When foreign travelers and tourists ask locals in the Philippines whats the best form of transportation or alternative transportation options is, the answer is never certain. The reason for such uncertainty is because we Filipinos do not want to immediately scare off those who are new in town. The qualms of commuting with the Philippine transportation system is something which require several improvements in order to completely fulfill the comfort, affordability, and practicality the Filipinos constantly look for when commuting. The Philippines’ capital, Metro Manila populated with over 1.78 million as of 2016 according to census data, is notorious for the congestion of roads, people and the increasing number of vehicles that appear on the road, thus the stand still traffics that most drivers and passengers fear every time it hits rush hour.
The Transportation System in the Philippines
The government, specifically the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been working time and time again on maintenance, developments and enhancements necessary to address the transportation problem in Manila. With the usual jeepney, tricycle, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) that many locals use to get to places, crowds tend to form and lengthen the lines, raising havoc in the most unusual places of the metro. The most notorious transportation breakdowns usually take place in the MRT and LRT, which I myself have been a victim of during my commute days in college.
Rush Hour Chaos
Once the clock hits 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM, everyone coming from work and school immerse and form long lines, from the stairs to the train platforms. There are even instances where the train’s doors wouldn’t close due to the influx of people compacted inside the train. There are also times when people would just push each other just to get inside the train or pull each other out to get out of the train before it closes. This kind of inefficiency, discomfort, and potential danger that many locals are subjected to every day, make transportation apps like Uber and Grab life savers.
Although with Uber and Grab in the receiving end of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) recent spitfire, the fate of the Filipinos depending on the transportation apps hangs in the balance. Not that getting to work or school is impossible without Uber and Grab, but the accessibility and convenience such services provide passengers and drivers alike, is something that is hard to find elsewhere.
Although, there are two moderately new transportation hacks you can try riding when in Manila or once Uber and Grab decide to end all operations for good. There is the UV Express and the recently established P2P. With the growing number of people in Manila looking to public transportation, the LTFRB and the DOT created a partnership working together to provide every day passengers with more viable options for travel within the metro.
Alternative transportation options:
Utility Vehicle (UV) Express
Another alternative transportation options, the evolution of the Tamaraw FX, established in 1993 by the Toyota Motor Company in the Philippines has been quite sought after by many local commuters. With the concept of an air-conditioned jeepney that seats up to 10 passengers becoming high in demand, the UV Express emerged. The UV Express has more than 120 services nationwide, with a 14-seater capacity, a bigger vehicle with more leg room, this is definitely one to try if you are adamant with riding the jeepney or tired of pushing through the MRT’s current, then the UV is one option for you. If you’re especially traveling to go around and explore the metro like the business districts of Makati and Ortigas, I suggest taking the UV instead of hackling through the trains.
Not only is it more comfortable than standing crumpled inside a train, it is also convenient since the UV is accessible in several pick-up points around the metro, close to all major establishments. Their terminals are located in the following major cities out of the 5,953 UV terminals and routes as of 2016.
- Manila, Makati (Ayala Center)
- Pasig (SM Megamall-Ortigas area)
- Mandaluyong (Star Mall)
- North Avenue
- Eton Centris Station
P2P (Point to Point)
The newest bus service the DOT and the LTFRB, along with the MMDA introduced to the metro is the P2P Premium Bus Service another alternative transportation option. Launching last December 2015, P2P started with only 20 buses taking only 3 routes, namely, Trinoma, SM North EDSA, and SM Megamall to Makati City. Today, there are about 48 buses and 10 accessible routes the P2P takes which include:
- SM North EDSA to SM Megamall
- Trinoma to Glorietta 5
- SM North EDSA to Eton Centris to Trinoma to SM North
- Robinson’s Galleria to Glorietta 3
- Alabang Town Center (ATC) to Greenbelt 1
- Ayala Malls South Park to Greenbelt 5 to Makati Avenue, Robinson’s Summit Center, and Columns in Ayala
The P2P operates from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM around the metro. All routes cost PHP 80 as of 2017, and also provides discounts to students, senior citizens, and PWDs giving them rides for only PHP 56.
The first time I rode the P2P, I was in complete awe with how revolutionized it looked, but also because I basically got a free ride in, since I paid using my old Beep card, which apparently still had enough balance to purchase a ticket worth PHP 80. My friend Celine and I were on our way to see our friend Meg in Alabang Town Center, which was the drop off point the P2P we took from Glorietta 1 was. It exceeded my very expectations, from the seats that were truly comfortable and even adjustable for extra space, to the top-notch air-conditioning and entertainment system.
The ride going there was extra cozy because it was raining throughout our ride which only took around 30 minutes to get to ATC. The P2P Premium bus service not only prioritizes the passenger’s comfort, but also ensures that the ETA is consistently followed, with no stops and just a straight ride to the location. The P2P is probably the first public transportation service I would choose to ride by choice, because of its value for money and strong regard for passenger needs.
Although, most travelers would say that walking is the best way to explore a new place, it is also a must to consider what options are available for getting around in a particular city or country. For a city like Manila where cars and traffic take over majority of people’s time, the best way to go around is to hop from one vehicle to another rather than risking everything at one kind of service. The UV Express and the P2P premium bus service are two alternative transportation options for travelers and tourists to try when planning to explore the city; guaranteeing you value for money, convenience and practicality.
Read more about different transportation here in Philippines.