getting around

a Jeepney
along Legarda, Quiapo, Manila

It is day two and we have to keep going around the city. To explore it, one needs a trusty ride, and no other ride gets the job done as nicely as the regular jeepney, the primary mode of transportation of Metro Manilans. Of course, there are tons of other vehicles to choose from- the mere fact that there are tons of them plying a combination of routes on the same streets more than make the 50% of the reason why Manila traffic jam is legendary. But the jeepney, is definitely the king (or queen) of the road. Why? Let’s check its rivals:

1) Private cars – Not everyone can afford them. And now that fuel prices are up there, everyone is reconsidering public transpo.

2) Buses – Size allows this vehicle to serve more passengers but that same size hinders it from accessing the much more numerous narrow streets, that leads to most residential enclaves. Buses take forever on major pick-up points because they always anticipate that there will be passengers getting off on the next drop-off points. And missing a drop off point, when you take too long squeezing through the jampacked aisle is always possible and definitely never fun.

3) LRT/MRT – They don’t run on the road to begin with. Speedy and pretty cheap, alright. But, the Metro system in Metro Manila unfortunately, isn’t that extensive as of now. Lots of routes and major centers do not have stations within their vicinity yet.

The layout, format, standard and whatever of some major terminals do not allow speedy transactions for single journey tickets on rush hour. In Manila, save for siesta, every hour is seemingly a rush hour.

4) FX – The aircon jeepney thing did not manage to pull off successfully but this Toyota vehicle is actually working on that aircon jeepney concept. Similar looking vehicles soon became FXs too (Adventure, Revo, uhh and tons of other unknowns) to the public and FX terminals become a staple in every major, minor and even non-transportation hubs.

But FXs focus on the beginning and the ending, the starting point and the finish line. The path they take to get to the destination vary from time to time depending on the usual traffic condition of the optional streets they usually ply. Getting off somewhere along the middle of the journey, a major feature of the jeepney, is dropped in the FX equation. Besides, people squeezed uncomfortably for the entire journey with the possiblity of broken car aircon and shut windows isn’t a very nice scenario.

5) Tricycles – These noisy, bumpy little vehicles are thankfully limited to minor roads and smaller routes. Tricycle drivers usually always overprice people unfamiliar to the locality and their rates.

6) Padyaks – The manual leg-muscle powered tricycles are rare and slow. Their drivers overprice as well.

7) Calesa – The romantic combination of horse dung and saliva are thankfully restricted to Intramuros, Rizal Park and nearby touristy spots.

Much has been said about the current evolution of this WWII relic. Whether you think it is a blessing to the commuting public or it is the primary reason for the city’s failure to come up with a much more efficient transportation system, jeepneys, old and new, are always nice subjects to capture.

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