Daily commuting for Cavite residents working or studying in Metro Manila has become more agonizing in the past couple of weeks, many of them spending hours in long passenger queues just to get to their destination.
A Facebook post by Dennis Buckly, a 28-year-old Bacoor resident who works in Pasay City, painted a clear picture of the daily struggle, resulting in his post becoming viral.
"7AM ang pasok ko, pero gumigising ako ng quarter to 4, at umaalis ng quarter to 5. Quarter to 5, nag-aabang na ako sa may tapat ng Shell Molino, sa labas mismo ngBarangay namin," he said.
Snagging a ride at a PUV, whether a van or a jeepney, isn't always a sure thing, according to Dennis, who sometimes had to walk far just to chance upon a PUV with available seats.
"Pero hindi pa rin 'yun guarantee na may masasakyan ako, kasi nga ayaw bumyahe ng mga drivers, dahil huhulihin sila. Mapa-jeep, mapa-van, wala. It doesn’t matter how early you wake up anymore," he said.
If coming to work was a struggle, so is coming home. Dennis said it usually takes him and his fellow Caviteño passengers three to four hours before they can squeeze into a van that would finally ferry them home, leaving them very little free time at home.
"Kumikirot puso ko everytime nakikita ko 'yung mukha nilang pagod at ang katawan nilang pabagsak na, hindi dahil sa work, kung hindi dahil walang masakyan," Dennis said of his fellow passengers.
Crackdown vs. colorums
Sought for comment, Bacoor City's Traffic Office said the national government's crackdown on colorum PUVs may have greatly contributed to the problem on limited PUVs available for commuters.
“In the past couple of weeks, sunod-sunod ang operations ng national government agencies tulad ng I-ACT (Inter-Agency Council on Traffic) at HPG (Highway Patrol Group) sa mga colorum na van,” said Adel Udarbe, Traffic Operations Officer III of the Bacoor City Traffic Office.
He said colorum drivers who will be apprehended will be fined up to P200,000 and their vehicle impounded.
Udarbe added that as much as the local traffic office wants to provide the Metro Manila-bound passengers enough transport vans, the grant of franchises was beyond their mandate and that they cannot tolerate operations of colorum vehicles.
On the other hand, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is already taking measures to address the issue.
"DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark de Leon is already in talks with UV Express groups, and they expressed willingness to comply with the PUV Modernization Program," a DOTr spokesperson said.
According to Usec. De Leon, the UV Express groups are asking for subsidy similar to those provided to jeepney drivers. He said that he will study this suggestion vis-a- vis the available budget.
More consultations needed
Senator Grace Poe, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the problem shows a disconnect between the DOTr and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and stakeholders in the public transport sector.
"Ipinapaalala natin sa kanila na ang mga pasahero, mananakay at operators at drivers ang dapat sentro ng kanilang mandato — ang mapadali, mapabilis at maging kaaya-aya ang pagbiyahe ng ating mga kababayan," Poe told GMA News Online.
Poe acknowledged that there was a problem in rationalizing the routes and franchises being given out by the LTFRB.
"Marami dapat ang PUVs na seserbisyo sa mga matataong ruta. DOTr and LTFRB cannot possibly properly grant proper number of franchises in proper areas without truly consulting the riding public and the PUVs involved," she added. —KBK, GMA News