A few weeks ago, I went to a work event in Mandaluyong and by the time it ended, it was already rush hour. I tried booking a Grab going home but after five tries, I just decided to ride a bus instead of waiting out the traffic. Despite the fact that my laptop was heavy to lug around in a crowded vehicle, it actually felt great to commute from a far distance again—and pay a fare that’s less than P100.
Back when ride-sharing apps didn’t exist yet, I was very patient with commuting. I don’t just mean within Makati, which is where I live. I would brave the heat, rain, traffic jams, and crowds just to get to various locations in Pasig, Quezon City, and Manila. This lasted until I started in my first job, and Grab was already operational then but I only used the app during emergency “I’m late!” cases.
Many would ask me if it’s a hassle to commute from Makati to wherever. My answer would always be along the lines of “I don’t mind as long as it gets me to my destination safely.” Plus, let’s be real here, it’s cheaper than hailing a cab and booking a Grab or Uber. (RIP, Uber Philippines.) I also developed a decent sense of direction, as well street smarts, because I had to be aware of my surroundings.
So, what changed my mind about commuting via public transportation in the past couple of years? A lot of things, and I’m not using time constraints or the stuff I carry as excuses.
If you’ve seen the news, then you know that the MRT has been literally stopping in its tracks multiple times. So often that news outlets reported how many days the MRT had smooth operations until the next breakdown happens. Because of that, I avoided the train for fear that I might walk along the tracks, especially the elevated ones.
The MRT was the fastest transport system I knew going to the north since it avoided EDSA traffic. If I wanted to ride a bus going the same route, I needed to leave early. The jeepney routes I know going to, let’s say, Quezon City may work despite it taking a bit longer. But these days, traffic jams happen even when it’s not rush hour.
I also want to talk about safety precautions. I’ve elbowed a pervert in the face and caught petty thieves trying to steal from passengers in the jeep. I’ve also called out snatchers who tried to steal my phone. (Thank God for my fast stimuli.) Not to mention that I experienced jumping from the front seat of a moving jeep to escape an armed man.
All of those happened years ago but when you’re given the option to book a car for yourself, you’ll take it, too. Even though it can get expensive.
I still commute when I’m saving money or when I know I have enough time to get from point A to point B. But there really are days when I wished I wasn’t so dependent on ride-sharing services because when I can’t book a ride (my record is booking for three hours), I feel frustrated that I have to stay out until rush hour’s done. This needs to change.
I realized that a huge chunk of my savings often goes to my personal Grab expenses. And if I wanted to go home ASAP, I might as well take the (not-so) scenic route. After all, it’s been a while since I dedicated my time to ride a bus or a train going to far distances.
People might say “You won’t look fresh anymore if you commute.” But hey, that’s what makeup kits are for. It’ll get tiring too and that’s just part of the experience. I sincerely hope, though, that the government improves the public transport system in the country. Just imagine how life would be if the streets were easier to navigate, safer, less congested, and people weren’t as dependent on ride-sharing apps with insufficient number of cars.
I know this isn’t going to happen overnight. So whatever mode of transportation you’re riding right now, I hope you’re having safe travels. (And that you won’t have to walk along the MRT railroad tracks.)
Art by Marian Hukom
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