Jeepney Jumble

The ongoing traffic woes in Iloilo City highlight a complex tug-of-war between city-based and provincial jeepney operators. Ordinary commuters find themselves caught in the middle, suffering the consequences of a system that seems to prioritize regulation over practicality.

Since the implementation of Iloilo City’s enhanced local public transport route plan (ELPTRP), both city and provincial jeepney drivers have been at loggerheads, each vying for a piece of the commuting pie.

City-based jeepney drivers argue that their limited numbers should be allowed to operate within the city to maximize their earnings, especially after investing heavily in modern jeeps.

Meanwhile, provincial jeepneys are eager to enter the city to capture a share of the bustling urban commuter market, which inevitably puts them in direct competition with city operators.

The recent decision to allow 40 percent of “first town” jeepneys into the city during peak hours (6:00-9:00 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.) and to reduce this to 25 percent during off-peak times offers a temporary respite.

This compromise came after an intense three-hour dialogue, revising an earlier more restrictive policy. However, this solution is merely a Band-Aid on a larger wound.

Iloilo City’s traffic managers have pointed fingers at provincial jeepneys for exacerbating congestion. However, studies and observable facts show that private cars outnumber public utility jeepneys by a ratio of 1 to 4. This critical detail is often overlooked in the debate, skewing public perception and policy direction.

The ripple effects of these policies are felt most acutely by the commuters. They recounted the inconvenience of having to switch multiple modes of transport just to reach his workplace in the city. They also lamented the long waits and added financial burden of having to resort to expensive alternatives like taxis.

Amid these struggles, the first day of a two-day transport holiday underscored the deep-seated frustrations among jeepney drivers. The city’s promise to review the system and possibly include a 15% buffer of jeepney units to ease passenger flow during peak hours did little to pacify the aggrieved drivers.

The provincial government has advocated for the needs of these first town commuters, highlighting that areas like Santa Barbara, Oton, and Pavia serve as vital links to the city.

The 40 percent adjustment is a step in the right direction, but it is clear that a more comprehensive approach is needed. This involves not only revisiting the jeepney allocation but also addressing the underlying issue of private vehicle dominance in city traffic.

Ultimately, the success of Iloilo City’s transport system depends on a balanced approach that considers the needs of all stakeholders. It requires moving beyond finger-pointing and towards collaborative, data-driven solutions. Only then can we hope to see an end to this traffic saga and a more efficient, equitable transportation system for all.

Moving forward, a holistic approach is necessary to resolve Iloilo City’s traffic woes. This involves not only regulating jeepney operations but also addressing the overwhelming presence of private vehicles.

A comprehensive traffic management plan that equally considers all contributors to congestion is essential. Only then can the city hope to alleviate the daily struggle of its commuting populace and ensure a fair playing field for all jeepney operators.

Without a broader perspective that includes all stakeholders, Iloilo City’s traffic saga will continue to frustrate both drivers and passengers alike.

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