5 reasons not to take the public transport in Manila

Written by Donovan April 23, 2015 Category: Asia, Philippines Tags: , , , , Comments
Of all the public transport systems that I’ve taken during my travels around the world, the one in Manila has got to be the worst. Please read on to find out more.
So, feeling adventurous today, I decided to try out the various modes of public transport in Manila. I took the jeepney and the metro. For the jeepney, I took it from the city centre to the university (UP Diliman) to meet my friend, squeezing among locals throughout the ride. Jeepneys are the most common form of public transport throughout the many islands of the Philippines. The jeepneys don’t have air-conditioning. They have open windows. Most of the time the jeepneys are constantly packed with many passengers, up to 20 passengers seated inside and a few hanging out at the back. Jeepneys offer one of the cheapest ways of getting somewhere. They seldom have  a special place to stop. The drivers will slow down enough to enable the passengers to jump on or out. The way of payment is also unique as the person who boards at the back will pass the money from passenger to passenger until it reaches the driver and if change is needed, the process will be the reverse. How interesting!
If squeezing in jeepney with sweaty locals is not your kind of thing, let me explain how worse it is to take the metro during peak hours.
1) Security checks
There are security guards checking your bags before you enter the train station. This takes time and imagine the queue during peak hours as people have to open up their bags for the guards to check.
2) Long lines to buy tickets
Since the ticketing machines don’t work, there are always long lines in front of the ticketing office to buy single trip tickets or to top up the stored value cards. And this is exacerbated by the fact there are only a few ticketing counters open, even during peak hours.
3) few gantries available
Whenever you want to enter or exit the train station, there are usually only two or three gantries that are operating and you have to form a queue. The fare cards take a longer time to be read by the machine compared to the ez-link cards that we have in Singapore where we just beep and go. Again, long queue just to exit the station.
4) crowded trains and platform
During peak hours, it is normal for the trains to be crowded. However, the Manila metro does not increase the frequency of the trains. So the people queuing up on the platform form a super long line and when the train arrives, people will rush to board the train without letting those inside to alight first. In order to get off, you would need some strength and push some people away. Not to forget the narrow platforms seemingly designed for Asians, thus passengers exiting the train have to jostle for space with those boarding. The escalators are also designed in such a way that you cannot overtake people by the side even if you are in a rush.
5) different lines require different cards
There is one MRT and two LRT lines in Manila which are operated by different private companies, hence you have to purchase different tickets and go through another round of security checks even when transiting at a station. This really takes up time and makes it less efficient.
It may sound trivial to you when I list down these reasons about why I dislike taking the metro, but maybe you would have to try it out for yourself to believe it. If you do happen to be in Manila, do try the public transport and especially a ride in the jeepney to truly experience the local transport.

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