In the Philippines, the bus is the dread of the road.
It is easily the understatement of the state of public transportation. Consider the realities in the Philippine highway. Most attribute the logjam in EDSA, the country’s most (in)famous thoroughfare, to the undisciplined maneuvers of buses that unduly constrict the flow of traffic. More often than not, buses have captured headlines for causing gruesome road accidents that leave innocent drivers, commuters or even bystanders dead. There is of course the unending conflict between government transportation agencies and the bus companies without franchises, the so-called colorum buses. So many wish that the large whale of a vehicle in front of them would just disappear with a snap of a finger. Or with a honk of a horn.
Well, dread no more.
A Filipino inventor by the name of Elma Alboleras has introduced to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) his prize-winning invention, the Intelligent Bus Utility System or iBus System, as a mode of regulating bus transit in the clogged lanes of the metro. At its forefront is the digitalization of bus routes and passenger transport. This is how it would work:
The System uses machine-readable tags to digitally identify a vehicle to become part of a database where computers are then used to handle its daily operation. It can detect whether buses are properly positioned at designated stops.
If improperly positioned, the System will not allow passengers to disembark or alight. System overrides are allowed for emergencies, but these would be validated by the MMDA Metrobase. (taken from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/11/24/11/mmda-test-award-winning-ibus-system)
In essence, the driver and the passenger are at the mercy of computer. No more of the unahan sa pasahero or of the matigas na ulong pasahero. This system aims to transform the bus from the wild animal it has become into a sophisticated and controlled creature of public transportation.
Alboleras’ invention is a laudable step in pursuing the goal of a seamless and manageable public transport system. That a Filipino has created such modernized mode of regulating transport should be enough impetus for the government to pursue the project through its full development, subject to the results of course of a trial stage. And yet, unsurprisingly, there are the proverbial bumps on the road to deal first. Initially, the government would have to consider the cost of the project and the quality of the digital tag system. Pity those passengers suddenly trapped in immovable buses due to a technical glitch. Only bus companies with legally acquired franchises should be allowed to participate in the project, so a strict regulation of bus companies is a priority. The greatest challenge however, will lie in the hearts and minds of the commuting Filipino public. The proponents of the project would have to find ways of selling it or else cynics would have a field day lampooning the system.
Time to do away with the dread on the road.
Aldan S. Avila, Entry No. 3