Cebuanos brace for pre-pandemic traffic as jeepneys return to city streets

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio, Morexette Marie Erram - Multimedia Reporters - CDN Digital | November 08,2020 - 11:41 AM
Cebuanos brace for pre-pandemic traffic as traditional jeeps return

CDN Digital 2019 File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – With the planned return of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) to Cebu City streets this November, both passengers and motorists are already preparing for the inevitable – traffic congestion.

But Councilor James Cuenco, the head of Cebu City’s Jeepney Task Force, said that the city government has already devised some plans to cushion the effect of having more vehicles on city streets.

He said that the city government is determined to already allow the resumption of operation of traditional jeepneys starting the second week of November after almost nine months under lockdown.

The Cebu City Jeepney Task Force, the committee formed to oversee the return of the PUJs also called the “king of the roads,” said that by Wednesday, November 11, some jeepneys may already be seen plying the streets in at least 18 identified routes.

READ: Cebu City open for talks with nearby LGUs for jeepney entry

CDN Digital asked commuters and motorists alike for their opinion on the scheduled reoperation of traditional jeepneys in Cebu City.

Public Transport

John Abelgas, a 23-year-old resident of Barangay Buhisan, commutes daily to attend his morning classes at the regional office of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that is located in Barangay Luz.

He said that there remains a lack in public transportation even if the city has already been placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) since September.

READ: Most Cebuano netizens prefer modern jeepneys over traditional ones

For Abelgas, taking a bus ride to the TESDA-7 office has given him convenience and a sense of safety in comparison with taking PUJ rides before the pandemic hit.  For him, the redeployment of PUJs to augment the existing bus routes is no longer necessary.

Should the city government decide to increase public transportation, Abelgas said that he would rather see more buses on city streets rather than allowing the reoperation of PUJs.

“Para nako dili na kailangan ibalik ang mga jeep kay okay raman ang bus. Safe siya kay walay maka sulod nga street children or naay motibo diha sa bus kay ma bantayan man dayun sa kundoktor,” said Abelgas.

(For me, there is no need to redeploy the jeepneys because taking bus rides are okay. These are safer because no street children or lawless elements are allowed to get in because the dispatcher is always there.)

Similarly, Jing Tan, a 25-year-old house renter from Barangay Pardo, said that buses provide comfort during travels because many of these are air-conditioned.

However, Tan raised her concern over the practice of some Cebuanos who would want to disembark at their preferred areas instead of the designated bus stops.

Tan said there is also a need to reeducate some bus drivers who are now beginning to act like many PUJ drivers, “dropping off anywhere along the road, not stopping at the proper bus stop, and sometimes during the rush hour take more passengers than they should.”

“Kailangan lang gyod gurog disiplina ang mga drivers pud kay mogara man usahay. (The drivers need to be taught discipline because sometimes they break rules).  Still, if we bring back the jeep, it will just return to what we used to before. Traffic, nya daghang aksidente (many accidents could happen),” she added.

But Liza Mijares thinks otherwise.  She said that having the traditional jeepneys back on Cebu City streets could shorten travel time for commuters like her who reside outside the province’s capital.

Mijares, 54, is a teacher in a private school in Cebu City. Since they opened the school year in October, she has been taking taxi rides to and from their school and during her home visits to check on her students and collect their modules, which is more costly.

“Kung mag bus pud ko, daghan kaayo mag-atang. Malangan sad ka ug sakay. Kung mabalik na ang jeep, may nalang naay options ang mga pasahero,” she explained.

(If I take a bus ride, I will have to be in a queue with the other passengers. This takes time. With the return of jeepneys, passengers will already be given an option.)

Congestion

They may differ in opinion, but the three commuters who were interviewed by CDN Digital share the opinion that the addition of more public transport into city streets is expected to result in congestion problems.

“Muexpect gyud ta nga mutraffic balik kay daghan na kaayo sakyanan sa dalan,” Mijares said.

(We should expect congested roads with more vehicles plying the city streets.)

READ: Cebu City to LTFRB-7: Allow traditional jeeps to return

Ricardo, a 38-year-old taxi driver from Barangay Mambaling, said that the reoperation of traditional PUJs next week is expected to congested roads in Cebu City.

“Karun gani nga wala pay jeep, unya kadaghanan ani private, unsa nalang kaha if mubalik na sila. Musamot gyud tingale,” said Ricardo.

(Traffic congestion is already a problem now that mostly private vehicles can be seen on city streets.  This is expected to worsen with the addition of PUJs.)

Pearl Cabiluna, 26, also expressed health concerns with the resumption of PUJ operations.

Cabiluna said she used to commute from Cebu City to Mandaue City before the pandemic hit.  With the scarcity of public transport, she now takes her car to work.

“Murag kog kita sa current situation nga wala nay jeep, less gyod ang traffic. Commuter ko before sa ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and dili gyod mag observe sa social distancing ang mga jeep, murag walay pandemic. If mobalik sila, mobalik na pud ang traffic, daghang tawo manggawas,” she said.

(Fewer vehicles can be seen on city streets at present.  I used to be a commuter before the ECQ and I have noticed that social distancing is never observed when taking PUJ rides as if we are not on a pandemic. If PUJs are allowed to resume operations, this will increase traffic volume and more people will now be seen going out of their homes.)

Taxi driver Jo Maribago, a 30-year-old resident of Barangay Kasambagan, is asking local authorities to ensure strict implementation of traffic rules to minimize bottlenecks.

Traffic Mitigation

Cuenco said that the city government will take into consideration the concerns raised by the public on the planned resumption of operation of traditional jeepneys.

He said that the task force has crafted guidelines to ensure that jeepney drivers would follow the health protocols and traffic regulations.

“We will impose traffic mitigation measures. For example, we will strictly implement the loading and unloading areas. We will also do away with on-street parking so that the streets where jeepneys will pass will be free from any obstructions. Ipasuspend nato ang mga pay parking (We will seek the suspension of pay parking implementation),” said Cuenco.

Cuenco said that jeepney drivers who are caught violating traffic rules and the health protocols will be suspended immediately under the city’s one-strike policy.

To address concerns on road congestion, Cuenco said they will have to redirect especially the bigger buses back to its original routes in Cebu province to decongest city streets.

“When the jeepneys will be rolled out, it will not mean a return of the past o katong naandan (or what it used to be). We will improve the system. We will make it better,” said Cuenco. / dcb

 

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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City PUJs, Cebuanos brace for pre-pandemic traffic as traditional jeeps return, jeeps in Cebu City, return of old jeeps in Cebu City, traffic in Cebu City

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