You need ‘My Bus’
The unveiling this week of “My Bus” by a consortium led by SM Prime Holdings Inc. is the most recent sign that the private sector can no longer wait as government drags its feet, constantly mired in political infighting. The private sector is finally taking matters into its own hands.
And it’s not just in Cebu that the private sector is investing in what should otherwise have been a government obligation.
For nearly a decade now, the Ayala Group of Companies, the Phinma Group, and SM have been buying schools and colleges not just in Manila but all over the country in a bid to match their manpower needs with the proper educational preparation of their human resources. They have clearly sensed that government is too mired in political self-interest and self-survival. They have seen politicians opening up all these mediocre community colleges, branches of state universities one after another that are there only to provide scholarships to their poor constituents, never mind if the quality of teaching and the delivery of knowledge does not pass the bar (read: no high-tech laboratories, libraries with few or no books at all, not even state-of-the-art computers and computer software, etc.).
I am told that it was in fact private businesses that finally pushed K-12 into the legislative agenda because the country was being left behind by the rest of the world with its moribund 10 years of pre-college education. These huge private businesses, albeit driven also by self-interest and self-survival, saw their businesses down-trending if the corresponding supply of manpower could not match international standards. Thus, the push to finally move this country into the modern world, despite the posturing of some politicians wanting to score some with the “masa” by derailing the inevitable.
Now comes My Cebu, which is set to start operating on November 16. I remember my postgraduate days in Germany in the 1990s. I was riding this type of bus, manufactured by Volvo at the time, driven by elderly women at that, from my boarding house to the university, some eight kilometers away. Equipped with a computer system that forced it to slow down when it was running too fast so that it would never be early on the next bus stop.
If that same system is in place on My Cebu, then Cebuano commuters will finally learn which bus stop to line up and the times they need to be able to ride the bus. I hope that My Bus, being of European vintage and make, will also follow the entire European bus system, which one can also find in Singapore and Hong Kong.
You just cannot wave at the bus and expect it to stop. You have to walk further to a bus stop at specific times of the hour or of the day to be able to ride it.
In short, it should hopefully cause a sea change in the commuting behavior of Cebuanos, who are steeped in two generations of the utterly inefficient jeepney transport system where you just ride and get off wherever you want and at whatever time of the day. It is not behavior that will cause changes in technology, it is technology that will cause changes, to paraphrase Karl Marx. And when technology like My Bus is introduced and follows a proper system of bus stops and commuting times, we hope that those who ride this, no matter if it is on a limited route, will have seen how discipline and time management can work in one’s favor.
Never mind the resistance from these moribund inefficient jeepney drivers. Everyone knows that their days are numbered, but these drivers just refuse to see the writing on the wall. Aided in part by politicians who encourage poverty and ignorance, as if these are the hallmarks of real economic development, instead of finding ways for these drivers to start moving forward and perhaps learn to drive buses like this.
And I hope this is the dawning finally of the real modernization of mass public transport in Cebu. Never mind Manila. That place is hopeless. Let us not follow the capital where they want to have everyone win: trains, tricycles, jeepneys, buses of all kinds, taxis—all on those narrow thoroughfares that they keep on building up, up and away with all these skyways and flyovers.
Cebu has always been known to be a maverick. Let us therefore welcome My Bus and let us all adapt, and for those who cannot, well, you can always get out.
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