Aug 9, 2008

[Metro] The Paradox of the FX

A late 1990s model Kijang KF42 in Indonesia.Image via WikipediaGiven rising fuel and thus transportation costs as well, I've been trying to save a bit more by taking public transportation to work. It makes sense since I actually live pretty near the office and my taking cabs to and from work is more of a luxury, or a size of laziness to put it in more blunt terms. Regardless of the mode of transportation I choose - bus, jeepney or cab - I'm pretty much one ride away.

However there's one mode of public transportation that always amuses me - this being the "FX" as they're commonly called. You know what I'm referring to - the localized SUV of sorts that's locally branded as the Toyota Tamaraw FX, thus colloquially known as the FX for short. At one point or another we've probably taken one, and yet have you ever really thought about the nature of such vehicles?

I say this since technically speaking, the FX does not exist.

Don't get me wrong or think me mad - I know the vehicle exists and is out there. that much is definitely true. However from a government standpoint, the FX is not a recognized mode of public transportation. Their rates are not officially regulated by the government nor are they given the rights of the formal associations and such.

In most cases we know the FX drivers take on the guise of taxis - complete with official LTFRB sealed meters and all. They usually let the meters run pretty much forever and trek around the metropolis picking up passengers and dropping them off, much like buses and jeepneys. You know they're still not official given that the drivers do not permanently hang the little signs that indicate where they're headed - they have to carry these signs on their own and they flash them at would-be riders on the sidewalks as they slow down to cruising speeds, then quickly tuck the signs away when they've either picked up everyone possible or determined no one wants to ride.

I can only wonder why we continue to play this ridiculous game of make-believe. Everyone knows they're out there and a lot of people use them. I've seen local law enforcement use them, which becomes a silent nod to them as vehicles without the need to apprehend them as violating any laws out there. They already have more-or-less established routes and pick-up points and they have a loose agreement of rates and fares across the city. And yet they're not quite official vehicles.

I know the other "official" modes of public transportation don't quite appreciate them. They have the versatility of jeepneys in terms of size and ability to get into smaller side-streets. They're air-conditioned and thus have the somewhat comfort associated with taxis and buses. From a fare perspective they get to charge more than buses because of the convenience of their routes and probably bring in more than a standard taxi cab would because of the volume of passengers and the increased take from a higher aggregated flag-down fee, as it were, provided you add up what everyone pays for a trip.

Of course with them being unregulated, no one can determine if their rates are fair or equitable to the rights of the people. Their stopping points are not monitored or regulated and thus they tend to cause unneeded complications as they pick up and drop off passengers as they see fit. Plus who's to make statements on what is a "safe" load for them in terms of number of passengers and who's to ensure they meet safety standards of any kind? That's pretty much the conundrum right there.

On paper the FX continues to be non-existent from a government monitoring standpoint. However in reality it continues to be a thriving part of our mass transportation system and perhaps a piece that merits further scrutiny in the future.
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