A trending tweet by GMA News anchor Atom Araullo on December 9 highlighted anew the sorry state of the country’s public transport system, particularly the difficulty of getting a ride at the country’s gateway—the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Araullo tweeted: “Just arrived at the airport from an overseas trip. No coupon taxis, no metered taxis, no Grab. Wala rin tayong mga bus at tren dito. Basically kung wala kang sundo, you’re dead. It’s been an hour and counting. This is what a broken transpo system looks like.”
“Update: Was able to book Grab after a little less than 2 hours. Setting the pick up location to the departures area (T2) worked,” he wrote. “Just have to crawl through traffic. I feel bad for those lined up for taxis, only few pass by. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!”
Sadly, the Naia is one of the poorly connected airports not only in Asia but in the world as far as public transportation is concerned. This is a shame because our Asean neighbors like Singapore, Malaysia, and even Hong Kong have express trains linking their airports to their respective city centers.
The Philippines is notorious for excruciating traffic conditions and long commutes because it lags many neighboring countries in infrastructure development. Our transportation authorities know that improvement in public transportation generates positive impact, including higher economic growth.
When President Marcos picked Secretary Jaime Bautista, a former PAL president, to head the Department of Transportation (DOTr), people had high hopes that the seasoned frontliner in the transport industry can help improve the country’s public transportation mess.
During the turnover of leadership at the DOTr office in Clark, Bautista said that the country’s transportation system will be transformed and elevated to global standards under the administration of President Marcos.
He said: “As discussed during my initial meeting with President Bongbong, we will transform the Philippine transport industry and elevate it to global standards. We will focus our efforts on moving passengers and goods that use our roads, airports, seaports, and railways.”
Bautista said the department would ensure to provide “accessible, affordable, comfortable, and safe transport service throughout the country” through the use of its transport systems.
In performing his duties as department chief, Bautista sought the help of officials and employees in addressing issues concerning the transportation sector. “As a newcomer to this office, I anticipate the usual hesitation to any changes in the way you do things. I promise to listen to your suggestions. I have always been a good listener. I will not pretend to have all the solutions. With many daunting tasks ahead of us, I ask for your help in making this administration succeed in solving the seemingly insurmountable transport concerns of Filipinos,” he said, addressing DOTr officials and employees.
Secretary Bautista said he is keen on making a difference at the DOTr. Now that somebody has pointed out the need for adequate, reliable and safe transportation at Naia, we hope that the agency will give topmost priority to this urgent need. Filipinos are known for our hospitality. Lack of transportation at the country’s gateway can give the Philippines a bad reputation.