Manila Philippines Transportation

Manila Philippines Transportation is, well, an experience!  I traveled to Manila on business, and as such I needed to get around the city.  Sometimes my appointments were far and sometimes close.  Here is what I have learned during my stay:

Special Manila Philippines Transportation notes:
– unless you are on the highway, traffic lines do not mean anything! I have not seen one vehicle travel down streets here using the traffic lanes.

– remarkably I have not seen 1 accident here.  In fact whenever I hear sirens it is always an ambulance (with the exception of President Cory’s funeral).

Manila Taxi’s
Distances: Taxi’s can get you anywhere you want to go. Anywhere from 1/8 mile to several miles in Manila.
Reliability: Taxis are so/so reliable. They are in the busy areas but not so much in the not so busy areas of the city. Most taxi drivers I have used knew where I needed to go, sometimes I just needed to give them big landmarks that were near… and refer to my map.
Pay: $.80USD to $11USD. Make sure you use metered taxi’s, or be prepared to pay for it. I always ask “how much” to the driver before I get in the taxi.
Comfort: Taxi’s are also comfortable. You always have plenty of room
Safety: This is a tough one… The way people drive on the roads, safety is not exactly the word that comes to mind. Also, many taxis do not have working safety belts. But they do seem to be safe, just keep the doors locked when you’re driving around.

Manila Jeepney
Distance: Jeepneys can go pretty far. They follow a routes just like a bus, but the problem is the routes are not posted anywhere, so you just need to read them and know what they mean.
Reliability: Jeepneys are all over, and they are pretty reliable. You just wave down the driver and look them in the eye to get them to pull over for you. Then you just jump into the back and away you go.
Pay: Very cheap. Around $.20USD to $.50USD. They are often good to use when you get off of a light rail station.
Comfort: You get pretty squeezed in when they are full, which might be 1/3 of the time. When you are ready to get off, just jump out the back or let the driver know to pull over, and then jump out.
Safety: They seem to be pretty safe, and I have not seen one go real fast yet. They do not have seat belts though, so be prepared to slide around on the metal bench seats. Pay attention when you get out, so you don’t run into other moving vehicles.

Motorcycle taxi:
Distance: 0-2+ miles. They probably go further.
Reliability: like taxi’s they are all over the place, they tend to speak Tagalog and not much English. They are also younger… I don’t know if this indicates their lifespan… because of the way they drive.
Pay: $.50USD – $3USD
Comfort: not real comfortable. Many women ride these motorcycles like horses… they sitting sideways on them (no thanks for me). I am not real fond of hugging strange guys either for that matter.
Safety: As I mentioned before, Motorcycle taxi’s are crazy. They weave in and out of traffic going between cars, on the curbs, etc. Some have helmet’s and some don’t.

Bicycle Taxi: (Pedicab)
Distance: less than 1 mile
Reliability: Good. These things are everywhere. I think there are more of these than taxi cars or motorcycles. They are normal bicycles that have been adapted with a carrier to the side of them. These carriers are what you sit in as they drive on the roads and weave in and out of traffic!
Pay: $.20USD – $2USD
Comfort: They are not real comfortable, but they do have a cover to keep the rain from completely drenching you (unlike motorcycle taxi’s). They are also makeshift in nature meaning they differ from one bike to the next.
Safety: Not safe. I have not seen one in an accident yet, but you can imagine what would happen to a bike with a passenger in it on the streets. Often they will go the wrong way on a one-way street. I did not ride one in the rain yet, so I am not sure how much of the rain they keep out, plus you only get to where you are going as fast as the biker goes. Since there are not many hills in Manila (at least that I have seen yet), you can’t go too fast on one of these. And you can almost walk faster!

Walking in Manila:
Distance: 0-2 miles
Reliability: depends on you, and the weather. When it rains I stop walking and get a taxi. But if you are not in a taxi area, then you will need to walk to get to one.
Comfort: Depends on your shoes. Many days here I was dressed up, and my walking shoes were OK. When I was in sandals in the evenings I started to get blisters cause my feet were not used to them (good thing I brought shoes and sandals).
Safety: So/So. By walking around you are more exposed to 2 things… people and cars. Being exposed to people is mixed. Being a well-dressed American brought me a lot of attention. Especially from the poor and those offering lady friends and drugs. Just like any large city just use common sense and choose your walking carefully. Most of the cities that comprise metro-manila are lined with people on both sides of the road, and all kinds of small shops and make shift living quarters. The exception that I saw was in the city of Makati. It has a lot of skyscrapers and developed streets and sidewalks that limit the room for small shops and make shift living quarters. As far as walking around cars, be careful. I think in driving school they teach drivers that they have the right-a-way! That is how it is on the streets, so cross carefully. More than once I was brushed by a car walking down the street (of course I was in the road, but there was no way to get through the side walk because of street shops and parked cars).

Manila Trains (light-rail)
Distance: .2-5+ miles
Reliability: So/So. The train times are pretty reliable, but getting aboard the train is very so/so. At one station I tried to board the plane with 2 associates, and it took us til the 4th train before anyone at our part of the loading area could fit onto a train car. These trains can get pretty packed, especially around rush hour. From what I could tell there are only 2 trains, the LRT and the EDSA train. Both are great for getting across the city.
Pay: prepay $.20-.50USD per ticket
Comfort: Not too comfortable. My first time on the train I brought my backpack (not smart). I turned it to my front like I normally do in crowds, but I had no idea how packed the train was going to be. It can get so packed, that you cannot move your hand up to hold onto to the handle bar. I was literally touching 5 people at the same time. Prepare for close contact on the rails. Also, the front 2 rail cars are reserved exclusively for women and children.
Safety: They seem pretty safe, there is no protection from falling into the rail way, so don’t get too close to the edge when a rail car is approaching, these things can go fast. If you were lucky enough to get on one that was less than half full, then you might be able to find a seat located in the mid sections of the rail cars.

Some other forms of transportation here are bus’s (there are a bunch on main roads), Kalesa (which are like carriage rides…Ass and buggy), and Taxi Vans (I think these are if you are with a big party that needs to travel, not sure about them, but I have seen them at malls and hotels).