February 24, 2017, 2:40 am
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Modernizing the jeepney

IT must be one chauffeur-driven wealthy politician who came up with the idea to phase out jeepneys 15-years old–which is almost all jeepneys. If a jeepney keeps breaking down, the operator and driver themselves will get fed up and junk the vehicle. 

The chauffeur-driven snoots demand to modernize our public transport system by requiring the jeepney operators to come up with P7 Million to buy a jeepney franchise from the government. A franchise would require the operator to have a fleet of 20 new units by 2018 or 40 units by 2019.

What the commuting public prefers: for the government to require jeepney makers to do safer and better environmentally-constructed jeepneys and spare parts; 650,000 jeepney drivers not to lose their livelihood; affordable fares. Making these drivers who make at best P300/day get a loan for P1 million to buy a new jeepney is absurd.

Having lived in and/or visited at least 40 cities around the world, I can praise our existing public transport options as the most passenger-friendly public transport scheme. You cannot make it in any of those cities I know without your own car. Here, you get off one public vehicle, and right there where you are standing stops another public vehicle to take you closer to your destination. There, you walk miles to get a ride.

When my bone doctor cut my driver’s licenses (International, USA, Philippine) in half, I was inconsolable. I have driven for 60 years, having gotten my student permit at age 16. (Always had my own car; never dependent on the husband’s or son’s. How will I survive without my licenses?)

My doctor explained: Your feet nerves are no longer sensitive to accelerator or brakes. If you get killed or kill another while driving, they will find me for allowing you to drive. They will take away my medical license. You wouldn’t want that to happen. So started my dependence on Philippine public vehicles which I now find a convenience. 

From Alabang outside my condo, a Reinalyn bus (new, clean, aircond) stops to take me through the scenic route along Zapote through Parañaque, cruising along Manila Bay on Roxas Boulevard, to get off at the Cultural Center, Aliw recreation park, and thereabouts (cost: $0.75; in the US, that 1 hour ride would cost $12). Orange colored CCP commute vans will take me ($.08) to cross major parallel streets, where without any wait, a jeepney will will stop to pick me for Old Manila of the Quiapo/Binondo area for great shopping and Chinese cuisine. Or to the opposite direction, to Makati.

After a day of malling at Makati Shopping Center and Glorietta, I take a Sta. Cruz bus behind nearby Dusit Hotel (clean, aircond, with Wifi) to Los Baños. Where I am dropped off at the LB Municipio is a waiting line of tricycles, and for $.20 would give me the kilometer ride to my lakeshore home. Elsewhere, where tricycles are unknown, a taxi would have charged $7 for that short trip. It is mostly this convenient-- just familiarize the routes where you want to go.

I drove comfortably with beach zorries—so do jeepney drivers. Pretentious to require jeepney drivers to wear patent shoes. No need for linen seat covers. No need for white-shirted, sweet smelling jeepney drivers. We just want to get from A to B safely. The finicky ones can rent a car.

***
Dahliaspillera@yahoo.com
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