I decided to travel to the office by bus today and as a consequence I arrived one hour late for work. At 7:30, I was out of the house and in a bus expecting to reach the office at 9. Instead, I arrived close to 10am. While on the bus (and obviously late), I asked myself "Did I make the right decision by taking the bus instead of the car?" and "If two choices were given me: go by bus or by car, would I choose the bus for my daily commute again?"
On the one hand, taking the bus versus driving my car to work provides many benefits:
- Somebody else does the driving (you feel almost "chauffeured") so say goodbye to driving stress
- It's a cheap way to travel; only P35 (USD0.74) from Fairview to Ortigas, which is about 20 kilometers, in an aircon bus
- No more worries about where to park
- Save on parking fees and fuel
- It feels good to know I am contributing less air pollutants and carbon emissions by riding mass transit
- It's a good place to watch and observe people. I sat beside a girl who was putting on her make up and snipping her nails with a nail cutter!
- If the bus driver drives smoothly, I can plan my day and write my "to do" list
But my goodness, why does the bus ride in Metro Manila take too long?! Of course, I can leave the house much earlier to allow for traffic. But, no, that's just not right. Spending two hours in traffic means 40 hours a month, 480 hours a year, and 9600 hours in 20 years spent in traffic! That's about 400 days of precious time I could spend on more important things. And that's just one way - from the house to the office! Taking the car could save me 30 minutes to an hour per way if I avoid traffic on the main roads.
Lest we lose the bus riding public to private cars, improvements must be made to the bus service. Let's avoid that people who decide to take the bus regret their decision. Let's find ways to cut short the bus riding time. Why not implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system similar to the Transmilenio in Bogota, Colombia? Let's work with the bus companies, say through a Green Bus Initiative, to get them to provide non-smoky buses, good service, and a safe and pleasant bus-riding experience to the public.
Sure, I'll still choose to ride a non-smoke belching bus in Metro Manila. I'll be wiser next time and combine a bus ride to get to EDSA with an MRT ride along EDSA. Thank goodness for the "women only" coaches in the MRT --- now that's a good customer friendly idea! We need similar ideas to save the bus system!