Gov’t owned agency told to be proactive after Atom Araullo tweets NAIA transport experience

December 12, 2022 - 5:01 PM
NAIA passengers
Passengers from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport waiting for transportation in this photo posted by Atom Araullo on his Twitter account on Dec. 9, 2022 (Twitter/atomaraullo)

A government-owned agency was challenged to be more proactive following a broadcast journalist’s tweet about a “broken” mass transportation system in the airport last week.

Journalist Atom Araullo on December 9 shared that he had just arrived from an overseas trip and was having difficulty finding transportation.

“No coupon taxis, no metered taxis, no Grab. Wala rin tayong mga bus at tren dito. Basically kung wala kang sundo, you’re dead. It’s been an hour and counting. This is what a broken transpo [transportation] system looks like,” he tweeted last Friday.

It has earned 43,600 likes, over 5,200 retweets and more than 1,300 quote tweets on the platform.

The Twitter account of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the one operating four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), responded on the same day. 

“Hi Mr. @atomaraullo, we are saddened to hear about your experience as the high demand due to rush hour combined with heavy traffic around the metro makes it difficult for any mode of public transport to get to and from the airport terminals,” it said.

“Ganun na nga po,” Araullo replied with a crying face emoji.

Nearly an hour after he initially tweeted, the journalist shared an update by saying that he was able to “book a Grab.”

“Setting the pick up location to the departures area (T2) worked. Traffic nalang problema, hehe. Wawa ‘yung mga nakapila pa sa taxi though, madalang talaga dating ng mga sasakyan. Salamat sa thoughts and prayers!” he added with a smiling-face-with-tear emoji.

“T2” refers to Terminal 2.

Transport woes

Other Twitter users claimed to experience similar scenarios.

“Had the same observation upon arriving tonight, quite an unpleasant welcome. In NAIA 2, white taxis, even those which are booked via Grab, are not allowed to enter the arrival area. You have to go all the way up the departure area and have yourself picked up from there,” an online user wrote.

“Arrived the other day at Terminal 3, same experience and found the luck to book a 6 seater Grab car… driver said that traffic was bad at NAIAX with speed limit of 60km/hr, only to see wang-wang escorted private vehicles speeding like ambulances, making all other cars pull over,” another Twitter user said.

Another Pinoy claimed that there are taxis in Terminal 2 but the fares being charged are “freaking insane.”

“Most of the ‘airport taxis’ would charge between 3-8k (one even charging almost 3k for a single trip from T2 to T3 just [because] it’s fixed prices. The metered taxi I rode only had 250 on the meter but charged me 350,” she wrote.

What MIAA could do

Following Araullo’s experience, some online users raised the issue to the MIAA and called on the government authority to be more proactive in addressing the public concern.

“Nugagawen po? Ganon na lang? Adjustments and alternative options should be laid out for passengers, busy period eh. All other countries do it,” a Twitter user said in response to the account’s response to the journalist.

“Hello NAIA, bakit kay Atom tumutugon kayo pero sa reklamo ng ordinaryong mamamayan or even the balikbayan eh [hindi niyo] man lang po magawa?!? Sana po gawan natin ng paraan na magkaroon ng mas epektibong [pampublikong] transportasyon, kahit man lang bus na umiikot every 30mins sana?!?” another online user said.

“So ano action plan ninyo?” a different Pinoy commented in response to the MIAA’s post for Araullo.

“Saddened lang? Ano na ang next real move na hindi lang celebrities ang magbe-benefit?” wrote another Twitter user.

According to the MIAA, two shuttle buses are currently operating at NAIA for passengers arriving from the airport — the Genesis Transport and the UBE Express.

“We highly advise you to coordinate with them for schedules, routes and for further assistance. Thank you!” it said in response to a different Twitter post.

Last month, it was reported that the NAIA was tagged as one of the most stressful airports in Asia and Oceania by a travel blog.

It said that according to its data, nearly 58% of passengers that pass through NAIA experience stress.

The airport was also called the “worst” airport for business class passengers last May, based on a study of a worldwide luggage storage app.

“Manila’s airport, referred to as the ‘main gateway to the Philippines’ in the study, finished with the worst scoring in three different categories: its number of destinations, on-time performance, and rating from Skytrax,” a report of read.

The Department of Transportation disputed the second claim by saying that the study was “unsubstantiated.”

“While the study shows unfavorable rating and unsubstantiated claims about NAIA, it cannot be denied that significant improvements have been carried out in the country’s main gateway in the past six years under the Duterte administration,” it said in a statement.