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A Tourist Guide for using Philippine Public Transportation


Planning to visit Metro Manila, Philippines? If yes, then you need to be familiar with how transportation is like here in the city.

There are numerous ways to get around the metro, but each may have its own difficulties/challenges. Hence, to equip you with the information in surviving public transportation in the Philippines (more particularly Metro Manila), here’s a guide:

Jeepney
Jeepney Photo by Lawrence Ruiz, CC BY-SA 4.0

The most iconic transportation here in the Philippines. In fact, the Jeepney is often used as a symbol of our “identity”. Jeepneys operate like buses, and you can determine their routes by the signage placed on their windshield. However, given the lack of jeepney/bus stops, you have to call the attention of the driver whenever hailing one. If you intend to get-off the jeepney you need to say, “Para” which means “Stop”.

Minimum fare: Starts at P9. There’s no one to collect the fare, so you need to ask your fellow passengers to help give your fare to the jeepney driver.

Advantages: The cheapest among all alternatives
Disadvantages: Exposure to heat and dirt and may cause confusion on the routes and where to get off

Is it tourist friendly? Not really. It’s difficult to know the routes, and you might have difficulty where to make a stop, since we don’t have designated jeepney stops. However, most commuters are friendly, so you can ask for assistance.

Bus
Bus Photo by Blackrose0728, CC BY-SA 3.0

This is your typical bus that has a huge seating capacity. You might encounter buses with no air-conditioning unit, so you may want to skip those if you want a more comfortable ride. As trivia, buses here in country are privatized.

Minimum fare: Starts at P13

Advantages: Most buses are air-conditioned
Disadvantages: Similar with the Jeepney, there are no definite bus stops (except for Makati City and Bonifacio Global City), but the fare-collector normally shouts the name of the street/area (hence, you’ll somehow have indication)

Is it tourist friendly? Yes, though it is subject to rush hour madness.

LRT/MRT

Due to the “faster” travel time of LRT/MRT, many of us Filipinos rely on it for our daily commute. Unfortunately, there are cases wherein the trains (MRT more frequently) experience malfunction which then disrupts the entire transportation system.

The good news is there's continuous expansion underway, and some of the trains were already replaced/modernized.

Minimum fare: P13

Advantages: One of the fastest ways to reach your destination. You’ll know which station to get-off to, since it’s announced.
Disadvantages: Limited stations. Heavily crowds up during rush hour which is 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM in the morning and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the evening (on weekdays). Waiting time is unpredictable.

Is it tourist friendly? Yes, but only during off-peak hours, otherwise you might experience severe inconvenience.

PNR
PNR Photo by Mithril Cloud, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Philippine National Railroad was the first to efficiently move passengers in the metro. Overtime, it started deteriorating due to typical wear and tear. It also did not experience much upgrade, since train parts became obsolete/difficult to source elsewhere. Still, it was a good thing that they were able to install air-conditioning units in the trains.

Also, as an FYI, the government is planning to deploy new trains as part of its rehabilitation efforts this 2019.

Minimum fare: Starts at P15

Advantages: Caters to other destinations not covered by LRT and MRT. It spans from Tutuban, Manila to Calamba, Laguna (the birth place of our National Hero, Jose Rizal)
Disadvantages: the trains are not yet replaced since inception, so it may look rusty. Also, due to limited seating capacity, it tends to get overcrowded as well during peak hours

Is it tourist friendly? Not sure. I personally haven’t tried riding the PNR, so it’s difficult to say

Tricycle
Tricycle photo by John Martin PERRY, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tricycles are another alternative for your transportation needs. It functions both as a “jeepney” (regular fare) and a “taxi” (special fare).

Note that tricycles are prohibited in main roads.

Minimum fare: P10 in Manila, P8 in other parts of Metro Manila for regular (means you will be sharing the tricycle with other passengers). At least P50 for special (you’ll be the sole passenger of the tricycle)

Advantages: Convenient if you go for special. Faster since it can squeeze its way to your destination.
Disadvantages: Considerably expensive, since they can charge P70 (or perhaps higher) even for just a short distance

Is it tourist friendly? If you choose special, it may be tourist friendly, but note that they also have the tendency to raise the fare, so prepare to haggle. I don’t suggest the regular ride, since they have a fixed stop, and it’s normally difficult to know, unless you specifically ask

Taxi
Photo by po-kus, CC0

The culture of taxi is way different here in the Philippines. They normally have the upper hand, when it comes to destination and routes.

Minimum fare: Starts at P40, +P11 for every km, +P2 for every minute on the ride

Advantages: Convenient and you won’t need to worry about getting to your destination
Disadvantages: Taxi drivers normally ask for your destination first before they accept/reject the ride. Hence, be ready to face “rejection” whenever choosing this as your mode of transportation.  Also, taxis normally do not have “enough change”, so you might end up paying more when that happens

Is it tourist friendly? Yes, when it comes to comfort and getting to your destination. No, when it comes to the price since taxi-drivers tend to “fix the price” for tourists.

Grab

Grab is an app-based raid-hailing solution. You’ll be doing your ride bookings via the app, and you have the option to either pay in cash or thru credit card.

Minimum fare: Depends on the distance and traffic situation (this is automatically computed by the app)

Advantages: Has the option to not pay in cash (via Grabpay which will be linked to your credit card), very convenient as you’ll be picked up wherever you are, and dropped off to your destination
Disadvantages: Expensive and subject to price surges (which can bring the fare up to x3). You’ll really be paying for the comfort/convenience

Is it tourist friendly? Definitely yes. You will not have to worry about getting lost, since you’ll be the one pinning your destination in the app. It's the most convenient (although for a price)

I hope you this article found itself useful. See you here in the Philippines!
Feel free to drop questions, comments or insights. 




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