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Why Mobility Matters in the Philippines

red metal train handle of public transport

Mobility is a challenge in the Philippines, whether due to heavy congestion in metropolitan areas or a lack of connections in suburbs and provinces. Commuters' daily experiences, on the other hand, can vary greatly.

With a newly appointed leader in the country, the stakes are high in accommodating one of our country’s biggest weaknesses - access to mobility.

For more than a half-century, the country's progress has been hampered by a lack of safe and functional transportation system for everything from mass transit to the efficient transportation of goods, the use of personal automobiles, and even systems for safe cycling and walking.

According to research, when roadways provide a high level of mobility, there is a marked increase in prosperity and social inclusion. Mobility does not simply imply the construction of more roads, trains, subways, bike paths, and walkways. It entails designing them so that the greatest number of people can travel comfortably and conveniently, in accordance with their personal preferences and taking into account any personal conditions that may limit them.

Here are 4 key principles we need to optimize our mobility capability in the country:

1. Prioritize social inclusion in transportation design.

System adaptations should be made to assist people with physical or intellectual disabilities, non-native speakers of the region's language, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultural outsiders. This does not always necessitate new infrastructure improvements; it can be accomplished through more frequent schedules, personal assistance for the elderly and people with disabilities, and applications that make it easier to coordinate rides.

2. Create new cross alternative options to private car commuting and public transit.

Private cars cause traffic congestion, and many people would rather save money. Traditional public transportation frequently involves inconvenient procedures and multiple transfers. A rapidly increasing number of cities are looking for novel solutions. For example, Beijing established a metro pass reservation system through which people could pre-book their train seats and avoid long lines at the station. Other cities have established on-demand local shuttle systems, with rides summoned via smartphone, as well as bicycle kiosks. These types of innovations have a significant impact on mobility because they enable citizens to get around without having to own their own vehicles.

3. Encourage community participation to ensure that economic policies are human-centered

This underscores the importance of participation: when city officials and local citizens are engaged, system design improves. Consider how tedious, confusing, and frustrating it is to use a poorly designed app or remote control device. That's how many people feel when they're forced to use public transportation.

Several practices can assist developers in becoming more aware of local community needs. We deserve the best government service as taxpayers. Many transportation and mobility projects now only have bare-bones standards. Safety and convenience appear to be afterthoughts in the various programs that have been implemented thus far.

We need better dialogues with our leaders to take care to dispel our own skepticism from previous ventures. Perhaps an administration that incentivizes rather than punishes is someone we should consider this time?

4. Carry out mobility pilots

Before scaling up, start small, collect data, and ensure that the impact is positive. This is known as a "minimal viable product" in the technology industry: an update that allows you to see how people use the offering in the real world. Without major investment, you can produce winning results with minimal viable infrastructure. Chicago, for example, accomplished this through its bicycle-sharing platforms, as well as other minor improvements such as marked bike lanes. Between 2000 and 2020, the percentage of trips taken by bicycle in the city increased by 53%.

We already know the troubles our country has with mobility as we get to experience them everyday. Now, it is time to know and actively engage with our appointed leaders with regard to their plans and what solutions they have for them. We are now at a crossroads for the future of our country.

Ultimately, this approach to transportation is not limited to urban areas. Suburban commuters and the elderly in rural areas both require assistance getting around. Our country’s leaders should learn from what the few proactive individuals have always known. When you look out for the least mobile people – the elderly, those with disabilities, and those with less disposable income – you improve life for everyone.

Are you an advocate for our country’s future?

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