Transportation woes get worse as rainy season comes

·3 min read
Commuters wear face masks as they queue for transportation in Mandaluyong, Philippines.
Commuters wear face masks against the coronavirus while waiting for transportation in Mandaluyong, Philippines, July 15, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Long lines during rush hours, insufficient public utility vehicles (PUVs), heavy rain, and flooding are only some of the many transportation woes experienced by commuters in Metro Manila.

In a survey conducted by transport advocacy network The Passenger Forum (TPF), 79% of respondents said that their waiting time to get a ride is usually too long while 96% said that the number of PUVs on the road, including jeepneys and buses, is not enough to service commuters.

“This number confirms what we regularly see on the roads and sidewalks especially during rush hours," TPF Convener Primo Morillo said of the survey which covered 100 respondents and was conducted from July 16 to 17.

"Of the remaining 21%, five own a bicycle or e-scooter and another four are neutral or can’t decide whether their waiting is too long or not. With that, we can infer that there is just about 12 percent of commuters who are satisfied with their current waiting time,” Morillo added.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor earlier claimed that available transportation should be “sufficient provided that operators deploy 90% of their PUV units.”

However, the deployment of PUVs has been affected by continuous rounds of fuel price hikes and slow to no rollout of payouts for Libreng Sakay drivers and workers.

Meanwhile, the TPF survey also found that:

  • 97% of commuters want more trains and train lines

  • 96% believe that our sidewalks are cramped and narrow

  • 93% prefer more infrastructure for commuter protection such as waiting sheds and integrated terminals

  • 88% desire interconnectivity of various transport modes and routes.

Heavy rain and flooding only worsen the current state of Metro commuters.

Heavy rain and flooding

Parts of Metro Manila have been experiencing flash floods after a heavy downpour as the rainy season comes.

Some roads are left unpassable, affecting commuters waiting for rides to their homes, with some opting to walk home.

Earlier, engineer and urban transport expert Rene Santiago said that traffic in the region still remains unsolved as the government deals with ‘backlogs of necessary infrastructure.’

"There is an effort but the traditional solution of more infrastructure did not do it because the implementation is very slow and we have a backlog of necessary infrastructure not built for the last four decades," Santiago said in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

"Our capacity to add infrastructure is very slow compared to the growth in traffic… We simply cannot cope with it," he added.

Meanwhile, transport expert and urban planner Robert Siy said that the Duterte administration should have focused more on the commuters’ welfare rather than the number of projects implemented, which were mostly infrastructures part of Duterte’s so-called ‘Build, Build, Build.’

“We have been in a transportation crisis for many years. [The] government should be tracking and reporting regularly outcome indicators like commuters’ travel time, queuing/waiting time, and travel cost so that its efforts are directed at improving those indicators,” Siy said.

Commuters are still facing worse transportation woes despite the Philippines nearing P13 trillion in debt, which grew partly due to the Duterte administration’s allocation of funds for infrastructure.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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