Square space: In Manila, a person spends 66 minutes stuck in traffic a day.

Life in the slow lane
Fiel Estrella (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — We’ve reached the point where traversing EDSA to get where you need to go requires a considerable amount of preparation, foresight, patience and even luck. All those hours spent lining up for the MRT, hoping to catch a bus, or waiting to hitch a cab ride have got us wracking our brains for actual alternative strategies. And if you’re particularly idealistic, you’ve probably even wondered: could there be a solution for all of us?

According to Uber, there is. A survey commissioned by the company and carried out by the Boston Consulting Group has found that in a year, citizens of Metro Manila annually spend a combined 402 hours or 23 days stuck in traffic or looking for parking — that’s approximately 66 minutes a day. There are 75 percent more cars on the road than usual during rush hour, resulting in trips that take more than twice as long. And it all takes its toll: four out of five car owners have reported being late to important appointments such as job interviews and even weddings, and sometimes, they miss these events altogether.

Uber depicts these frustrating traffic situations in the new video “Boxes,” which was shot on the streets of Bangkok. In lieu of real cars, it depicts around 200 extras “driving” cardboard boxes who then find themselves in increasingly farcical and stressful incidents, ending with shots of the city being overrun by boxes. It’s funny when you’re viewing it on your device, but not so much when you realize that we’re practically living it.  

Based on the survey’s findings, Uber suggests that it’s more efficient to share rides, such as requesting an Uber Pool, instead of driving your own car or having an entire ride all to yourself with empty seats that could’ve been occupied by others. After all, routes taken by Uber users tend to overlap, and shared resources and mobility result in lower costs without cutting down on the drivers’ earnings.

Even better, this could mean an estimated 40 to 70 fewer private vehicles on the road, making for smoother traffic flow and less carbon emissions. As Laurence Cua, general manager of Uber Philippines, says, “We can solve bigger problems that we (used to think were) impossible to solve.”  

We can’t just click our heels to solve deep-seated flaws in the infrastructure, but we can ride together and make things a little easier for everyone. If compromise means being halfway happy, we might just be able to go the extra mile.                                         

* * *

To learn more about Uber’s survey and ridesharing, visit unlockingcities.com

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