanders don’t allow upgoing vehicles the priority to pass. Neither do the lowlanders feel it important to give way to another because in Manila you will never reach your destination if you let another pass.
So, Baguio has some unique culture to be proud of – road courtesy.
But talk about the new Magsaysay Avenue traffic scheme. I wanted to laugh my head off when I waited patiently for 30 minutes to get through last Thursday. From Camdas to Burnham Park, it took me a total of 30 minutes. The most difficult part was that of the flyover since the traffic going towards the Slaughter House area was almost at a standstill.
The Benguet drivers have found a way to get even with the traffic scheme. The whole strip of Magsaysay Avenue from the corner of Bokawkan Road to the intersection of the Slaughter House has become the parking lane of the La Trinidad bound jeeps. This is their way of making sense of the spirit of the new scheme. They do not want to ease the flow but instead, as they wait their turn to get filled, they save their gasoline. Ah well, we can’t have everything, that’s not democratic.