Another 23 people dead. Just a few weeks before there were 6 or 7 killed––or was it 12? Who is counting anyway? Because by the time this petition is posted, that figure could easily double. Triple even. No, this is not some killer typhoon or horrific natural disaster we’re talking about; this is far worse…
I’m referring to the grossly irresponsible bus drivers and the heartless companies that employ them. And if this last Skyway accident is not enough reason to completely shut down the privatization of bus companies, then the next accident is no longer the driver’s fault, but the the fault of the people who grant them the license to operate such a barbaric system.
Most, if not all of you, know how I feel about government agencies. But I really feel it is time they took over. Because this time, their lethargy and incompetence will actually benefit us. They will see no reason to speed, cut you off, wait at illegal bus stops simply because they would gain nothing from it.
As it is now, the system is like the hunger games. And still, nothing is done.
Funny, you can’t walk into a mall without getting molested by a security guard at each entry point while having the contents of your bag poked at by a magical wooden stick that would have even the folks at CSI baffled. Heck, let’s not go very far, they stopped selling hammers for crying out loud because of the ‘martilyo gang’. And once you set foot in an airport, it is even worse. But for some reason, not a thing is done about these speeding busses that are used as far more deadly weapons on our roads, despite the fact that if you look at the local figures, bus accidents have claimed or ruined more lives than any terrorist attack has on Philippine soil over the last 10 years. Go ahead, add it up.
And the worst part is I’m only referring to the avoidable ones. If it weren’t for grammatical purposes, I wouldn’t even call them accidents––but it’s pretty hard to get your point across by calling them bus purposefuls.
And the common thread in all of this has been speed––busses racing with one another for passengers, or pride, or ego, or fun, or for some perverse point to prove. And it has got to stop. Bayani Fernando once came out publicly and said there is no speed limit on EDSA, which is both ridiculous and untrue, but honestly, it wouldn’t really matter anyway. We have enough laws. It is enforcement that is gravely lacking.
So let’s be realistic here. Having enforcers manning every single road or highway 24 hours a day would be ideal, but it would take 20 years to get there. Even with the political will to do so. Plus there’s the expense. And I think history has shown that the vermin behind those big vinyl-wrapped steering wheels do not respond well to enforcement anyway, and worse, slip through the cracks of our justice system once captured.
Take the highly publicized case of Martinito Madrid, the Joanna Jesh bus driver who only needed to post 30, 000 pesos bail after smashing into the Mercedes Benz of Dr Francisco Sarabia on EDSA after he lost control of his bus during a race with another bus from the same company. He had a string of prior offenses, and even admitted to being involved in a serious road accident that same year that resulted in him being charged with multiple physical injuries. Yet just a few months later, he rammed his bus into Dr Sarabia’s car with such force that the vehicle burst into flames and burned the doctor to death.
I could go on, of course, but just type in ‘EDSA bus accidents’ into Google and you, too, will lose several weeks of sleep. What I’m getting at is we need more draconian measures. Enough of ‘task force this and task force that’ we just need people that have the balls to make a difference. And if there is anyone in congress or the senate, or anyone who has the capacity to make that difference reading this petition, let’s see which one of you is man enough to try. And if you cannot, have the decency to step down and allow us to vote in someone else who could.
First things first, install mandatory speed limiters on each and every public or private bus in the country. This is not new technology, nor is it expensive, but it could solve over 90 percent of this problem. It is currently used in most European cars to electronically limit them to 250km/h, and could be done here to restrict our busses plying EDSA to 50 km/h. Provincial busses, especially those running on the North Expressway, could be given an 80 km/h limit.
I think we can all agree that the soft approach doesn’t work for these erring bus drivers that seem to spawn other heartless killers in the thousands, and taint the name of those who are genuinely trying to earn an honest living So treat them like the animals that they are and cage them with technology. I’m not trying to generalize by saying every single bus driver is evil and will eventually drive his passengers into a firey grave, but those that aren’t won’t have a problem with this technology anyway.
Secondly, I think it is time that the government take over our public busses. I never thought I would encourage the government to take over anything, but another primary reason that bus drivers speed is because they are ‘racing’ to the next passengers. For those who don’t already know, bus drivers are not paid a salary. They pay the owner of the bus an average of 12-15,000 pesos a day to run the bus, plus the cost of the fuel. Whatever they make on the top of that is their take home pay. This is why they compete like gladiators.
In any decent country, if you are even 30 seconds late for the bus, the driver just goes. The only consolation is that there will be another one coming by in 12.2 minutes and you can pretty much set your watch by it. Think about how much easier life would be if we employed the same system here. We could halve the amount of busses on our roads overnight for a start and eliminate the dangerous jockeying for position at every pick up point simply by removing the incentive.
These are only two out of many suggestions that could be made. But the idea is to keep things simple. So of you are sick of seeing the same old people get away with murder, please sign and share this petition until something is done.
Let’s see who has the balls to act on it. Ironically, it will probably be someone like Miriam.