(Un)common Sense by James Veloso
(Un)Common Sense

We’re Back To Square One

Jan 13, 2023, 12:14 AM
James Veloso

James Veloso


Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic first struck the country, our transportation sector is still in crisis as ever.

And no, I’m not just talking about the recent fiasco at the country’s air traffic control system that left thousands not just in the Philippines and neighboring countries stranded at airports.

What I am talking about is the continued lack of viable land transport systems, especially in Metro Manila.

Long lines at rail and bus stations are once again the norm. The only difference I could see is that this time, it’s no longer like in the “old normal” where commuters at EDSA would rush to any passing bus like it’s the last free ice-cream truck during rush hour.

Here in Laguna province, jeepney commuters once again had to endure long lines and long waits for commuter jeepneys, and “sabitan” or people hanging on outside jeepneys are a common sight once again.

This was exacerbated by the apparent lack of enthusiasm among transport operators here in the province in the national government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Here in San Pedro City, for example, only those serving the so-called “Upper Villages” have embraced the trend of modern PUVs. Only one modern PUV network (Modern Era Transport) plies the San Pedro-Calamba City route, and services are limited to Robinsons Galleria South.


The government, of course, will point out to the massive infrastructure works under the former Duterte administration’s “Build Build Build” program.

One of these is the southern portion of the much-touted North South Commuter Railway (NSCR) that is expected to link Calamba City to Metro Manila.

But the construction of the South Commuter Rail project is expected to begin only this year, and commuters will fully enjoy the benefits of the NSCR only in 2029 (assuming that all goes well with the project).

What we need now, in my opinion, is a complete reorganization of our mass transport programs and an active encouragement by our local government units for the province’s transport sector to join the PUVMP.

We’ve had had three whole years of lockdowns and restrictions to reorganize our transportation sector like what the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has done with Metro Manila’s transport sector. (As I had said earlier, while the Bus Rationalization system had its flaws, I still believe that the system should be preserved as it represented the first real attempt to rectify the chaotic system of mass transport in Metro Manila.)

Modernizing the province’s transportation sector is not just long overdue – it’s what we need now to alleviate our province’s long-standing commuter woes.

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