On Safe, Affordable, and Accessible Transportation for Students

Manila Bulletin, July 28, 2019 | Go to article overview

On Safe, Affordable, and Accessible Transportation for Students


BETTER DAYS

By SENATOR SONNY ANGARA

Over 30 million students will benefit from the recently enacted Republic Act 11314, the Student Fare Discount Act, which we authored. They will all be granted a year-long 20 percent fare discount on land, sea, and air transport.

All that's left to do is for the measure to be published in a major broadsheet or the Official Gazette, and for the appropriate agencies--namely the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr)--to issue the implementing rules and regulations.

The law's enactment stands alongside other efforts to keep transport fares affordable and help our students save their daily allowance, such as the recent announcement of free MRT rides for them on certain hours.

Despite these developments, however, a public transportation network that is safe, accessible, and affordable remains beyond reach for many Filipinos--more so for the many students who commute to school.

An observer was spot-on when she described how commuting in Manila and similar urban areas, has devolved into a "tradeoff," where passengers are forced to choose between spending a sizeable amount to immediately catch a ride or waiting additional hours in queue for more affordable transportation. No student should have to make such decisions.

The daily commute in our major urban areas can often be long and taxing, taking a particularly physical and mental toll on our university students. Instead of being stuck in traffic, they should be at school learning, engaging in their co-curricular activities, or at home resting and spending time with their families.

According to the "student involvement theory" of UCLA Professor Alexander Astin, time spent commuting is valuable time taken away from peer involvement and faculty consultation, which are among many activities crucial to improving a student's academic performance and developing leadership and critical thinking skills.

The Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning summed that the "commuter student"--one who has to travel far distances to get to school--is often disengaged. Their National Survey of Student Engagement argues that students who are spatially distant from their learning institution are less likely to maximize the resources being offered to them. …

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