Mobility advocates call for better cycling infrastructure and fairer compensation for jeepney drivers in the Philippines | News | Eco-Enterprise
This means less access to mobility for the 27 million people living in and around the capital, since only 11.5% of households in Metro Manila own a carsaid Jedd Ugay, transport economist and spokesperson for Move as One, a 134-member coalition of mobility advocates.
If the supply of public transport is not sufficient to provide essential trips such as the purchase of food and medicine and access to jobs for the majority of Filipinos, the quality of life of these people decreases dramatically.
Jedd Ugay, Transport Economist and Spokesperson, Move as One
“If the supply of public transport is not sufficient to provide essential trips such as buying food and medicine, and accessing jobs for the majority of Filipinos, then the quality of life of these people decreases dramatically.” Ugay told Eco-Business.
The coalition initially offers legislators a $ 2.26 billion stimulus package to improve road infrastructure so more commuters can use public transport instead of private vehicles.
But the national government’s urban mobility budget was reduced to $ 205 million, prompting the coalition to prioritize bike path infrastructure and widening sidewalks for pedestrians.
Metro Manila recently started to set up temporary cycle lanes on part of the main artery of the Philippine capital, Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA). The Department of Transportation said it while searching a budget of US $ 21 million to deploy cycle lanes on the entire EDSA stretch, as well as 644 kilometers of other main roads in the capital region.
In Pasig, one of the most populous cities in Metro Manila, the local government has proven it can increase support for cyclists without having to depend on the national budget.
He has been running a bike-sharing program since April of last year. But since the height of the pandemic in March, the program has been temporarily suspended and the bikes have been allocated to the city government and health workers, according to the Pasig City Transport office.
The suspension of public transport has displaced 45% of workers in the metropolis who depend on public buses and jeepneys. But with the introduction of cycling facilities such as protected lanes and parking lots, the city government noted he expects more people to consider active mobility during the pandemic period.
The city has declared cycling is an essential form of transportation and expects more residents to get around on pedals. Bike repair and maintenance shops, which are normally classified as non-essential and have been closed in other cities, will be allowed to operate during the quarantine.
Ugay said groups Defend frontline workers are pushing for better cycling infrastructure so these workers can protect themselves and others by not taking the bus or train.
However, there have been more frequent reports of cycling-related deaths in the city. For example, a community doctor was hit by a truck on her way to work in April, when a nurse was killed in a hit and run crash just days after buying a new mountain bike in August.
Ugay said bicycle accidents underscore the need for more cycling infrastructure.
Pay drivers a fixed salary
As ridership declines in taxis and jeepneys with more and more people staying at home, Move as One is also pushing for a driver payment system that promotes safer driving habits and doesn’t depend on passenger income.
The majority of jeepneys and taxis in the Philippines operate under the border system, in which drivers rent vehicles, bear fuel and light maintenance costs, and earn money from passenger fares.
In the age of Covid, this is worrying because drivers who follow social distancing rules and put fewer passengers in their vehicles are the losers, Ugay said.
Some cities have a service contract program where operators are not paid by passenger revenues, but by the local government unit or the private entity that subcontracts them.
In the town of Pavia, Iloilo in the Visayas region, the local government pays operators and drivers a kilometer fee to make their journeys instead of the traditional model of collecting payments from passengers, who are mostly workers from health.
Also in the Visayan region, a private company in the city of Danao in Cebu has contracted traditional jeepneys to transport more than 20,000 of its employees to work.
“The city or private entity pays the drivers a fixed salary so that they do not have to depend on the border system where the more passengers the better,” he said.
Electric jeepneys have also been contracted by the towns of Las Piñas and Muntinlupa in Metro Manila to provide free rides to frontliners.
Modern jeeps are equipped with cashless payment transaction equipment where debit cards with a stored value are used for fare payment to eliminate the exchange of cash.
Up to 500 tap cards with a stored value of $ 1 have been given to health workers and government employees, in addition to the free rides they continue to get, said Cyril Aguadera, the company’s sales manager. Australian Solar Star 8 Green Technology Corp, which supplied the electric and solar jeepneys.
An automated ticket collection system is one of the requirements of the country’s utility vehicle modernization plan, so that passengers no longer have to manually hand cash over to the driver.
As part of the modernization plan, e-jeepney drivers receive a fixed salary at least US $ 270 per month, depending on their experience. While this is less than the US $ 750 that drivers could earn in a good month under the border system, they do enjoy employment-related benefits such as overtime, social security, housing and health insurance.
Currently, border system drivers keep whatever they collect in fares, having paid around US $ 18 per day to rent a jeepney.