Go commuter-centric and mass-oriented.
And if we're the majority, then it is only reasonable to expect and to demand Metro-wide and national mass transportation and traffic policies and reforms that favor and prioritize commuters.
We need better Metro-wide and national train systems. And this means we need to take back the private MRT and the semi-private LRT, and to fully revive the PNR.
The MRT public-private partnership is a disaster. The unfair lease agreement with MRT's private owners should be revoked for being too unfair to the people of the Philippines, and for denying the nation a modern, adequate, and future-ready train system for Metro Manila - despite the MRT's private owners getting sovereign guarantees for its loans, billions in lease payments, and fare increases.
The LRT1 public-private partnership should be nipped in the bud before the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium turns LRT1 into the disaster that is the MRT. Besides, why turn over the LRT1 to the private sector when it is reaping profits and is performing better than the MRT?
Government should also stop starving the PNR of the funds needed to modernize the trains and to expand PNR's reach beyond Metro Manila. We must stop the slow death and the seeming planned obsolescence of the PNR. Modernizing and expanding the PNR would be a good investment to promote movement of people and goods from north to south of Metro Manila, and vice versa.
If the trains remain in private control, or are neglected as in the case of the PNR, we will deny ourselves the most efficient mass transport system that any metropolis or country needs.
Big improvements in the LRT, MRT, and the PNR through more public investments, public ownership, modernization, and expansion will benefit everyone: Workers, employees, the unemployed looking for jobs, entrepreneurs, businessmen and tourists too. Let us support the expansion of PNR: From up north in Santiago City to General Santos in the south. Metro trains should have connections to seaports and airports, with carriages both for people and for freight.
After the trains, the most efficient mass transportation means are the buses.
But the privately owned public-utility buses badly need reforms. The government should require that all private fleets be modernized, and their employees be regularized and given benefits, bonuses, and incentives in accordance with the law. Private companies that brazenly violate transport and labor laws should have their permits revoked and their entire fleet seized. The seized fleet could be turned over to local governments to serve local residents.
Private owners of public utility buses, drivers, and conductors should undergo retraining on traffic laws, and violations should be meted heavy penalties.
City governments should also be encouraged to acquire buses and to operate their own bus services to be managed preferably through cooperatives of drivers, conductors, and commuters.
It is not impossible to have actual bus stops and timed arrivals and departures for buses. This will be possible through planning, reorientation, reeducation, and widespread public consultation and law enforcement.
Because buses carry more people, they should be given more lanes along EDSA and other major roads. Public-utility buses should be prioritized in the use of public roads.
Provincial buses should be banned from entering Metro Manila beyond north and south bus terminals. Government should make sure that these terminals are directly connected to lines of city buses and jeepneys.
There should be a long-term plan for the phaseout of jeepneys - in favor of buses - from major national roads, with jeepneys continuing to serve narrower secondary national, city, and provincial roads.
This strategic plan should include the redesign of jeepneys so they will be able to accommodate more passengers, as well as a calibrated switch to more climate-friendly and fuel-efficient engines.
Government, operators, drivers, and commuters have lots to gain from modernizing the jeepneys and the mass transportation system. The process may pose challenges (loss of income) but also opportunities (new jobs) in other parts of the changing system.
TAXIS, FX, AND UV EXPRESS.
The government should crack down on abusive taxi operators who oppress their drivers. They are at the root of the taxi mess in Metro Manila. These operators deny drivers their rights under the unfair "boundary system." As long as this status quo is not changed, we won't see marked improvements in taxi services.
There should be the strictest implementation of taxi rules to protect passengers, and also of labor laws to promote the welfare of taxi drivers.
FX and UV Express services should also be promoted and at the same time regulated to protect passengers.
ROADS AND RELATED INFRASTRUCTURE
The modernization and expansion of the trains is in itself already a huge infrastructure project. But for a metropolis and a nation with a fast-growing population, this won't be enough. We need better and wider roads and new bridges for buses, jeepneys, trucks, and cars.
We need new and bigger airports and seaports to accommodate more passengers and travelers, as well as to facilitate the transport of goods and products exchanged across the country and with the rest of the world.
Finally, traffic. The car-centric Metro Manila traffic policies have failed all of us miserably, even car owners. It is time to replace it with a pro-commuter policy, one that will prioritize public-utility vehicles in the use of all public roads, especially EDSA.
Perhaps, it is time to limit the number of EDSA lanes for private cars while introducing an iron-fist policy on traffic violations for public-utility vehicles that will already be given priority in the use of public roads. Cities, for instance, could introduce zero-car days or hours, to encourage taking public transport, walking, and the use of bicycles.
These are many other pro-commuter proposals to solve the almost-daily Carmageddon and traffic hell we all endure. I'm sure there are more ideas waiting to be heard and tried for airline and ferry passengers and other commuters.
We've tried the car-centric approaches and they all failed. Time to make the majority-commuter population the top priority. Come to think of it, they're the "mass" in mass transportation.
Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog tonyocruz.com
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Opinions and Editorials|
|Date:||Sep 14, 2015|
|Previous Article:||Filipino, Korean defense chiefs seal deal on classified military info.|
|Next Article:||BSP's real estate price index to link different data.|