More than just giving up “wang-wang,” government officials should try taking public transportation every now and then to truly feel the plight of commuters, netizens said.
A petition posted via online portal Change.org pushed President Benigno Aquino III to require all government officials to take public transit at least once a month.
The new rule should apply even to the high-ranking members of the Aquino government, including Malacañang staff and senior cabinet officials, the petition said.
“The only way government officials will understand the plight of commuters is if they themselves take public transit regularly,” said the petition filed by Dinna Dayao.
This, as she claimed that while the government is hell-bent on easing traffic congestion in Metro Manila, it is sidestepping the improvement of public transportation.
“We keep building roads and flyovers that only encourage more people to drive their cars. But we don’t invest in facilities that make it easier for transit riders to get from point A to point B,” Dayao said.
To improve public transport, Dayao pushed for “comfortable bus, jeep, and train stops, wide sidewalks and well-designed walkways that connect the different modes of transport.”
Some 80 percent of Metro Manila residents, the petition claimed, suffer from the “dismal state of public transit” which “doesn’t allow them mobility with safety and civility.”
“They suffer long lines, squeeze into jam-packed trains and rickety buses and jeeps, and endure long travel times,” Dayao said in her petition.
The petition comes on the heels of the opening of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s new Integrated Bus Terminal in Paranaque City.
Buses plying the Cavite-Manila route may now only travel up to the Paranaque terminal, a move MMDA said would improve the traffic situation along major thoroughfares.
The new scheme has been faced with complaints from bus operators, drivers and commuters, however, as its launch left passengers stranded in the vicinity of the new terminal.
Commuters also earlier slammed the Manila City government after it banned several buses from entering its major roads, affecting passengers passing through the country’s capital.
Cavite resident Daphni Casas, who was among the first to sign the petition requiring officials to take public transport, said she supports the call “para maintindihan ng mga government officials ang hinaing ng masa (so that officials may understand the public clamor).”
“How can they put together ‘sensible’ transport policies and translate it into programs and projects if they are clueless what it is like to be a commuter in Metro Manila?” Paranaque resident Mark Noman Maca said.
U.S.-based Lisa Lumbao, for her part, highlighted the link between the traffic problem and the public transport situation: “The only solution to traffic problems is improving mass transit!”
But Manila resident Marlon Co thinks the policy the petition is pushing for is too lenient. “Once a month wouldn’t even describe the public’s suffering,” he said.