Now that we’re transitioning back to in-person operations, it is an eyesore to witness how we are also transitioning back to commuting. As someone who covers a lot of events for the publication, I travel from one place to another around Metro Manila. Moreover, as a student, I can only afford to commute by jeepney, Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Metro Rail Transit (MRT). But considering time constraints, safety, availability, traffic, and my own exhaustion, I sometimes resort to Angkas, Joyride, or Grab for a ride to and from home in hopes of a more convenient and faster option.
Fortunately, the location of our home is accessible enough to reach via several modes of transportation. However, not all the time these are as available and convenient as I’d need to reach my desired destination. I recall when I had to cover a UAAP basketball game at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion, I had to book a motorcycle as it could take me there in less than 30 minutes. I don’t consider booking a car because I cannot afford its pricey fare. If I had chosen to travel both via MRT 3 and LRT 2, it would take approximately an hour and 30 minutes—plus the walking time to terminal stations—which would eat up a lot of my time and energy. Even then, I found myself struggling to book a ride. It eventually took me more than 30 minutes to secure one, a feat that lasted just as long as my travel time.
I know this experience wasn’t a stroke of bad luck. Every day, people share their experiences concerning their transportation struggles, especially since the Christmas season began. More people are attending events, funerals, and birthdays, and especially going back to their homes to spend time with family and friends for the holidays. They mentioned that because of the pricey fares of ride-hailing applications, they tried to hail taxis instead. But to their surprise, the taxi drivers reportedly would haggle for an unreasonable price despite the close proximity of the destination.
Journalist Atom Araullo shared his sentiments via Twitter on December 9, narrating a harrowing experience booking and commuting for a ride home. “Just arrived at the airport from an overseas trip. No coupon taxis, no metered taxis, no Grab. Wala rin tayong mga bus at tren dito. Basically kung wala kang sundo, you’re dead. It’s been an hour and counting. This is what a broken [transportation] system looks like”, he wrote.
(We also don’t have buses and trains here. Basically, if you don’t have someone to pick you up, you’re dead.)
This begs us to ask: why do these applications take a lot of time to pick riders, and why are taxi drivers allowed to demand an outrageous amount of fare from desperate commuters even for a short-range trip? For taxi drivers, it seems that since these applications are taking over their roles, they choose to make their fares higher to compensate for the lack of passengers. However, I believe this further contradicts acquiring riders if they opt to make the fare higher. This will give more reason for passengers to refuse to take taxis.
A netizen on Reddit also shared that upon talking to an Angkas driver, they said that they turn their application off when rush hour starts so that they can attract riders to consider their habal-habal (tandem riding) services which have higher rates that go unmonitored.
Looking at this unfortunate situation, we can see both drivers and riders suffer as victims of the transportation system of our country.
We opt to book from these applications because of the promise of their convenience and faster travel. We can choose to ride a jeepney, train, or bus, but come rush hour, these modes of transportation are packed with passengers. Even then, not all of these vehicles are accessible right away, some commuters have to walk long distances to get to ride one of these.
It is sad to say that despite the presence of public transportation, people who can afford to acquire cars will resort to this as a solution to their transportation problem. A car-centric country will not help this issue. We lack walkable cities. Most commuters waste a lot of time waiting in long lines after a long day of work. Some get tremendously tired after opting to walk a time-consuming road instead of waiting for a ride home. This issue drains money, energy, and time which affects the overall productivity and progress of our commuters. Aside from the issue of transportation, there is also traffic. So what will now happen in the coming year for us Filipinos?
Another year, another struggle.