It was expected that jeepney operators and drivers would howl in collective protest after the city government announced its plan to upgrade the city’s public transport system by replacing jeepneys with buses. Who wouldn’t militate against a move that will mean economic dislocation and possibly hunger for many families?
Yet, while the fate of the would-be displaced operators and drivers looms as an urgent concern, it must not override the more pressing need of declogging traffic and giving the riding public a comfortable and efficient mass transport system. Any change exacts a quid pro quo without which things will remain as they are. Come to think of it, the kutseros who lost their jobs with the entry of motorized vehicles probably also posed the question “What will happen to us.”
Over and above the issue of displacing a particular segment of the population is the need to address pollution, fuel consumption efficiency, traffic congestion and the safety of commuters. Being vintage vehicles dating back to World War II, one may wonder how jeepneys pass the mandatory emission tests. Besides, a single bus carries at least three times more passengers than a jeepney, saving both space and fuel on the streets.
Granting the bus system is implemented according to plan, even people who now prefer using private vehicles will opt instead to commute their way to work and other destinations in the city. That will mean lesser cars on the streets – and lesser emissions too.
This is not to say government may ignore the plight of people who depend on the jeepneys for livelihood. On the contrary, it must provide them viable alternatives as the city transitions toward a transport system that caters to the demand of rapid urbanization.