A Guide to Real Commuting

Carmina Bayombong

Philippine traffic is a beast of its own kind and commuting is no beauty either. Aside from the hours wasted sitting out the daily bumper-to-bumper grind, exhaustion levels can shoot through the roof of the jeepney you’re riding in.

According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), city traffic in our beloved country is caused by these top five factors:
  • Mixed traffic with pedestrians
  • Saturated demand
  • Boarding/alighting malpractice of PUJs at intersections
  • Illegal roadside parking; and
  • Unruly driving behavior
In other words, discipline is the top cause of Philippine traffic today.

Should we say thanks to ride-sharing apps like Grab or Angkas? Definitely. But sadly, that really doesn’t do much either but add to the already voluminous number of vehicles plying our toxic roads each passing day.

With an effective solution to Philippine traffic far from our sights just yet, let’s focus our attention on the various facts and figures of the Philippine transport system and the alternatives we can take as commuters to get from point to point in this jungle we call Metro Manila.

Know your facts

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Metro Manila takes top honors out of 278 Asian cities when it comes to being the most congested city. That’s not the least surprising considering that 1.6 million or ¼ of all registered vehicles in the country are crammed in the metropolis. Partly due to the surge of Grab franchise vehicles, over 200,000 cars go to and from EDSA destinations daily along with over 13,000 buses.

“That’s okay, let’s take the train,” they’ll tell you. Unfortunately, with much wear and tear experienced by our LRT1 due to its being in operation for over 35 years, the MRT 20 years, and LRT2’s 16 years, there’s also no wonder commuters experience train problems 10 times a week on average. Add to that the classic Philippine National Railways which date back to 1891 and we have a train museum on our Philippine railroads. PNR is notorious in canceling scheduled trips so don’t count on riding it on a regular especially if you are along the Tutuban-Alabang route.

So what else adds to the aggravation of our country’s traffic?

Heres’ just what’s on top of everyone’s mind: there’s poor road quality all over Metro Manila cities including major highways, a lack of institutional enforcement, and limited investments in transport infrastructure. However, with the current administration’s Build, Build, Build program, we can only hope that solutions are on the way to ease our congested roads and impatient bladders which are both brought about by our terrible traffic situation.

Don’t forget your virtual map

Students make up a huge percentage of daily commuters and they are the ones who suffer the most from all of these road quagmires save for the elderly and disabled. Studies have shown that exhaustion from daily commute from their homes to schools can cause underperformance, mental and physical fatigue, and increased irritability and anxiety. The good thing is that modern technology has already given birth to GPS and online maps which offer students more traveling convenience.

With an internet connection and one tick on your mobile phone’s screen, you can instantly download Google Maps or Waze for free and know your way around unfamiliar territories like Magellan knows the Pacific Ocean. Most websites will also show you relevant locations via embedded maps if you search for a place you’re planning to go to.

If you’re a student who takes daily Public Utility Vehicles for transport, Sakay.ph is the best source of travel information you can consult in a jiffy. The website will show you the best options for travel routes, ride availabilities, and fare amounts from point to point. Have more questions about a route or place? Sakay.ph communities are also there to guide you along the way.

Hail these God-given rides

Along with the rise in the volume of car owners in Metro Manila are the ride-sharing vehicles you can also take to commute from one place to another. Such apps as Grab, Angkas, and the new Joyride offer convenience at varied costs. If you’re not afraid to go behind a bike rider and hang on for dear life as you maneuver cramped roads in a swerving manner then Angkas and Joyride are good options that will get you faster to your destination and for a lesser fare.

However, if you prefer to sleep through traffic and slouch at the backseat of a car instead, Grab rides are available for a sum that will depend on passenger demand and traffic situation, while if you choose to ride via GrabShare then you get lower fares but with more passengers in tow.

Taxi rides are more convenient nowadays as well with less picky cab drivers, thanks to a more competitive meter re-calibration. But make sure you know the current rates, which are Php13.50 per kilometer and Php2 per minute while onboard and don’t be surprised if your cab ride turns out to be more expensive than all the convenience that a Grab ride can offer instead.

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