Yesterday, it was reported by various media outlets that government is considering implementing mandatory carpooling on EDSA just to help ease traffic congestion. The reports conflicted with each other as to the minimum number of passengers that will be required: Some put it at four, while others said it was three. All the same, the fact remains that the authorities are seriously mulling enforcing a ride-sharing policy to address our traffic woes.
We conducted a poll to find out how our readers felt about the proposal. As of this writing, a whopping 83.5% (8,163 votes) oppose the idea, while only 12.4% (1,213) are in favor of it. A little over 4% (403) say they're okay either way.
Now what? Will mandatory carpooling really solve our gridlock problems? Perhaps we can look at what the city of Jakarta has done.
Five years ago, a friend of mine who had moved to Indonesia to head the sales department of BMW in that market, told me about the three-passenger rule that was in place in the city at the time (I am not aware if said rule is still in effect today). From 7am to 10am and also from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays, a private vehicle carrying fewer than three passengers wasn't allowed to use a main highway, hence discouraging single-occupant cars from hitting the road during rush hour.
It was a good policy, to be honest, if the purpose was to reduce the number of cars on the road. But human nature got the better of Indonesian drivers; soon, they found a way to cheat the system. Before long, people were offering their "services" to solo motorists, agreeing to ride with the latter for the equivalent of P50 per head just so single-passenger vehicles could use the highway during peak hours.
The scene went like this: You're driving solo and you're late for a meeting, and you really have to go on the highway to get to your destination fast. Before entering the main thoroughfare, you'll pick up two total strangers and pay them for the highway joyride. These strangers will get off once you exit the highway.
This practice was pretty common in those days (again, I'm not sure if the policy is still in place)--so popular, in fact, that a Filipino expatriate knew about it. They even had a term for those individuals offering the service: car jockeys.
And so, in effect, the policy accomplished nothing but provide "employment" to the jobless.
Now, I don't know if this "cheat code" can work here if the carpooling policy becomes a reality, considering our paranoia when it comes to random strangers and the security threat they carry with them. But if there's one thing Jakarta and our very own history have taught us, it's that people will find a way to skirt around something they do not agree with.
Screenshot from YouTube video of Samuel Darmento