Caught (up) in traffic

Category Archives: Bus

MyBus at the Mactan Cebu Airport

Arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), we moved towards the transport terminal where a rental van was picking us up. We were a big group and had luggage for a week’s stay so we arranged for the van, which we rented until the evening so we can go to dinner without hassle. As we walked towards the terminal, I saw a man waving a board with MyBus on it. He was calling out to passengers who might want to take this bus to Cebu City (MCIA is in Lapu-Lapu City). I wasn’t able to take a photo of the man but was able to take few as we waited for our van.

MyBus turning along the MCIA terminal driveway after picking up passengers

MyBus turning towards the terminal exit. There were a good number of passengers on the bus so that’s a good thing. That means they already have established some ridership between the airport and Cebu City.

Another photo of the bus as it waited for a car to clear its path. MCIA has very good road transport terminal facilities, which I thought was excellent when compared to those in other airports in the country.

Perhaps I would try MyBus next time I am traveling to Cebu and with less luggage? The bus as shown in the photo is configured for city operations and not for long distance travel (i.e., with luggage compartments on belly of the bus) like the limousine buses I took in Japan.

New public utility vehicles in Cebu

There have been a lot of new models of vehicles serving as public transport in Metro Manila. It came as no surprise that we found similar vehicles (e.g., Beep or modern jeepneys as some people refer to them) as well as buses in a city that was supposed to have had the first operational Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in the country. Sadly, the Cebu BRT has not been constructed and now national government agencies and the local government is mulling a light rail transit system instead. Here are some photos of the Beep vehicles operating in Cebu as well as a couple of bus services.

Beep mini-bus beside an old jitney – the vehicle sizes are comparable but the Beep capacity is larger. The Beep is also air-conditioned and features a layout similar to buses.

Free shuttle bus service provided by Robinsons Malls

Beep serving the City Hall – IT Park route

MyBus depot at the SM City Cebu North Reclamation Area – these are currently plying the route connecting SM City Cebu with SM Seaside. The route is actually one that was considered for a pilot Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line – supposedly the first one in the Philippines – that did not come into reality.

Why more low capacity PUVs?

I’ve written about the recent additions of new (the government I think prefers to call them ‘modern’) model jitneys along corridors like Marcos Highway, C-5, Quezon Avenue, Espana Avenue, etc.). My main comment has always been about the capacities of these vehicles considering the high transport demand along these routes where the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have authorised these so-called “experimental” routes. The services actually overlap with existing lines of other PUVs like jeepneys, UV Express and buses. Their value is apparently the single, direct ride they provide to commuters, who otherwise would have to transfer vehicles to get to their destinations. The popularity of these “experimental” services only underlines or emphasizes the need for rationalising transportation services especially in Metro Manila.

There are surely opportunities to improve the network including those taking advantage of the improvement of rail services. But rationalisation is not just about changing routes. It also means determining the right capacity vehicles for these routes. Thus, high demand corridors require higher capacity modes in terms of both vehicles and their frequencies.  Perhaps authorities should look into the examples of P2P bus operations as a way of determining the type of vehicles to be deployed as part of the so-called experiment rather than appear to be just promoting these modern jitney models. PUV modernisation, after all, should also mean upgrading the existing vehicles servicing certain routes by replacing them with ones that are more efficient and with higher passenger capacities.

This mini-bus lookalike has a capacity of 23 passengers. That’s practically the same as the newer model jeepneys that are generally longer and with some cleverness of the driver and conductor may seat more (i.e., Benches placed inside the jeepney increases their seating capacity. This set-up, however, is unsafe.)

On improving public transport services to increase or retain ridership

Here is another quick post; sharing a nice article on how to improve public transport services:

Miller, A. (2019) “From the Bus Stop to the Fast Lane: How Cities Can Speed up Buses, Improve Ridership”, Medium.com, https://medium.com/frontier-group/from-the-bus-stop-to-the-fast-lane-how-cities-can-speed-up-buses-improve-ridership-f96d473c1cc7 [Last accessed: May 4, 2019].

While the article drives the point towards increasing ridership, I think the challenge for Philippine cities is more of retaining ridership. This is because there is pressure of public transport ridership decreasing as a result of increasing car ownership (owning their own vehicles is still an aspiration among many Filipinos), the popularity of car sharing/ride-hailing, and the still rapid increase in motorcycle ownership.

Public transport coverage in Metro Manila

I saw several posts circulating on social media about public transport routes in major cities that included stylised maps presented like the transit maps you usually see for cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. These show what the makers identify as the equivalent of stops or stations along the public transport “lines”. These, of course, are a simplification because what appears as a single line may actually be comprised of several. Also, the overlaps seem to be also quite simplified compared to what may be found  in reality. This post will not attempt to show how complicated road public transport is for Metro Manila. Instead, I am sharing the maps prepared from a previous study we conducted for the then DOTC (ca. 2012) that show the coverage of three road public transport modes: buses, jeepneys and UV Express.

PUB coverage for Mega Manila  with distinction of EDSA and non-EDSA routes (2012)

Jeepney  route  coverage  for  Mega  Manila (2012)

UV Express route coverage for Mega Manila (2012)

I hope these maps have already been updated or are going to be updated in order for us to have good visual references for public transport planning including the identification of locations for integrated terminals as well as connections with rail transit.

On the Holy Week rush and long distance trips

It’s that time of year again when people travel a lot of mostly to go back to their hometowns to spend the Holy Week break there. Many will also be going on leisure trips; heading to tourist destinations such as beaches, which are likely the most attractive places during this sweltering summer season. Most people will likely travel on land and would be taking public transportation in the form of provincial buses (while there will be more cars on the roads, more people will be on high occupancy vehicles).

Provincial bus terminal near the end of Gil Puyat Ave. (formerly Buendia Ave.)

One wonders if the mode shares for these provincial trips could have been different at least for Luzon Island if the old PNR northern and southern lines were retained, maintained and modernised. What used to be the Main Line North stretched all the way to San Fernando, La Union with stations at most major cities and towns in Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan including Malolos, San Fernando (Pampanga), Angeles City, and Dagupan City. Meanwhile, the Main Line South stretched all the way to Legazpi City in Albay with stations in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay. These included stations in Calamba, Los Banos, Sta. Cruz, Lucena and Naga. Surely, more people would have taken the trains for these long distance trips if the rolling stock were a lot like those operation by Japan Railways?

On the P2P bus service between Antipolo and Ortigas Center

I decided to take the P2P bus from Robinsons Antipolo to Robinsons Galleria earlier this week. For one, the opportunity presented itself as I had meetings in the Ortigas Center area that day. Second, I didn’t want to drive in heavy traffic along Ortigas Avenue and the area. And third, I didn’t want to worry about parking (my meetings were not necessarily in buildings located near each other). I could easily walk or take a taxi (or Grab car) between meetings without having to worry about a parked car.

Ticket/receipt issued upon payment of the 60-peso fare

The bus was empty but for a few passengers when I boarded. I initially took as seat near the door but then saw the sign by the window stating that the first two rows of seats are preferably for persons with disabilities, senior citizens and others who may require these seats for convenience.

The bus I rode on is of Korean make (Daewoo) and a recent model based on the design and condition of the interiors. The air-conditioning was also strong so most passengers just close the aircon ducts above them.

There’s a bus leaving every 30 minutes. There is a no standing policy so passengers will be directed to the next bus once all seats are taken, even if there’s a lot of time remaining before the full bus departs. 

Nearby the bus terminal is a jeepney terminal for the Antipolo-Cubao (via Sumulong Highway) route. Tricycles freely come and go at the terminal. Meanwhile, people may also leave their vehicles at the parking area (free of charge) for the final legs of their daily commutes. These allow for practically seamless transfers between different modes of road transport.

There are several buses at the terminal when I boarded in the morning. I wonder how many are committed to this particular route but the sign on the body of one bus stated that it was for the SM City Masinag – Greenbelt 5 route. I guess the Robinsons Place Antipolo terminal serves as a waypoint for these buses, which are deployed from the RRCG terminal in Taytay.

The trip started at 7:30AM and took about 75 minutes between Robinsons and Medical City, where I alighted from the bus. I figure it could have been about 1.5 hours until Robinsons Galleria if I continued to the end of the route. I actually thought I had to alight at Galleria but then noticed a couple of passengers who requested the driver to let them out at Medical City. Traffic was moving very slowly along that section of Ortigas Avenue and it wasn’t really an inconvenience to the rest of the passengers for a quick stop at Medical City.

And so I quickly changed plans and alighted at the hospital where I figured I could easily get a cab to my first meeting near Shaw Boulevard. I was right and and quickly got a Grab car to my first meeting. I just walked to the next meeting before taking another P2P bus to get home. The bus ride was comfortable and one can even have a short nap without much worry about security as the bus does not stop for most of the route (i.e., with the exception of the Medical City stop). You can easily squeeze in some work as I saw a couple of passengers typing away on their notebooks. Commutes have become difficult to many that the service provided by these P2P buses present a comfortable option to many who could afford it. The P2P buses actually provide services that are supposed to have been delivered by vans (i.e., FX, GTE, UV Express, etc.) but the latter has evolved to be more like an air-conditioned jitney rather than an express service in urban areas. Hopefully, these P2P buses can retain their quality and level of service and it attracts more car users. I suspect that their passengers might be those who are already using public transport and just shifted to one with a higher level of service.