• Bumpy ride on rugged roads

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    What the hell is happening to our transport system? Whatever mode we try, it’s been getting worse each day.

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    It is not just the Metro Rail Transit (Line 3:North Avenue to EDSA-Taft), but also the Light Rail Transit (Line 1: Roosevelt to Baclaran), and LRT 2 (Line 2: C.M. Recto to Santolan). The buses, taxis, jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are just as problematic and as risky to take.

    Commuting in Metro Manila has become more miserable. The major infrastructure projects that the government has started to construct are not to be blamed for all these. Incompetent people who are supposed to be in charge just seem to be all over the place.

    It is unfair to lay the blame only on the present administration for the breakdown in public transport services. It is the result of years of neglect, corruption, and incompetence.

    Isn’t it surprising that while mass transport systems are messed up, nobody gets sacked for incompetence and efficiency?

    It is just utterly disgusting that as we ordinary mortals pay more taxes, the more we suffer from deteriorated public services.

    Take the bus and you run the risk of getting robbed or injured in an accident. Recently, the number of casualties in vehicular accidents involving public buses has been increasing. Robbers and pickpockets also abound in jeepneys, especially when passengers fall asleep as traffic flow crawls through the Metro’s rugged roads.

    It is a waste of too much time to travel for two to three hours from home in Quezon City to Intramuros, Manila, and for the same length of time going back. Four to six hours on the road in one day is also physically taxing in a highly polluted environment like Metro Manila’s. It seriously affects one’s productivity and efficiency both at work and at home.

    It is not right to blame commuters if we cannot afford to buy a car and have a driver so that we don’t have to squeeze our way into the buses and LRT or MRT coaches. We cannot afford to buy even a second hand car because one third of our monthly income automatically goes to the government, and whatever we buy with the remaining two-thirds are also subject to government taxes.

    Our household budget becomes tighter as prices of basic goods increase. Yet, we hardly feel that government is working for us to see to it that public utility companies are not overcharging us with. The problems with the poor quality of government services have been there for many years. It just seems to be getting far worse these days.

    Perhaps, we are not poor enough to feel the government presence in our daily lives. Neither are we rich enough to have a business of our own and be able to evade and avoid paying the correct amount of taxes so that we will have extra budget for little luxuries and won’t have to take taking public transport to commute from home to work and back.

    I fully commiserate with the commuters. I am one of the hundreds of thousands who take the tricycle, jeepney, bus, LRT or MRT, and taxi to work and back. I line up under the rain or the sun for my turn to take a ride.

    A few weeks ago, I took the MRT from Ayala station in Makati. Upon reaching Shaw boulevard station in Mandaluyong, all passengers were asked to get off because the train had mechanical problems. It was a rush hour so it was chaotic at the platform as passengers waited for the next train to arrive. I got to squeeze myself in on the fifth train that arrived at the station.

    Three weeks ago, the LRT 1 train I took from Roosevelt Avenue was running very slowly until all passengers were asked to get off at R. Papa station because the train was defective. It was 11am and I was running late for my appointment in Manila, and it could take several minutes to get inside another train.

    I decided to just take a cab to Malate but not one was in sight after about five minutes of waiting. So, I just took a jeepney that crawled for about an hour from R. Papa to Pedro Gil.

    Last week, I thought I was inside a blending machine as the train was horribly shaking until the coaches were at full capacity when it reached the Monumento station.

    I got off at Carriedo station, feeling bruised and nauseated with the shaking of the train and the squeezing later with other passengers.

    Carriedo station is an eerie place for those with a weak heart and body. You have to stay alert against snatchers and pickpockets. The station stinks, particularly the ground level where hawkers and food stall owners throw dirty water from washing anywhere.

    Management of the MRT and LRT claim that both lines have been losing heavily because of the reduced fare rates. But if the lines have been serving 560,000 passengers daily or almost double the original designed capacity of 350,000, then the projected revenues from fares should have been met.

    LRT 1 is designed to transport 560,000 passengers a day but has an actual average ridership of 530,000. LRT 2 has a design capacity of 472,000 passengers but has an actual ridership of 220,000.

    Besides, the government has been subsidizing LRT and MRT with a whopping P75 billion in the last 10 years, or at an average of P7.5 billion a year.

    Based on their 2012 financial records, the LRTA had a deficit of P4.71 billion, while MRT-3’s stood at P7.25 billion.

    Perhaps, when Congress resumes sessions in May, it would serve the public interest if the lawmakers would conduct a thorough investigation of the MRT and LRT’s financial records, including the salaries and allowances or honoraria of their executives.

    The competence of government appointees there should likewise be scrutinized so that those who are not delivering properly could be told to pack up.

    Taxpayers deserve and should demand efficient public services.

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