The truth about commuting in Metro Manila is, most drivers don’t follow the rules. They tend to stop in the middle of the road for a passenger to disembark, or to pick up passengers from non-loading areas. I’m telling you this not to encourage you to also break the rules, but to let you know about the state of Metro Manila’s transportation / commuting system.
My suggestion, however, is still for you to follow the rules. And if you think you’re lost, you can always talk to the bus conductor and the jeepney driver. Be wary of talking to fellow passengers, but DON’T BE RUDE. Some will be very helpful and that’s fine. But if anyone decides to be your tour guide,then I advise that you should think twice or take precautions.
FIRST TIME IN MANILA
- Make sure to have small bills with you when you’re about to ride Metro Manila’s public transportation – and this means 20, 50 or 100 Pesos. Bus drivers and jeepney drivers may not have change if you hand them a 500 Peso bill. Once you arrive at the airport, have a few dollars exchanged for local currency ($50 – 100, perhaps? Bank rates are better, so don’t have all your money exchanged at the airport), but make sure to inform the person in charge to give you small currencies such as 20 Pesos or 50 Pesos. NEVER HAVE YOUR MONEY EXCHANGED outside the authorized money changers no matter how HUGE the offer may be.
- It is important to leave at least 2 hours before your expected arrival time. For example, if you need to be at your destination by 5pm, you have to start commuting around 3pm. Give it time because traffic in Manila is very unpredictable.
- If you’re heading to the airport and your flight is at 5pm, leave your area at 12 noon or 1pm to avoid traffic problems. Better early than sorry.
- When hailing a public vehicle, just raise your hand to signal to the driver. If you don’t signal to the driver, the vehicle might not stop even if you are on the correct loading / unloading area.
- Before climbing aboard a vehicle, it’s important to ASK the driver of the transportation if s/he’s headed to your destination. Do it the Filipino way by simply stating the name of the destination such as:
You don’t have to ask using a complete sentence. Just state the place and the driver will either nod or shake his head.
- To alight from a public vehicle, simply say “PARA” (make sure the driver hears you).
- Rush hour is Monday-Friday, 5pm-9pm.
- Traffic is at its worst if it’s the 15th or 30th of the month and the date falls on a Friday.
RIDING THE TRAIN
- When riding the train, know that there’s a section for women exclusively (which is the first train carriage). If you’re traveling as a couple, you have to enter the male and female section. But if you’re a female and you’re alone, you can head to the first carriage. This is applicable to all trains in the Metro.
- Rush hour in train stations is Monday-Friday, 5pm-9pm.