February 25, 2024

The jeepney modernization program instituted by the government is finally showing signs of success. It is making significant changes in the convenience by which the riding public are ferried from one destination to the other.
There are less of the outdated and polluting jeepneys on the streets and the coach-like mini-buses that are being introduced in its stead is improving the quality of air that we breathe and is brightening the atmosphere of the city.
Besides, the mini-buses are better organized, roomy and are far more comfortable than the “gorio-type” jeepneys that have dominated our streets for decades. The seats of these modern day transportation are softer and the air-conditioning is most satisfying. In riding and in alighting, paying riders feel safer and are assured they get their money’s worth.
In all likelihood, this kind of ride may even be sturdier and will last longer than its predecessor.
However, there is one problem. While the public utility that is introduced to cater to the riding public is ideal to the need of the citizenry, the quality of the drivers that operate these vehicles leave much to be desired.
I guess it is because these drivers are the same drivers who have too long driven the old jeepneys and have acquired a habit of skirting the traffic rules and regulations. Hence, it is a sort of changing the vehicle but retaining the old habit of driving it.
It was aimed that with the modernization of the vehicles being plied by drivers, it will likewise improve their condition. With the improvement of their condition is the foresight that they may act in a more disciplined way and render their public duties more carefully and consciously. But no.
Some or most of them retained their old driving habits such that it did not help that they are more aesthetic than in their previous condition.
I have seen many mini-bus drivers stop in places where loading and unloading are not allowed. I have witnessed some of them over-speeding trying to outdo each other in picking up passengers. There are among them who remain discourteous. They overload their buses during peak hours and some do not give change.
These violations are minor compared to the accidents that happen on the streets. Nonetheless, it magnifies the inefficiency of our transportation procedure in granting licenses to drivers.
Drivers of public utility vehicles are as much professionals as lawyers, doctors, and engineers. They owe as much courtesy and respect to their customers in the same manner that doctors and lawyers owe their patients and clients. It is for this reason that the operation of a transportation franchise is regulated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
If we allow these drivers to get away with infractions, no matter how minor, they are violating the very basic norm of public service.
Thence, what good will the modernization program do if the only thing being modernized is the vehicle?
More importantly, the kind of service and the attitude of the drivers must also be improved, by leaps and bounds. Only then can we say that we have truly modernized our transportation industry.