Why coasters are better than jeepneys

By: Stephen D. Capillas November 03,2016 - 09:14 PM

The passenger jeepney is probably the most common form of public utility vehicle (PUV) in the streets, and to many commuters it’s the first affordable, viable mass transport option that comes to mind whenever they step out of the house to head off to work or school or both or neither.

The jeepney has been immortalized somewhat in that old song “Manila” by the ’70s band Hotdog with one of its lyrics that go “mga jeepney mong nangliliparan” (your jeepneys that are flying).

Those born in the ’70s and early ’80s including myself can remember a far simpler, gentler time when there were fewer people in the streets and jeepneys and cars had a lot more road space to move around in.

Now we only see traffic congestion and pollution of more people crowding the streets and everyone just trying to make their way through the asphalt roads in order to survive the day.

Traffic and transportation officials in Manila, Cebu and other metropolitan cities around the country are blaming the rising number of privately owned vehicles as a contributing factor to the traffic crisis and, yes, they may have a good point there.

But trying to restrict ownership of vehicles in favor of the existing mass transport system is far from being the solution to the crisis. And the jeepney, which had long been considered an enduring symbol of Filipiniana, is now part of the problem rather than the solution.

I write this in response to a letter sent by Edith Ong to Cebu Daily News a while back in which she suggested that bigger jeepneys be used instead of the antiquated units now plying the streets to fetch commuters in Mandaue City as a solution to the traffic there.

She has a point there, but I would like to offer a counter proposal and suggest that coasters, rather than jeepneys, be used as a mass transport option especially for national roads and highways as well as tourist and commercial destinations like malls, convention centers and stadiums among others in Metro Cebu.

In Cebu City, once the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system goes full blast, jeepneys will be allowed to service feeder or complementary routes which means bringing commuters to BRT terminals where the buses are stationed.

Jeepneys would also probably be allowed to ply other areas that are hopefully not prone to being traffic heavy and bring commuters to their schools and offices not covered by the BRT routes.

But if one can afford it, why not ride a coaster — yes, like those school bus type vehicles that bring commuters to and from Robinsons Place in Fuente to Robinsons Mall in the North Reclamation Area — instead of a jeepney?

I can think of at least three reasons why coasters are better than jeepneys whose advantages lie mostly in its familiarity and its cheaper fare rate (so far). One, coasters are more enclosed so there’s little pollution and little chance of passengers being bothered by mendicants who can easily board a jeepney and beg/sing for alms as well as vendors selling all sorts of food and wares (I understand though that provincial buses allow vendors, but not beggars, inside to sell to passengers).

Two, it’s likely that coasters are airconditioned and a lot of people want airconditioned rides; and three, it can accommodate a lot more passengers than the average jeepney; the biggest jeepney, I’ve heard can accommodate the same number of passengers that a coaster can house but without the airconditioning.

Really, the only advantage the jeepney has is its cheaper fare rate but I have little doubt that a lot of people are willing to pay extra for a comfortable ride especially on a weekend or if they have time and money to spare rather than settle for a dilapidated jeepney that can be boarded by the so-called “carolers” or pickpockets some of whom are said to be in cahoots with some of the jeepney drivers.

To be sure the fare for coasters may be a little cheaper than taxis and unlike jeepneys, the coasters can be outfitted with security cameras both inside and outside so any passenger doing monkey business can be caught on tape and reported by the driver to the police unless of course the driver is involved.

And if these coasters follow a straight pre-determined route with no ill-timed loading and unloading of passengers in the middle of the street like those jeepneys, then their viability as a sound mass transport vehicle is already set.

I know this idea wouldn’t make its way to Metro Cebu’s urban planners and transport czars but it’s still something worth talking about rather than having to listen all day long to militant transport groups and operators who insist on their rights while failing to be accountable and willfully ignorant of the abuses and violations of traffic rules committed by their ranks.

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TAGS: asphalt, BRT, BRT route, Bus Rapid Transit, Cebu, commuter, congestion, Edith Ong, filipiniana, jeepney, Manila, mass transport, metropolitan, metropolitan cities, metropolitan city, pollution, public utility vehicle, PUV, road, road space, roads, traffic, traffic congestion, traffic pollution, transport, transportation

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