Saturday, September 12, 2015

Two Miles, Two Hours, Traffic

Throwback post from September 3, 2010....It is now 2015, five years after but the same problem persists in Metro Manila.  :-(

I sensed that my son was annoyed when I got home Friday evening when he told me “Mommy, you always get home late!” Oh-oh, I know my son has every bit of reason to feel that way since all our schedules had been affected. I told him about the traffic dilemma that I had to go through just to get home, that made him shift his mood.

This is the fourth day since the end of August that I experienced being stuck in a traffic jam ‘(~_~)’. My usual twenty minutes travel time from the office to my house had been prolonged to almost two hours. Imagine the 600% increase in my travel time! If only the 600% could add up to my daily wage to buy time for my kids who were waiting for me at home. Ahh… I really can feel that time is not just gold, it is more than gold! What an agonizing hour being stuck in the middle of the road while thinking of another missed dinner with my family.  There is no doubt my sleepy kids were anxiously waiting for me. Nothing much I can do but to bear each tangled homeward-bound episode of my life and ponder on things that I observed such as ….

It is rainy season here in the Philippines, the heavy downpour brings on heavier traffic either because of flooding where cars could be stalled or because drivers are just understandably cautious and drive at slower pace as the road tend to be much slippery or flooded.

The “ber” months (September-December) is the season for mall-wide sales thus more shopaholic people converge in one place and that is where heavier traffic can be noted. Choke points are usually at those places where there are malls and night markets where public utility buses and jeeps carelessly park to pick up passengers. Whether the traffic light is red or green, nobody seems to care. The driver only cares to get more passengers and people only cares to get home after a tiring shopping day.

Since Christmastime is just around the corner, business is likely to be booming and one indicator is again, heavy traffic. If you happen to passed through roads nearby the air or sea ports, you might notice a queue of twenty or forty foot container vans or delivery trucks that almost occupied the whole stretch of road. How you would wish to have a flying car if you happen to tail behind a long truck as it would be impossible to overtake in a bumper to bumper traffic. Booming business is good but heavy traffic is no good at all with all those hours that had been wasted and spent unproductively and all those carbon emission that cars left behind.

So while I was stuck there, my thoughts brought me into analyzing things further; what a hard life it is for those who are earning from driving and caught in a traffic mess. I can’t help but be disappointed at their predicament. A public utility jeep (PUJ) driver who travels on an eight kilometer return trip usually takes only twenty minutes for each round that should give him ideally at least three trips an hour. If he would be caught in a traffic jam for an hour on his one way trip that would make his return trip up to 70 minutes and that translates to only about eight trips for say a ten hour trip schedule. A jeep usually transports a maximum of sixteen people for seven pesos fare per person on a one way trip that should give him PHP 224.00 on his return trip. Ideally they could be earning as much as PHP 1792 in a day even if they would be caught in heavy traffic. But sadly, that seems to be just a wishful thinking because (1) most drivers do not own the vehicle, they usually rent it from jeep operators amounting to six hundred to maybe more than a thousand pesos depending on the number of hours they would be using the vehicle (2) Since there are too many jeep plying the same route, aside from traffic, they would also be spending some minutes in terminal queues waiting for passengers thus their trip schedule might not be maximized (3) there is no guarantee that the jeep would be fully packed with passengers for its entire trip, the usual peak time are during rush hours when students and office workers go to work and when they return home, and even if it would be full, there is no assurance that all passengers will pay the PHP 7.00 fare. (4) If the situation gets really bad such as their route is badly affected with flood, they have no choice but to cancel their trip and that means nothing to bring home to their family.

With that notion, there could be different scenario by which their story carried on, and I hate to think how a bad situation could bring out the worst in somebody’s persona. Too hard life for some and only compassion and understanding can drive us through traffic and a bad-tempered driver.