It is time to think out of the box regarding our transport problems, particularly the carrying capacity of EDSA which is way overburdened.
The Department of Science and Technology has come up with a hybrid bus/train that uses rails that can be put up on each side of EDSA for mass conveyance of passengers in an orderly and timely way. The hybrid/bus or train uses rubber tires, easily available motor batteries and other specs that can readily be achieved here and deliver the purpose for which the vehicle is meant — transport people quickly, on time and in a comfortable fashion. With the partnership of the light rail transit traveling above and under the center, the private vehicles can have more space in the middle. And if the mass transport improves on this artery, the public will be attracted to use public transportation more and relieve some of the private vehicle congestion on EDSA. So, the DOST hybrid train/bus deserves serious study and a common sense look-over.
It seems Cebu is ahead of Manila in thinking out of the box for mass transport. They have a proposed bus system that follows a direct path alongside streets and in effect works like a train with scheduled stops and no obstacles on its designated path. If I am not mistaken, Cebu is now arranging for the financing of this mode of public transport and should in time have it installed and running. This system has been initiated and successfully used in Bogota, Colombia by a far-seeing local government.
The above will not solve traffic problems that have become a burden today because of lack of vision, planning and common sense yesterday. But it will mitigate and accommodate a majority of those who use public transport in the areas mentioned. Just a little comfort and some efficiency will go a long way to the long-suffering public that uses it.
Moreover, it does seem that there is no way that we can trust the private sector that provides transportation to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and/or get the responsible drivers for these vehicles. The last two accidents on EDSA are just the latest manifestations that no bus company (judging from their track record of accidents) is responsible enough to be trusted. I will not name names but name me one bus company I will give you the poor safety record they have accumulated.
The latest grisly accident, however, was on Shaw Boulevard last week and it involved not a bus company but a ten wheeler and a cargo truck (smaller) with a motorcycle rider as the victim. The ten-wheeler claimed loss of brakes from the time it careened down the flyover across EDSA, a good three blocks away whereupon it hit the cargo truck near the Petron Station at the corner of the road to WackWack Golf Club and in the process hit the unwary motorcyclist from behind throwing him under the wheels of the cargo truck and decapitating him. It was straight out of a horror movie in the heart of urban Manila. It was an accident waiting to happen because of either vehicles are not maintained (if we are to believe the loss of brakes tale which I do not) or reckless driving which is more like it as we see it over and over.
Who owns the ten-wheeler and who is responsible for the kind of driver that brought this accident about? It is time to put some laws regarding ownership responsibility for vehicles that feature in accidents as well as sanction reckless driving by removing licenses from such drivers and keeping the public safe from them.
Which brings me to the JoannaJesh bus company and its obviously unqualified driver who raced with another bus along the EDSA bus lane and at high speed sent the heavy MMDA border barriers flying into the paths of vehicles around. It was a close call with no one fortunately in the path of the flying barriers. The driver turned out to be from Pangasinan as recently as a few weeks before (likely not familiar with Metro Manila streets or traffic conditions), had failed the professional driver’s test three times and lo and behold was given a JoannaJesh passenger bus to drive.
Passengers interviewed stated he was going at high speed, a demon driver to be sure as many of the public bus drivers become either from poor handling by their bus companies (as not being rigorous in qualifying them, in underpaying through the boundary system, long hours without rest, etc) or for being original bad drivers beyond remedy. Someone has to take responsibility for this state of affairs and the ultimate responsibility-bearer is the employer who hires without caring about safety, qualifications, problematic attitudes, working conditions that impact on the public not just his bus.
If the hybrid bus/train system replaces these racing passenger buses, we may have fewer accidents and scares in our streets. A hybrid bus/train system can be controlled as to speed and direction. It would require training drivers which is a chance to start from the ground level for which at the end of the day, they should get the most responsible.
Also, if the DOST provides the hybrid bus/train, it should be a direct government transaction without public bidding and all the shenanigans that these public bids incur. If DOST can do it, give it to them and let us forget foreign suppliers with their arcane systems requiring complicated high maintenance.
This is not the ultimate solution but an interim one that should work well enough until we get our wits together and figure out a master plan for our transport systems city by city and acquire some leaders imbued with common sense to implement them.