Free market driven transportation

In Manila, one can get from door-step to door-step using public transportation. There is the little matter of traffic induced by the haphazard transporters, but surely they are better off than our people waiting in bus stops for buses that never come.

Metro Manila has about 25 million people during the day, and the vast majority of them do not own vehicles. The city relies on a series of market forces driven solutions.  I know,  I lived there  for three years.

My transport (back then) to work follows like this.

I have to walk out of Talayan village before I get to the edge of the residential village facing the del monte road. Jeepneys ply the road in matter of minutes. They however make stops wherever anyone wants to get off or get on. This obviously leads to mounting traffic for other vehicles. It is open air, and the radio speakers blare some AM station or another. You pay about 50 sen to get to the train station.

One train later I am at the university. And every zone has carved up its own travel network based on need. Licensing is not tight, and people are allowed to ferry people in particular zones if they find it attractive. There are some price control mechanisms, but largely enterprise is the buzz word.

I can actually choose not to walk to the edge of residential area since there are tricycles servicing the distance.

And prices are dictated by market forces. If it cost too much, no one would take it. An attractive alternative will always emerge if you give it a chance.

In all the chaos, people are getting where they want.

Taking charge

But not in KL, or nor in most Malaysian cities, maybe it is time for self-service. Communities taking charge.

Is not altogether foreign. When I was in form one I started attending a school which had different schooling hours and was not on any school bus route. The public buses were as they are now, shambolic.

Some of the parents then decide to earn some ringgit by transporting their child’s schoolmates. It worked. It worked because there was a need and the people who benefited from it got involved.

My rapid KL guy is not interested in me getting home since he is just a cog in a large machine which is more complicated and complex than Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Cheras puzzle

For us Cheras people, there is a main road where all the townships fork from. Everyone is either going to Kajang or KL. The transportation on the main artery is solid. It is the support transport from the townships to the main artery (Cheras road)

Any business running a small number of vans up and down the township to the bus stop on the main road will profit. Then why don’t we? Taxis are already doing it. Realising they are more likely to get more passengers if the fare was divided by four, they just find four passengers.

Today, at the Taman Segar bus-stop taxi drivers are negotiating with passengers, passengers are negotiating with passengers and buses are still not showing up enough.

Free market forces at play. That’s an idea.

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