This paratransport called the jeepney, plying the streets of the metro, once coined the King of the Road, a symbol of Filipino creativity and a tourist attraction, and have become part of Philippine culture, are now the symbol of backward progress, the plague of the city and the menace to the riding public, motorists, pedestrians and everybody. Whoever said that once the jeepneys of Metro Manila meet the taxis of New York, it will be the end of the world! Why ride the jeepney? Because, every working Juan de la Cruz knows that he has no choice. There are buses and taxis alright, but the jeepney provides an inexpensive means of transport. Besides, walking, even for a few blocks, is not a thing for Juan.
The Fast and the Furious. These chariots of fire not only blaze the streets with their powerful engines, they also inch their way through traffic slicing here and there mindless of other motorists or pedestrians. Of course, this is understandably because of every jeepney driver’s hot pursuit of his “boundary.” Yes people, the rush is all about the boundary. After that every cent would be their day’s earnings. So the basic rule is: speed to live! A dozen of these speedmaniacs is enough to spread havoc on the streets. There are hundreds of them from the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue to Quiapo alone!
Traffic. Let this serve as a warning to Manilans. The intersection of Quirino Avenue and Singalong Street in Malate is a death zone. I have yet to know an accident prone area deadlier than this crossroad. Unsurprisingly, the jeepneys are the ones involved most often. And the scary ratio is almost one fatality for every collision in this area. Too many times these accidents could be attributed to one thing: beating the red light. Jeepney drivers loves to beat the red light as much as they love to stop on a green light. First, the red light. Everybody does beat red lights. Nobody wants a moment in a traffic. But as the master of this stuff that he is, the jeepney driver gambles with the passengers lives. Im talking about a fully loaded passenger jeepney here. Because, in contrast, a half full or empty jeepney will slow down as he approach the intersection, waiting for the red light to turn on, blocking everyone behind who are in haste, so he could place himself up front during stops because this is the best opportunity to fill the vehicle with passengers. This simple ploy has a butterfly effect in congesting the streets all the more. Second, the practice of not moving even when the green lights are on. They pick passengers whenever they want to, wherever they want to, on the sides, corner or middle of the street. A couple of seconds halt is enough to create a massive buildup of vehicles. Funny thing is these jeepney drivers no longer budge to the din of blowing horns or swearing faces. Worse, they’ll even swear back at you!
The Gladiators. One lazy afternoon, Remedios corner Singalong street. I woke up to the sound of loud voices and honking cars. Stared out the window and found two jeepney drivers on a shouting match, both armed with iron rods and at the brink of self destruction. Their vehicles slanted across the street blocking the traffic flow. In a matter of seconds one bloody fight would ensue. An altercation must have happened somewhere along the road and ended right down below my window. Someone must’ve wronged someone. These are the mighty gladiators of the streets.
Jeepney drivers top my list of hotheads on the road. Their belief seems to be like that of the mountain goat, wherever they may roam is their own. The road is their territory. Never cross their path. Dont delay. Yield! Otherwise you’ll be in for some unpleasant situation. Switch to high level of tolerance when it comes to these bullies on the road. Its pointless dealing with their irrationale minds. Sad but true.
The Incovenient Truth. Here’s what StuartXchange says about this public transportation:
It is devoid of passenger comforts. Depending on length, it can load from 18 to 30 passengers, the drivers usually waiting for a full load before going his way. And on a full load, it’s a can of sardines, shoulder-unto-armpit, back-unto-chest, shoulder-unto-shoulder, elbow-unto-hipbone, unavoidable thigh-on-thigh intimacy, butts accommodating forward to the seat’s edge as another squooshes back to mold into tight spaces. It’s a disparate mix of the ‘masa’ forced into sharing a humid olfactory and respiratory environ teeming with the composite scents of body odors, fading perfurmery, and the more than occasional passenger reeking of alcohol, his head drifting into a slumberous rest on a fellow passenger’s shoulder. The open windows welcome the miasma of urban ground ozone pollution and freshly brewed and belched smoky black clouds of diesel fumes spewed out by buses and jeepneys alike. For the masa, it is a daily sufferance in a cramped space that tests the limits of jeepney etiquette. And for some men, voyeur opportunities, eyeballs rolling and roving for beaver shots and cleavage gazing, while women desperately clutch and tug on to their blouses and hemlines.
My humble illustration below shows just one of the many malpractices of these road pests and the instant result. I’d like to keep it as the “Vee-line Theory.”
As of this writing, an item by Mr. Nestor Cuartero entitled “The Sound of Jeepneys” appeared this morning in the Panorama. Talks about the fact on how these public utility transports contribute largely to the pestering noise pollution in the metro. Mr. Cuartero really nailed it. And, as of this writing, these jeepney drivers are demanding a 2+ peso increase in passenger fare due to the oil price hike. A week or so ago jeepney fares increased by 1 peso. It rises like a mercury!