How many people in Macao woke up this morning and wondered how they were ever going to get to work? These are gloomy days with constant unexpected showers, extremely hot and humid temperature, an uncountable number of construction works on the roads, and no Uber!
In a city of approximately 30 km2, the proximity of one’s abode and workplace should not affect our quality of life. And yet, results of numerous discussions showed that commuting has, on many occasions, been the greatest annoyance of our day-to-day lives. It takes approximately one and a half hours to walk from one end of the peninsular to the other, and less than three hours to walk around Macao. So, how can commuting be that difficult?
It is easy to say that people living in Macao are spoiled. We are used to going from one place to another within a few minutes; anything longer than thirty minutes is considered far. However, what used to be a ten-minute drive now may take over thirty minutes during rush hour. And it is not just about the amount of time spent on the road, but the quality of it as well. So, what is the cause of our frustration in commuting that has so negatively affected our quality of life?
Unlike nearby cities such as Hong Kong or Toyko, we do not have a reliable public transportation system. Huge “people-movers” like the metro or trains are able to take a large number of passengers, are relatively safe and, most importantly, on time. So, even if it takes over an hour to commute from Kowloon to Central every morning, the time needed for commuting can be expected. Unfortunately for Macao, the majority of us can only depend on public buses. The arrival time of buses may not be easy to predict and, if we miss one, we may need to wait for another 15 minutes.
It is worse on rainy days when bus-stops get even more crowded, and buses stop longer at each stop as passengers need to open and close their umbrellas getting on and off. Not to mention having to worry about one’s own safety whenever bus drivers stamp on the brakes; we could have hit someone or perhaps a police car. So, it is not hard to imagine how the stress from taking buses to work can ruin the day for most people.
For the lucky few who have invested in parking spaces at home and have free parking at work, driving could be an option. This does not mean it’s not annoying being caught in traffic for half an hour when you know you can be there in five minutes if only all the cars in front of you disappeared.
For the less lucky drivers, those who do not have private parking spaces, there are only two choices: face the frustration of driving around looking for parking – which may take longer than the time spend on the road – or invest in renting parking spaces which nowadays is more expensive than taking a taxi every day. Well, taxis should solve the problem then. True, not having to be overcrowded or look for parking every morning would certainly make our days happier. If only we had taxis available in town.
So, the best way to go to work post-Uber would be to walk, but that is only for people who live within walking distance, that is within 20 minutes’ walk to work, and are healthy. Otherwise, the long walk in such hot and wet weather can cause heart attacks, heat strokes or muscle strain. Ok, this may be a bit exaggerated. But going into an air-con filled office when one is soaking wet from sweat may cause one to get a cold too.