by Aaron P. Valdez
With problems on highway bans and tariffs on prices all resolved, the Loyola Heights Tricycle Drivers and Operators Association (LHTODA) and the Loyola-Pansol Tricycle Drivers and Operators Association (LPTODA) now face an endogenous problem: illegal terminals.
Operators and dispatchers of both the LPTODA and the LHTODA complained about their own tricycle drivers who agree to take rides from illegal terminals, which in turn affect the integrity of setting up rules regarding loading and unloading points for passengers.
The LHTODA and the LPTODA usually form tricycle lines on terminals, areas where tricycle drivers are allowed by the barangay office to load and unload their passengers. These areas are tiny strips in roads marked by 15-foot yellow lines to designate which portion of the road the drivers are allowed to momentarily park their tricycles and wait for passengers. These terminals are strategically placed in major streets and commercial areas of the Katipunan area: Xavierville Avenue, Rosa Alvero Street, and Shoppersville, to name a few.
The color-coded tricycles– green for the LHTODA and white for the LPTODA – ply their trade along Katipunan, a thoroughfare of the C5 Road. Katipunan Avenue is paved with academic institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College, University of the Philippines and Kostka Academy, among others. Private establishments also surround the strip, ranging from condominiums to academic review centers.
According to Operator Roderick Pagulayan, illegal terminals are those areas where tricycle drivers are not allowed to wait for passengers. Areas in front of Jollibee, Mushroomburger and Prince David Condominium are examples of illegal terminals.
“Iyong ibang miyembro namin, pumipila sa hindi dapat pilahan. Ang purpose nitong mga terminal ay para makapila kami, pero yung iba talaga, basta makakita ng pasahero, sakay agad. Tawag namin diyan buraot”, says Pagulayan.
Pagulayan says that the practice of picking up passengers from illegal terminals are the most frequent cause of scuffles among the drivers, as this violates the agreement that the LPTODA and the LHTODA forged to create a fair and systematic process of providing transportation.
Dispatcher Onie Belara says that most of the blame should go to the tricycle drivers, but the passengers are also accomplices in establishing these illegal terminals. According to Belara, most of the passengers do not bother to walk to terminals anymore, waiting to hitch a ride with passing tricycles instead.
“Minsan kasi yung mga pasahero – lalung-lalo na iyong mga estudyante – hindi alam kung saan magpapapara. Hindi ko alam kung tinatamad maglakad papuntang terminal, pero bawal talaga iyong ginagawa nila. Kaya nga may terminal para pantay-pantay kaming mga tricycle driver, pero iyong iba talaga, buraot.”
Solutions to the terminal problem
The LPTODA and the LHTODA currently enforce a system that includes a dispatcher and an operator, wherein either a dispatcher or an operator directs the traffic of passengers to dormant tricycle drivers. Dispatchers are those that ensure passengers are given a ride, and operators are dispatchers who also double as tricycle drivers.
The system, however, still has some loopholes, as drivers receive sporadic support from city officials.
Belara said that the city, through the Tricycle Regulation Unit (TRU), has released an ordinance regarding the legal pick-up points for passengers. LHTODA and LPTODA officials who catch drivers picking up passengers from illegal terminals can award these drivers a suspension of seven days, inhibiting them from plying their routes.
Alex Baay, LHTODA president, said that other than their current terminal system and the city’s ordinance on tricycle terminals, there has not been any effective solution thus far. He says that the officials seldom catch perpetrators, and are usually forgiven in virtue of ad misericordiam.
Baay, however, encourages making the residents aware of their situation. According to Baay, their established terminal system will only fully work with the cooperation of the residents, since city officials exercised little to no jurisdiction over the problem.
“Hanapbuhay din kasi namin ito. Minsan, yung iba sa amin, kapag may tentasyon na kumita ng malaki, siyempre kukuhanin namin. Kailangan din namin yung tulong ng mga residente para maayos ang sistema namin.”
“Hindi naman ganoon kahirap maghanap ng tricycle dito sa Katipunan. Pagkadami-daming tricycle sa mga terminal. Dati nga, pasahero yung nakikipag-agawan sa tricycle, ngayon, kami na iyong nakikipag-agawan sa kapwa naming driver.”