By ATTY. GREGORIO LARRAZABAL
These past few weeks, there has been considerable attention on the further deteriorating state of public transportation in Metro Manila. It takes less time to fly to Cebu or Davao City, then it takes to cross the metropolis. In several instances, people who bring their loved ones or friends to the airport arrive back in the house AFTER their loved ones have landed in their destination.
Last week I received an email from one such individual who uses public transportation to get to work. I’m sharing below the individuals’ experience, so we can have a better understanding of what people in Metro Manila endure almost on a daily basis:
Dear Atty. Goyo,
Let me share with you a glimpse of the ordinary Filipino employees’ ordeal in making it to the office on-time (and in one piece). The daily commute by means of public transportation averages from 3-4 hours.
Three to Four hours of commute: For most of us with an 8:00 am jobs, one should be up by around 3:30 am. For one hour, some would attend to their personal and family’s needs. Some may still eat with their families, while some leave the house having no breakfast at all.
Long lines are often the scenario, or, people are all over the place strategically waiting for “rogue” jeepney drivers who do not want to pick up passengers in designated terminals. It is a matter of stamina and endurance in running after the jeepneys and buses. If one has no patience to put up with these, one has to book from ride-hailing apps which definitely would mean additional expenses and a reduction to one’s daily pay. Some would, in fact, walk to the nearest bus stop/place where they can comfortably embark as most passengers are bound to get off therein.
Assuming you managed to get a ride, commuters suffer further from rude drivers, the latter’s rough driving skills (hard braking and sudden accelerations), overcrowded/way over the prescribed passenger capacity making it a really uncomfortable ride.
There is no telling when one will get caught in traffic or when to avoid it. It’s always “rush hour.”
Finally, you arrive at the office, you are late, and tired. Some would even get deductions and memo for being tardy. Some per company policies would treat the employee’s attendance as half-day only.
It’s five o’clock. Go home. Commute. And, tomorrow, just repeat everything.
Six to eight hours of unproductive hours. Hours which could have been spent with families and personal improvement. There’s no longer a work-life balance.
If there’s only an alternative where we will not rely too much on public transportation. If only there’s an efficient, safe, reliable, and environment-friendly alternative.
Why not ride a bike?
If only lawmakers and the government would find ways to encourage people to use bikes. If only the government can assure the people of the cyclists’ safety, security, build cyclist-friendly infrastructures, and to educate those who drive their gas-fed vehicles to respect them, the transportation problems may somehow be addressed.
The first thing that was aghast at was the fact that it takes about 3-4 hours ONE WAY to get to work for thousands of people in Metro Manila. ONE WAY. In a week, that means people would have wasted THIRTY HOURS just to get to work and back home. In a month, ONE HUNDERED TWENTY HOURS would have been wasted by the office worker. In a year, that person would have wasted One Thousand Five Hundred Sixty (1,560) Hours! That’s equivalent to about Sixty Five DAYS!! That’s about two months of the whole year.. WASTED.. That can’t stay that way. It CAN’T be allowed to stay that way.
I remember the old cartoon show, Wacky Races, and two antagonists in the show: Dick Dastardly and Muttley. When Dick Dastardly was at his wits end, he would shout at Muttley “Muttley!! Do something! Do anything!!” I’m sure that’s how countless of Filipinos would say these days. The clamor for something to be done to help ease the daily burden of the everyday Filipino. The plea for something to be done. But also the empathy for those who just have to grin and bear it.
Another point raised was riding a bicycle to work. I’ve done it several times. Next week, I’ll share some ideas on how to commute to work, using a bicycle.