Friday, July 12, 2013

From Motorist to Commuter: 3 Conditions to Convert Me to Use Public Transportation

MMDA recently proposed a new car coding scheme that would increase the car ban from once to twice a week. No wonder Dan Brown saw Manila as the gate to hell, despite its being purportedly Catholic (but that's another story). As expected, motorists protested this and cursed MMDA.

I actually like to take public transit. But in Manila, I hate taking the bus and train. Buses stop everywhere and it takes forever for me to get to Point B. Taking the train is also hell, especially at rush hour in MRT. Some stations have no proper ventilation and there are no schedules that would help me plan my commute. I am sure this is why motorists would rather pay high fuel prices, risk the hypertensive-inducing stress of driving, and incur expensive maintenance fees for owning cars, than take the bus or train.

I think that people like me would be willing to cooperate with MMDA, so long as commuting becomes painless in Manila. And for that, we need these systems-based solutions to be in place.

First, improve the bus transit system. Rid the streets of illegal buses. Revoke licenses of  notorious violators (including those who do not give monthly salaries to drivers and conductors). Enforce schedules and routes. Implement a bus rapid transit (BRT) system which would include making the stations comfortable and able to big enough to accommodate the volume of passengers.

Second, improve the light rail system. Decommission the small carriages of MRT and replace them with large cars that could take on the volume of passengers at EDSA. Connect MRT to the LRT line. Implement the single ticketing system among the three lines and also with buses.

Third, improve the security in the mass transit systems. Self explanatory.

Sort these things out and you will convert me and others like me. I enjoy commuting actually. Trains and bus schedules are the first thing I study when I am in a new city. I am easy to convert. So MMDA, instead of looking only at the symptoms, for once, deal with the root causes of why we favor motoring over commuting.

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