Affordable transportation up to gov’t, not private sector
After failing in its obligation to provide mass transport utilities, the government is now trying to foist the deceptive public utility vehicle modernization program, which does not address the issue of accessible, safe, and affordable transportation for all. We support the stand of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide or Piston that this is not the solution to our country’s mass transportation problem.
Immediate alternatives. Without a clear plan for a mass transport solution for urban centers and rural areas, the government should instead support and subsidize informal public transport alternatives like the jeepneys that have taken up the slack. The government should not burden small drivers and operators with expensive alternatives and financing schemes, and should instead replace their vehicles with minimal or at no-cost to them.
Such a palit-jeep program will directly benefit drivers and small operators, and the commuting public as a whole. It will also make the rehabilitation and uptake of new technologies faster instead of putting the burden on the already impoverished jeepney drivers.
The government should make available maintenance and repair shops to upgrade current vehicles while new replacements are brought in. Instead of forcing them to enter into the fleet management system making them vulnerable to corporate capture, government should make it optional for single driver and operators.
Long-term solutions. Decades of state abandonment in building a mass transport system for the country have led to the emergence of an informal public transport system including jeepneys, tricycles, taxis, motorcycles and even transport network vehicle services such as Uber and Grab. These informal modes of transport have been providing transportation services for most of our riding public. Government’s decades of conflicting roadmaps and policies on developing mass transport, coupled with treacherous privatization schemes of the existing systems (e.g. MRT/LRT) have resulted in the situation that we are in.
A mass transportation system is crucial in setting up a dynamic and industrial economy as it serves multiple linkages. As a public utility, the government has the obligation to provide efficient and affordable transport services to the people that will facilitate daily activities and support economic production. It is urgent that the government sees itself as the main provider of transport services and has a comprehensive transportation plan that includes roles for the informal public transport sector.
CLENG JULVE, campaign officer, Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
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