by Jullie Y. Daza
And so the madness begins again. Another year, another start. Another year of traffic in starts and stops.
What lessons we learned as the days raced toward a brand-new year! Let MMDA and Waze scare folks off EDSA with their forecasts of Carmageddon, resulting in traffic flowing like a river – an exaggeration, but better than an aggravation caused by gridlocks. Empty out the city by declaring a long weekend; in 2018, let’s have longer long weekends! As often as possible, declare no school, no classes, by breaking the Monday-to-Friday sked with Wednesday off (like some cities in Europe), also impose a moratorium on the construction of big schools within city limits. Let there be a ban on malls of a certain size in Metro Manila.
We always kick off a new year with cliches, the same tired promises worded differently. A new year, a new you. How realistic are your New Year’s resolutions? What else is new, when new implies change and change is painful. Exhibit A: the jeepney as the symbol of age fighting change.
While commuters dream of a fleet of clean, handsome, “modernized” jeepneys serving them, operators and drivers are up in arms. They cannot afford to replace their battle-tested units, especially since they suspect it’s big business that will profit from the massacre of the workhorse that’s been around since the last century. The Duterte government should remember that not even Marcos could force the jeepney operators and drivers to bend to his will. Martial Law or not, the plan to phase out jeepneys – stubborn, smoke-belching, traffic-causing – with a modern (in those days) Light Railway Transit system was a failure and an embarrassment.
Marcos then, Duterte now. . . Fence-sitters are rubbing their hands, eager to see who will win this test of wills. How far will Malacañang go to keep the peace and the riding public unhampered by strikes? DOTr Secretary Art Tugade should heed Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando’s suggestion to buy the jeepneys from their owners and distribute those that are still in working condition to the provinces, where public transportation is woefully inadequate. That way, the jeepney will live on, its owners will be compensated and they’ll have money to own the new model.