Tarps with announcements are in shuttle terminals. Rodriguez, Rizal (Montalban) is intensifying its campaign against colorum vehicles, with the support of LTFRB. Well we all know that colorum vehicles are technically unauthorized to serve as public utility vehicles since they do not have the license to do so. And yet they do. Not just in Montalban. And with this intensified campaign, I don’t know how it will affect the lives of commuters in Montalban, as well as Montalban’s economy in the long run. I actually wrote about this in my Montalban wishlist, but I’d like to deal with it some more here.
Here are some risks we must be cognizant of when riding colorum vehicles.
1. Insurance: All franchised (yellow plate) vehicles pay for insurance premiums to cover accidents that may occur (knock on wood 3x). Franchised vehicles (UV Service Express and GT Express, buses and jeepneys) have insurance coverages in case of accidents so that the passengers are covered. Up to how much, I don’t know but at least there is coverage. Colorum vehicles do not have insurance so in case of an accident, sorry! Lucky you if the driver is willing to cover the damages but what are the chances?
2. License: There is a higher chance that drivers of franchised vehicles are licensed professional drivers, meaning their licenses were really meant for driving as a profession, as a livelihood. Notwithstanding the licensing quirks in the Philippines, again we have more comfort that the driver is capable and is skilled to carry passengers. As for colorum vehicles, there is a lower probability that the driver has a professional license since most colorum vehicles are just private vehicles who get passengers to earn extra income. One may argue that a non-professional driver may always volunteer to drive a franchised vehicle, yes that is true, but again the chances are still in favor of franchised vehicles having professionally licensed drivers.
3. Traffic Enforcers: Franchised vehicles have no fear of being apprehended by MMDA or other traffic enforcers (aside from Number/ Color Coding) since they are operating legally. So the route taken will be the franchised accepted route and there is small chance of being flagged down by our hardworking traffic enforcers. Whereas colorum vehicles always have the fear of being apprehended, hence their route is always non-fixed, random, long-cut and sneaky. And should they get caught, imagine the hassle involved and the lost minutes where the driver discusses (and bargains) with the enforcer.
Clearly, riding franchised vehicles is more beneficial to commuters, than colorum vehicles. But here’s the biggest catch. With the current number of franchised shuttles servicing say Montalban-Cubao v.v. route, there is not enough to cater to the commuter demand (I excluded the jeepney option here since the amount of time and traffic it takes to get to Cubao is simply incomparable to shuttles). The demand of commuters that need to transported to and from Montalban simply outweighs the capacity of franchised vehicles. And that is where the colorum vehicles come in, fill the gap and earn their keep.
With the current number of shuttle vans and SUVs (both franchised and colorum), waiting time in shuttle terminals during rush hours is still significant. As such, with all the vehicles combined, colorum or legitimate, the demand is still greater than supply especially at rush hour.
So what is the impact if we further lessen the vehicles that service the demand by cutting the colorum segment? Montalban as it is, is still quite a distance from the business districts and major establishments so to compensate for this distance it needs an efficient, quick, safe and legitimate transport system.
Transportation is a vital cog in the economy of an area. The faster, cheaper and safer it is to transport people, goods and services to and from the place, the better. People will arrive on time to their destinations, products will be on time and fresher, services will be delivered on agreed time or earlier. If a place is easily accessible, more people will flock to it together with more businesses, spending, output, transactions, taxes and voters.
No wonder why a lot of people try to squeeze themselves in NCR, because it caters to what everyone needs: jobs, businesses, leisure, mass transport, etc. So to be a competitive municipality (and soon city), Montalban needs to strengthen its transport system. It Montalban wants to have more income by getting more residents and more taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, it needs to be more accessible, and movement within and outward needs to be more seamless via an efficient transport system.
Productivity and spending. Driven by an efficient transport system, which hopefully is also legitimate and safe.
The anti-colorum campaign is a good start to clean the streets for a seamless and sufficient transport system. But I hope it does not stop there. I hope that less colorum vehicles means more franchised (yellow-plate) vehicles. And we need it fast, because people in Montalban have jobs and businesses right now, that they need to fulfill daily. Which is what runs the economy. More franchised vehicles please.