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Coastal Mall Bus Terminal 2
Previously all buses that ran out of the Coastal Mall in Parañaque City (an area encompassed by Metro Manila) were organized in a rather hodge podge fashion. It appeared as if drivers or operators were allowed to come and go where and when they pleased. The ramifications of this type of system are obviously problematic. I’ll let you ponder the consequences.
There were seemly some major chances that had taken place over the past week. At least in terms of buses headed to locations in Cavite and Batangas. In my opinion, many of these changes are for the better. First, terminal two is now open and drivers and operators are seemly obligated to operate out of that terminal. My understanding is that drivers must undergo biometrics in terms of fingerprint scanning before they are allowed to set out on their routes. All buses must enter the terminal and present their tickets at the guard gate before they are allowed to enter the terminal. At this point in time, I’m not totally sure whether the routes are time slotted or not. If not, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do that as it would certainly pace buses in a more organized and safer fashion.
The system does have some advantages and disadvantages, however. When I was there, there was a line of approximately 300 people waiting for a bus to one particular location and there were no buses in sight. The rest of the bays had about the same number of people waiting. When buses finally started to arrive, the line became shorter fairly fast. While I was waiting a rather interesting system became apparent. When the bus is full, the porter shouts it out and tells the remaining people in line that they can board if they want to stand. If they are content to wait for another bus, another line is opened for people who want to stand on the bus and don’t want to wait in the longer line. Believe me, this is like hungry wolves finding a fresh kill. Once the bus is filled to absolute capacity or over capacity, the bus leaves for its destination.
Terminal two also has a new air conditioned waiting area equipped with a flat screen television, a prayer room, high tech signs, and appears to be relatively clean. Apparently there will be a way to book online, as well. I don’t know how the logistics of this would ever work, however. More terminals of a similar nature are scheduled to open at a later date.
The new terminal and system could potentially alleviate some of the problems that the transportation system in the Philippines has been encountering. It could free up congestion on traffic routes and prevent accidents. This has been stated by some officials. There is, however, one major problem that has been overlooked which is primarily the driving habits currently embraced by bus operators and drivers in the country. To put it mildly many of them drive fast and recklessly with seemingly no consequences. I have been traveling the country for two months now and have yet to see a traffic enforcement vehicle. If you have ever traveled on a bus, jeepney, tricycle, or car in the Philippines, you will certainly understand what I’m talking about.
In conclusion, the new terminal and system are certainly heading in the right direction to make the system more organized and streamlined. On the other hand, other issues are paramount such as setting new driving standards for operators and enforcing such standards.