My thoughts on public transportation in the Philippines

Actually used this for a reflection paper but I wanted to share my opinion on the said issue, plus I edited a few parts. Here it goes…

Automobiles are costly monstrosities that induce headaches. They present many problems to car owners such as time wasted due to the constant search for parking spaces, rise of gasoline prices, the high chance of being stuck in that ghastly EDSA traffic every day, et cetera. There are people who do not experience these problems because they possess no cars, as much as they would want one. They lead more adventurous lives, as they sprint from Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations to get to their destinations. I am one of those people. Unfortunately, I have but a students’ permit, as pathetic as that sounds for a 19-year-old, and our cars and drivers are not always at my disposal. So I journey on, prudently wanting to save my money on other objects instead of decidedly high taxi fares.

I have been to almost every point of Metro Manila because of errands for my voluntary internships, and I have done so using all forms of public transportation. I know very well how different the culture is among the three railway transit lines including the type of people one encounters and the number of passengers present on each train at different times of the day. If there was one thing I have noticed in this country we call our homeland, it would be the lack of maintenance and discipline in public transportation, especially in the railway transits.

The foot traffic in the morning is terrible, albeit better than the traffic on the roads. During 7 to 10 am, there are hundreds of people cramming up for hours in each station, just to get a quick ride to work or school. There are not enough train cars to accommodate everyone and the pushing and shoving of fellow passengers does not ease the trip one bit. You get to your workplace sweaty, reeky, and weary, even before the real work begins. Going home is the same story: stuck in line for what seems like hours after a tiring workday, and crushed to a pulp for the remainder of the trip home.

There are two evident problems on the part of the employees in the train stations and the riders. The first problem is that crowd control is out of hand, thus the brutality one experiences in train rides. Comparing our crowd with that in foreign countries, one can see it is obvious that the Filipino people have no discipline and respect for one another. Instead of lining up civilly and allowing others to go first, a rat race is ensued. It is not entirely the fault of the riders, the employees in the stations must be able to regulate the number of people on each train ride and each car. Much like the LRT2 culture, the disabled, pregnant, and elderly must be separated from the rest since their vulnerable states cannot sustain the rough play that others are capable of enduring. The safety of all passengers and the efficiency of their travel must be prioritized.

The second problem is the lack of train cars, as impossible as that may already sound. On average, the estimated interval between trains is about 1-5 minutes, which is a short waiting period, but given there are too many people trying to get on each train, is not enough to speed things up. The only way ro solve this problem is to commission more train cars but this, too, seems impossible because our country has bigger giants to face before solving transportation issues. As suggested before, the government has to raise the fares in order to raise funds for more train cars. Doubling the price would not be so the end of the world. Although it would affect those from the lower socioeconomic classes, it must be done to ensure the travel convenience and protection of all.

On the public relations front of this transportation fiasco, what can be controlled is the education and discipline of the masses. Public service announcements should be made to give people an example to follow on proper conduct. If Sizzling Pepper Steak can have an annoying video on repeat, showing their customers how to cook their food, then surely railway management can drop a few Smart Communications ads to arrange a short video for its passengers to watch while waiting for the next train. The video could be sort of a how-to on train-riding etiquette and would feature prominent figures. Security could afford to tighten up a notch and cut-off at a certain passenger count so the trains will not be too crowded.

The decision to raise transport fees would not be a crowd favorite, to say the least, but you simply cannot please everyone. What we can do is to properly inform everyone as to why these changes are being made with a breakdown of manufacturing and maintenance fees on the old and new train cars. Get a quote from the Department of Transportation and Communication and you are all set to do damage with the press. Certain things must be done for the betterment of all instead of a few. Over time, people will start to get used to the rules enforced upon them and this will become a norm. All they need is a little push.