Guest Post from our friend Eggay Quesada (Managing Editor — Wheels Philippines, Columnist — Remate and Motoring Correspondent — Manila Times):
Everywhere you go you must have seen tricycles lined up in a commercial space blocking the vacant parking slots allotted for customers of establishments. Sorry, Jeepney. Apparently, while you may have been King of the Road in the past, the tricycle lords it over Philippine streets, and parking spaces nowadays. Over the last weeks, I’ve nursed a mounting frustration over traffic jams caused by unruly tricycle drivers who commandeer their spots on the road, and cause traffic jams. Not only that. Building traffic because private vehicles could not park at the designated spaces because of their blockage. And this seems fine for LGU’s since its been happening for years.
Start a quick, sloppy Google search with the words “tricycles blocking parking spaces,” and you’ll likely come up with at least ten ordinance entries, from up north Urdaneta down south to General Santos. Let’s not get lulled into a false sense of order by the existence of regulations for tricycle parking, though. In reality, the tricycle, too, contributes to barangay and municipal road traffic congestion. There are, after all, at least 658,675 legally registered public conveyance tricycles on Philippine roads as of 2012, and on an already tight road system, traffic and frustration are sure to build up.
Inefficiency both by the drivers and the government. Inch for inch, the tricycle occupies too much vehicular real estate, while carrying too little passenger load. Where roads are long and lonely, as in remote provinces, sure the trike does its bit as human conveyance, but in heavily populated urban centers of activity, without proper management, the trikes can overrun a location, with unwritten permission from its local officials for the simple reason that they are registered voters.
Due to the bantam size of the tricycle, it’s just too easy, I guess, for a like-minded group of tricycle cabbies to form an informal (often illegal) terminal. Anywhere there might be a small space where drivers can line up serves as an informal terminal, regardless of whether this blocks off precious parking space, pedestrian pavement or even actual roads. Add to the formula a weary traffic rule enforcer too frustrated or clueless — or both — to correct the situation and within minutes, you have a de facto informal tricycle terminal, with an attendant monster jam, and just general disorder. Next ingredient in the mix is the average Filipino commuter too lazy or too tired to walk to a proper terminal to catch a ride, or to alight at a designated spot, and instead treats the tricycle as a personal limousine.
But what about the drivers, many of whom learn to ride and drive well before their teenage years, literally on the street. They imbibe the reckless way of drivers before them, and institutionalize daredevil moves as a way of maneuvering through traffic. Weaving left and right through traffic, sudden u-turns, are all par for the course. After all, a conciliatory wave of the hand, a brief salute or head scratching usually lets them off the hook.
Should the tricycle be banished to oblivion forever? In spite of my current impatience with them, I don’t believe so. Granted they are a quiet menace on the road, something like an army of black ants that overwhelm with volume, rather than a painful bite. They do have their place in the transport system, which like almost everything else in our country needs an overhaul to accommodate progress and growth. They serve the needs of residents of farflung barrios who have to travel to a bus or jeepney terminal two or three barangays away, much in the same way they serve the hapless housewife of a middle-class subdivision needing to grab a few things at the neighborhood grocery at high noon when it’s too hot to walk.
How to make it work seems to be the overarching theme here.
The key lies in management: route and franchise planning and licensing for transport and city planning officers, road courtesy training and driving skills for drivers and operators, law enforcement and self-discipline for passengers.
I admire JP Tuason of the Tuason Racing School (TRS). Besides throwing lavish parties, TRS is not only a racing academy after all. He makes use of his knowledge gained here and abroad to contribute to society.
TRS conducts corporate seminars on proper driving and safety. A few of his clients are the patrol drivers of Manila North Tollways Corporation and some bus companies.
But again I go back to my favorite line eversince I started in the beat. We have enough laws. Implementation is what we need! Stop those “illegal settlers”.
Thank you, Mr. Eggay Quesada! Something really has to be done!