By Pauline Evora
As a tourist or a resident, have you encountered an abusive tricycle driver on Boracay, at least once?
It is a fact that many residents have decided to buy their own motorbike or scooter to avoid the dreadful wait on the sidewalk and the endless bargaining, just to get home. It is tiring for the residents and workers not to have access to a fair public transport system. Too often, people are being ignored or given excuses only to see the trike stopping a few meters later to pick up tourists who will be overcharged.
What are the alternatives, and is there any solution to fight this growing problem?
As passengers, we have rights. And tricycle drivers have to abide by the law. It is all stated in Section 13 of Municipal Ordinance No. 342-2015.
Here are a few salient points from the ordinance.
It shall be unlawful:
(j) For the tricycle driver to unjustly refuse to convey or ferry passengers to his stated destination;
(k) For the tricycle driver to unduly prefer the carriage of a passenger over another who was ahead in hailing him by reason of superiority of number, sex, age, and/or any other discriminatory factors;
(m) For a tricycle driver to charge excessive charges/ fare which is beyond the lawful rates prescribed by competent authority;
(n) For a tricycle driver to commit misconduct or acts of discourtesy against a passenger by either snubbing, use of rude and abusive language and the like.
Complaint hotline: (+63 999) 946 7551
This mobile hotline is available to anyone facing any of these issues, either by text or call. After personally checking, the number is available and responsive.
A Facebook page has also been set up to specifically tackle these problems: Sumbungan: Boracay Public Transportation Complaint Page. You may also leave a private message on the LGU-Malay Transportation Assistance Page on Facebook.
For them to cater to your complaint, they will need the body number of the driver at the back of his shirt, the plate number and the registration number of the tricycle. Each fault can be penalized with a PhP500 fine. Reckless and dangerous driving will be fined PhP2,500. Once a complaint is made, you may be asked to face the driver once they are summoned to the Action Center at the Mayor’s Office, Balabag Plaza.
The hotline and Facebook pages, although helpful, have not managed to stop many tricycle drivers from abusive behavior towards tourists and from neglecting residents. One reason may be, that tourists lack information about the proper fare to pay. Compared to a taxi in their own country, the price for a charter may seem reasonable. Some state that because they have the means, they don’t want to negotiate the price as the drivers may need the money. It certainly comes from a good place, but they do not realize that it affects the locals.
So, how can we, as a community help to improve the situation?
First, it is mandatory for all tricycles to display their rates clearly on the front window of the vehicles. This practice used to be an obligation but has somehow vanished. Now, only some tricycles still have their tariff rates visible.
“Just can’t work out how they charge. Every time I get one, it is a difference price. I think the cost is getting out of hand for the distance you travel. 2020 has been the biggest increase in price I have seen,” wrote Warren, a returning visitor. So, what about the image of the island for tourists? Not all tourists are willing to pay the asked amounts, especially if they are staying for weeks or months.
All accommodations should brief their guests and explain their rights along with the prices for a charter or a regular trip. The Lees, a Korean family staying on Boracay for a few weeks said: “Our hosts gave us the list of prices for the tricycles around the island, which made it much easier for us. We can negotiate and show we know the proper rates.”
Sierra B, a resident of Bantud suggested, “Another way to help keep a standard rate is to have kiosks that sell passes or tickets: daily, weekly or monthly” A similar system is standard in many cities around the world. For instance, fixed tricycle rates from the airport to the pier; a price list on display that would clearly state the rates so that tourists would be able to buy, let’s say, a single trip to Puka Beach or a regular pass for short trips. This way, it would allow residents to be on the same level as tourists instead of being disadvantaged.
This way, the loading and unloading station could be respected a little more as well. With the new road, came proper spaces for trikes to stop and unload their guests. Unfortunately, the streets stay crowded with trikes and vans stopping anytime or parking in the middle of the road. Different kiosks and ticket stations could help monitor the loading of passengers.
Grab buses have been used and appreciated for their honesty and comfort since coming to the island. But catching it is a lucky game as there is no set schedule.
Acting mayor Bautista issued Memorandum Order No. 2019-091 to the Municipal Transportation Office to phase out the traditional tricycle on Boracay (the initial deadline of December 31 was set back due to the Typhoon Ursula), for better public transportation system to be implemented together with the e-trikes and the multicabs. Having more multicabs going from Cagban to Yapak would help tourists and locals to have access to move around the island.
Do you habal-habal?
A more sensitive public transportation topic is the “single” or habal-habal mode offering their services around the island. While they are operating without permits and are not regulated, many residents and workers still use them for their practicality and convenience. Could a system like Angkas in Manila see the light of day on Boracay, one day?
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