MenagerieTales of public transportation scams
Tales of public transportation scams
March 28, 2012
March 28, 2012

Heads up, commuter!

Step out of the University gates, and you will encounter a plethora of transportation modes. Jeepneys, cabs and pedicabs cover the streets of Taft and if you consider travelling by road too mainstream, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) is always there for the commuting Lasallian’s convenience.

It is, however, necessary that a student employs constant vigilance the very moment he or she steps out of campus, because as soon as one is off campus, danger follows.

The thought of a safe ride in public transportation creeps in. Fear waits for the perfect time to strike, more particularly when a student becomes complacent or worse, distracted.

The threat of being in danger is always present in all modes of transportation. This makes commuting a daunting task.

Fellow Lasallians share their experiences in encountering dangers in riding several modes of transportation.

Pedicab Increase

Pedicabs are present everywhere outside the campus, with overly enthusiastic drivers. Finding a pedicab is an easy task– the driver finds you. Pedicabs are convenient and accessible, but riding one can pose problems. A passenger is secluded as soon as he or she sits on the cramped and uncomfortable passenger seat.

He remains in that position, vulnerable to unexpected dangers on the street. What he should be more wary of, however, are the subtle scams drivers employ to earn more. In some cases, students have been victims of overpricing. An honorable transaction, done before the actual ride, is made whenever the driver and the passenger agree on a certain price. Upon reaching the destination, however, some pedicab drivers demand a higher sum, cancelling the earlier negotiation.  Business student Jerome* shares his experience.

“I rode a pedicab from Quirino station to Andrew Building since I was late for my morning class and it was raining,” Jerome shared. “We agreed at the price of Php 40, but when we got to the building, the driver asked me for Php 50 instead.”

The business student explained that the driver demanded a raise for two reasons – it was raining and the road was off-condition. “I was outraged with his blatant act and instead of falling prey to his ‘dirty’ method, I gave him exactly Php 40 and hurriedly stormed off inside the building.”

Train Bound

LRT Line 1 is perhaps one of the most convenient modes of transportation for DLSU commuters. The train usually provides fast service; it has a highly functional air-conditioning system; and it has interesting pieces of posted poetry. One must not, however, lull into a false sense of security within LRT premises. Falling in line inconspicuously among all the other commuters are swift-handed thieves and touchy maniacs. Sophomore student Kim* was a victim of theft.

The particular incident happened at around six in the evening, after Kim’s class ended. She was riding inside the women’s section of LRT 1, Roosevelt side. “The train station was packed with people. Everything seemed quite normal until I noticed that an old lady was eyeing me,” Kim shared. “I did not mind her since I thought that she could not harm me – she cannot even harm herself.”

When the train arrived, she rode it even though it was almost full. The sophomore student noticed that the old lady hurriedly climbed the train and kept gazing at her.

 “Again, I did not mind her. What validated my suspicion, however, was when the lady went out at Quirino station, which was just a stop over from the Vito Cruz. I checked my bag and my pockets; thankfully, my wallet was completely safe in my pocket.”

Kim, however, discovered that her bag was loosely open. “I rummaged through my bag and my mobile phone was missing. I checked my bag and pockets again, but to no avail. I was sure I placed my mobile phone in the bag,” Kim quipped. “My phone was stolen and I could only have that old lady to blame.”

Taxi Meter

Riding a taxi is like riding your own car with a chauffeur – well, at least for the duration of the trip. For a Php 40 flat rate and an extra Php 3.50 for every succeeding kilometer, the taxi offers passengers a comfortable seat, some private space, and even quirky tales from cab drivers.

Taxi commuters, like pedicab passengers, however, may find themselves deceived/harassed by overpricing cab drivers. The more irritating problem, Management student Lloyd* exclaimed, is the unregulated calibrating machines that will compute a higher fare charge.

“It was around two in the morning; I took a cab from Makati to take me home to Taguig. The cab, quite depreciated, was driven by a chatty driver about five years my senior,” Llloyd shared. “I entertained his conversation to keep me awake when I noticed that the calibrating machine was raising the fare at a faster rate.”                                         Lloyd added that at a normal pace the Makati-Taguig trip costs him only Php 150. “We were only half-way through the trip when the machine spiked at Php 150. When we were in the Taguig area, the fare summed at Php 250.”

Lloyd asked the driver to drop him at the Baranggay Hall. “I reported a blotter for the incident,” the Management student continued, “and did not pay for the excess charge.  I am now cautious of riding taxis and [I] have this predisposition against old cabs.”

 

Jeepney Scheme

With only an Aguinaldo and two Rizal pesos, a student can take a Jeepney ride around the metro. The cheap price, however, comes at a price as well. A passenger shares the ride with crowding strangers while being equally exposed to pollution outside.

At times, the personalities of these strangers become an agenda for individual caution. The calmest of lambs may sometimes be the most deceiving of wolves. Marketing major Carlos* learned the hard way.

“There were only five passengers inside the jeep that time – I and my friend, two strangers sitting in front of us, and a middle-aged woman. These strangers were teenagers who dressed like us so [that] we had no [way of] knowing they had a scam to pull off,” narrated Carlos.

The Marketing major further detailed that when they were almost at their destination, one of the strangers intentionally dropped coins. “We felt obligated to help the stranger collect his coins. Little did we know that his partner already snatched my friend’s wallet, which was supposedly placed in her jean’s back pocket. We did not notice since we were busy helping his partner. ”

When Carlos and his friends got out of the vehicle, one of the strangers handed the wallet. “We thought that the stranger found the wallet on the floor. We even thanked him. Later, we noticed that the wallet was thinner; the strangers stole my friend’s cash. It was a deceitful sleight of hands.”

Different Perspective

The experiences narrated above are the perspectives of actual victims. Advertising major Cat* had her experience. This time, she was an eye witness to the actual crime.

Cat was riding a jeepney with four passengers on a particular night. “I transferred from a bus ride and was so tired that I fell asleep. After a few minutes, I woke up to a terrified scream from one of the lady passengers,” started Cat.

The Advertising major was surprised at the sight of two men in black shirts declaring a hold-up, a knife was pointing on the side of the lady passenger. The girl addressed a plea to the thieves, asking them to let her keep her phone SIM card.

“The traffic was stuck in red light. The guys had just stolen the girl’s phone. I was cautious I might be next. I wanted to fight back – a fist, my high heels were my options for self-defence. Fortunately, the thieves left after they stole the girl’s mobile phone.”

The girl immediately moved and sat beside Cat. “She looked terrified after the incident. I knew her heart was beating faster,” expressed Cat. One of the passengers, an older lady, commented that the victim should have not used mobile phone while inside the jeepney, citing that she used to attract the attention of thieves by wearing flashy jewelry.

The victim extended her fare to the driver, but the driver refused her payment.  “I remembered the driver saying, “huwag na, aral sa iyo ‘yan. (Do not pay me anymore that was a lesson for you)”

*Names changed to protect the identity of the individuals.

Photos by Martin San Diego