It’s a regular school day, and I’m sitting in van along with five of my carpoolmates. We’ve been stuck along C5 for over an hour, but aside from the stress, we aren’t so bothered because we’ve got the aircon on full blast and One Direction’s entire discography on repeat.
Compared to the horror stories I encounter on social media — of ticket queues spiraling down and out of MRT stations, of an FX driver robbing and raping female passengers on what would otherwise be a regular commute, or of a man exposing his genitals in a crowded jeep — it all seems unfair.
Granted that the robberies and rape cases are all isolated, yet they still serve to show us what can happen. It’s sad to know that horrible things happen even if all you want to do is get to your destination.
When it was time for me to start going to a University three years ago, my main problem was the travel time. My school in on the opposite side of the Metro from where I live, so getting there usually means crawling through the parking lot that is EDSA. On a good day, it takes around an hour and a half of travel time, while on a bad day, it could end up at least four.
To be honest, I didn’t realize how far my new school was until my mom drove me there to submit my enrollment documents. We crossed numerous bridges and a river, enduring a bit of traffic and even taking a short lunch break before finally getting there. To say that the trip was tiring would be an exaggeration, but the thought of going through all of that for the next four years already gave me a headache. So when it was time for school to start, my parents encouraged me to look for alternate ways to get there.
After comparing gas/ticket expenses and travel time (and testing everything out by driving there and back during rush hour), we figured that carpooling would be much more practical than getting dropped off every day or having to commute. For those who only know about carpooling from James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” series, a carpool is basically a group of people (sadly, sans celebrity status) who regularly ride in the same car to a common destination, or destinations that are close to each other, usually to save gas and money. That’s not to say that there won’t be any singing involved (because there definitely is).
My friend referred me to a big carpool with an organized system that ensures that a car leaves every hour, so I signed up, not knowing what to expect. Now, after almost four years in the same routine of getting in other peoples’ cars, I can say that the up side to it was that I get to meet lots of new people. There’s nothing that bonds you more than sitting in a car trapped along EDSA or C5 for hours. You play car games, you talk about the latest celebrity tsismis, and sometimes, you make a short McDo or Burger King run just to make the traffic bearable.
I acknowledge it’s a privilege to even have a carpool option, when so many others out there have no choice but to take a train, bus, taxi, jeep or other public means just to get to school. What I hate is that braving the traffic along EDSA in a car has come to be a more practical option than public transportation. Everyone should have the right to efficient transportation.
Joining a carpool saves time and gas, and it’s also much safer since you know the people you’re riding with. Starting one should be simple — all you have to do is gather friends or co-workers who are heading to areas that are close to each other.