The city’s public transportation sector witnessed a fresh light of hope with a new project that provides a solution to the difficulty it has been suffering for many years, and will be able to get out of the present debacle.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNFF) and SafeTravelPH Mobility Innovations Inc. launched Project SUSI (Sustainable, Safe, and Integrated Public Transport Planning) which offers the city government of Puerto Princesa solutions to address the flaws in existing policies among others, in the transportation sector.
During the kick-off of the project, city planning head Engr. Jovenee Sagun stated the need for immediate solutions to the problems of the continuously growing transportation sector.
She said through the collaboration of transport stakeholders and technical assistance from civil society organizations, consultative and participatory engagement with public transport groups, Project SUSI will be a good platform to demonstrate collaborative and participative governance that will lead to a better and efficient transportation plan.
“Nag-increase ang demand for mobility at napapansin din natin na ang car ownership ay pataas din ng pataas ganoon din sa two-wheelers, and this is very telling kung bakit – ibig sabihin hindi efficient ang ating mass transportation system, hindi convenient kaya more people want to own cars kasi nga hindi maasahan ang mass transport system,” Sagun stated.
“Other than under-developed ang public transport system, ito ay dominated din ng tricycles and mayroong overlapping ng ruta ng iba’t-ibang modes of transport resulting to competition,” she said.
Need for change
With the current problems at hand, Sagun underscored the need for transport data to support decision making and in turn policies, to enhance the existing plans for transportation, with the special mention of the need for updating and validating of a local public transport route plan.
She also emphasized the importance of formulating a sound tricycle route plan; the urgent need for institutionalization of Transportation Management Office that will focus primarily on spearheading implementation of transport related programs and projects, and advocate sustainable transport development; and the establishment of transportation information center.
“Hopefully, malaking tulong ang maibigay ng undertakings sa ating Project SUSI,” she said.
Modern innovative solutions
In response, FNFF, a foundation that promotes democracy, human rights, economic freedom, and curbing climate change with its local office in the Philippines focusing on open and digital society, and a social market economy which is also involved in the creation of innovative tools, partnered with SafeTravelPH Mobility Innovations, Inc. for Project SUSI.
FNFF Philippines Project Manager Pearl Mans said transportation is an important aspect in the daily dealings of people so they continue to find innovative ways to help improve the sector.
“We believe that human rights encompass mobility that’s why we support initiatives in transportation,” Mans said, further explaining travelling takes a lot of time and compromises work and school.
“It affects your economic ability and freedom,” she said.
SafeTravelsPH on the other hand develops tools and mechanisms that can be used to provide innovative solutions for the transportation.
Claire Ng, Executive Director of SafeTravelsPH said they want to give local government units (LGU) the capacity to improve public transportation with the use of modern technology.
“We are offering our expertise and knowledge but first, we have to build trust between the government, transport providers and commuters, by co-designing and co-creating systems and measures. Transportation must be safe, comfortable and always available,” Ng explained. Values creation through extensible platform and open science platform with incremental planning and change experiments are also needed, she said.
SafeTravelsPH Project Manager Engr. Erris Samson Sanciangco also explained that one major component of the project is through a monitoring system with the use of an application that can be downloaded to mobile phones. The app which is also available for operators and passengers, can be used monitor how many passengers rode, where they rode and dropped off, and the travel time, which he explained as some sort of geo-tagging.
He said they are currently in the stage of creating a baseline through data gathering, transport network mapping and profiling.
“Aside from the app, a devise sensor can also be installed, which we have actually installed a prototype in one tricycle as an experiment,” he said.
Next to the creation of a baseline will be the actual deployment of SafeTravelPH either through the app or installation of the sensor device, followed by a collaborative planning, and after which, an institutional development that will include drafting of sustainability plan.
Stakeholders from the transport sector, particularly public utility vehicles operators welcomed the new project with open arms, expressing hopes that it will finally bring an end to the problems of the sector.
Federation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (FTODA) President Ernie Lusoc said they will greatly benefit from the project with tricycles being the biggest means of public transportation in the city.
“Welcome development ito hindi lang sa transport kundi pati sa local government kasi may partnership, ibig sabihin may katulong na nag-aaral. Katulad nga ng sinabi, dapat mayroong transport management office kasi kung may problema, walang humaharap, pag may reklamo walang nagma-manage. Sa ngayon wala pa so kanya-kanya lang,” Lusoc explained.
He said the project also brings to light the memorandum issued by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) banning tricycles from plying national highways, and the modernization program for PUVs.
“Ang bottomline nito, pag nag-modernize tayo, siyempre tricycle ang traditional na sakayan natin, wala namang standard yan. Tapos yung multicab, mawawala yan, mababawasan ang mga sasakyan. Once nabawasan, saan mapupunta yung mawawalan ng trabaho? Sana kung makatulong kung mabawasan, magkaroon ng solusyon ang LGU sa mga mawawalan ng kabuhayan,” he lamented.
Striking a balance
Lusoc also mentioned the importance of having a balance between the PUVs and the communters, particularly citing the situation of multicabs that he said seemed to have overcrowded the streets, but does not have a maintained passenger ridership.
He also mentioned the importance of a study to gather necessary data like the number of vehicles needed and its capacity. If there are too much PUVs but few passengers, it would result to lower income and heavier traffic in the streets which creates imbalance.
“Kung nakikita natin ngayon ang sitwasyon, sobra sobra ang mga sasakyan pero rush hour lang napupuno, pagdating ng 9:00-10:00 wala na, tigil na. So dapat balance lang ang sasakyan at yung mga mananakay. Siguro sa pag-aaral na ito, bakasakali mabalanse,” he noted.
Katulad kanina sa umpisa ng meeting, sinabi na yung convenience ng mga pasahero sa transport system natin ay hindi nagiging maayos so anong gagawin nila? Bili na lang ng motorsiklo kasi nga walang masakyan na maayos – dagdag sasakyan sa kalsada. Pero kung maayos ang transport system, kikita ang drivers, hindi mahihirapan ang mga commuters, wala pang traffic sa kalsada,” he said.