Majority of the student population of De La Salle University (DLSU) is from Metro Manila or nearby provinces. Many utilize public transportation to get to Taft Avenue, on the other hand, a good number of students bring their cars to school.
Surviving Taft Avenue
For those commuting to and from DLSU, the LRT and MRT train systems are usually the preferred choice. However, with the recent train mishaps, some Lasallians had to look for other ways to reach DLSU. There are several Taft-bound bus and jeepney routes that are available to commuters.
When students take alternate commuting routes, their safety is at risk as soon as they alight their chosen transportation means. Most jeepneys and buses do not stop at the proper loading and unloading areas and cars don’t give way to pedestrians even if the stoplight is red. If they do stop, they usually cross over the pedestrian lane, forcing commuters and pedestrians to walk through the maze of cars.
Although there are guards stationed at each pedestrian lane in front of the campus, many vehicles ignore their signals and rush past them. Paolo Gonzalez (II, BS-CHE) attests that the guards manage the flow of traffic along Taft Ave. well, but despite their efforts, not all drivers are law-abiding.
Incidents of pickpocketing, kidnapping, and the like, also put Lasallians at risk when traversing Taft Ave., however, pedestrians dread rain the most. A quick shower could turn Taft Ave. into a shallow river. To avoid getting wet, pedestrians snake through the sidewalks and roads carefully avoiding puddles. Pedicab drivers usually seize this opportunity to charge over PHP 100 to transport people from the Br. Andrew Gonazalez Hall to St. La Salle Hall’s South Gate. “Taft Ave. should seriously have a better drainage system, or [they should] at least clean the roads more,” Trish Penson (II, BS-PSY) states.
Driving in a maze
A different set of issues face drivers who zig-zag their way through the streets of Manila. Although one benefits from a shorter travel time and the comfort of privacy, student drivers pay up to P800 a day to cover the expenses of toll, parking, and gas.
Reckless drivers, pedicabs, and pedestrians add to the challenges one encounters when driving. “They do everything that shouldn’t be legal,” Rafael Lagdameo (III, BS-APC), comments when asked about public transportation drivers. By suddenly stopping in the middle of the street, several buses and jeepneys create a safety hazard to other drivers who must quickly step on the brakes to avoid accidents.
Some pedestrians also cross the road without any regard towards the lanes and stoplights designated for them. The roads are practically an obstacle course for drivers who need to avoid pedestrians, while the latter have the same sentiments towards cars.
Recently, most of the U-turn slots in front of DLSU have been blocked. Without a notice from the local government or DLSU’s Security and Safety Office (SSO), many students had to find a new route to get to the campus. Ian Barlis (III, BS-MKT) shares that the rerouting just worsened the traffic situation along Taft Ave.
Responsibility of the University
In an e-mail interview, Dionisio Escarez, SSO director, explains that the University constantly communicates with the police station and the barangay that the campus belongs to regarding safety and security issues along Taft Ave.
To ensure the safety of Lasallians that walk along Taft Ave., the SSO exercises its jurisdiction over the immediate vicinity along the said road. DLSU’s security guards also maintain visibility even beyond the campus’ perimeters.
For the months of May and June this year, there have been three hold-ups, two vehicular accidents, and one incident of snatching, pickpocketing, salisi, budol-budol, and traffic altercation each, according to Escarez.
Working with others
The SSO is not alone in its mission of maintaining peace and order along Taft Ave. The Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB) and the Manila Police Department (MPD) work alongside DLSU in maintaining safety and order in the immediate vicinity of the Taft campus through Task Force Safe School. St. Scholastica College and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) are also part of the task force.
When asked how the MPD ensures the safety and security of people and vehicles along Taft Ave., a police officer stationed near one of DLSU’s entrances shares that they make sure that there is always police presence along Taft Ave.
“DLSU and DLS-CSB have a lot of guards who help us with our responsibility of ensuring the safety of people and cars that pass through Taft Ave. There are also civilian guards who assist the uniformed ones. We meet up for alignment almost every day and we conduct patrols,” says the police officer in Filipino.
He also mentions that one of the factors that cause traffic in the area are students who double-park. The officer adds that police visibility almost always keeps the crime rates along Taft Ave. at zero.
Lasallians are also responsible with keeping the peace and order along Taft Ave. Student drivers and pedestrians should comply with traffic rules, at the minimum. The University and the local government have provided ways to improve the traffic situation along Taft Ave. with the installation of stoplights, pedestrian lanes, and the presence of pedestrian lane marshals. Having the will to follow rules and to be vigilant at all times are just some of the ways students could prevent safety risks from happening to them.