Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MMDA's odd-even scheme, biased against the poor

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MMDA's odd-even scheme as implemented only to public utility buses shows MMDA's bias for owners of privately-owned vehicles - bias for the well-off as against the poor who can't afford their own vehicle. Politicians are going for the kill as they pith the transport workers and the commuters. This is very saddening.

Commuters wait for buses during rush hour on Monday after bus operators went on a flash strike to protest a number coding scheme being implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority with a view to reducing traffic congestion. Image Credit: AP (caption and pic lifted here)

If anything, we should be regulating private cars first, with private cars' "road-space-taken" per "person-transported" ratio being way more than that of buses. To prove this, we only need to see that even as the odd-even scheme was applied (setting off a bus strike), traffic was not substantially reduced (see lead paragraph).

It even managed to increase the fares of bus companies which recently had a fare cut due to increasing competition (due to the quantity of buses available). Now, the fares reverted back to higher levels, reducing accessibility to those who are financially challenged. Cheap mobility is a subsequent victim of MMDA's anti-poor policy. Because, really, what will commuters without private vehicles do, ask their vehicle-owner neighbor to car pool? Their only access to their work is public transport, and MMDA is making it more inconvenient (because buses will be more jam-packed) and expensive to use public transport.

THE PROPOSAL: We should be encouraging citizens to use public means of transportation rather than their own cars - it lessens demand (and thus price) of oil, it declogs traffic (because we need less vehicles to transport the same amount of people), and its more environment-friendly (since there are less vehicles around). It even generates income for transport workers because you increase demand for these buses.

Regulation in car procurement should be established, and should be heavily taxed. Singapore did so through their Certificate of Entitlement. The government must then invest heavily in modernizing public transport so they can be convenient for use. A proposal to set up a Long-term Strategic Transportation Strategy is elaborated in this article.

Improvements should be done, of course, like regulating the franchise granted, facilitating a schedule-based transportation system, improving services standards and others. There is also much to change on the protection of transport workers, amid the rapaciousness of bus capitalists forcing drivers to overcompensate in reducing travel time, resulting to increasing frequency in road accidents.

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