Caught (up) in traffic

Category Archives: Bus

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.

Airport access by bus at NAIA Terminal 3

The recent trip also afforded me some quick photos of the arrival level driveway of NAIA Terminal 3. Here  are some photos including those of airport taxis and buses serving the terminal and its passengers.

The arrival level (ground level) driveway is not very crowded at 5:30 AM.

From Bay 11 there are taxis and express (e.g., P2P) buses waiting for their passengers. There are booths on the terminal side for those making inquiries or booking their rides. That’s the Runway Manila pedestrian bridge connecting Terminal 3 to the Resorts World Manila complex at the top part of the photo.

Airport P2P buses include those headed for Clark.

Partas’ Deluxe and Ms. Universe Buses

Colleagues are currently undertaking a study for the Partas Bus Company. The management was gracious to tour them around the current terminal in Cubao that is proposed for some major renovations. Part of the tour was taking them inside one of their new deluxe buses, and the bus used in the recent Ms. Universe pageant held in Manila. Here are photos of the interiors of those buses.

Interior of a Partas deluxe bus

One of the company’s deluxe buses

Interior of the “Ms. Universe bus”

Another look at the interior, which includes an entertainment area

The bus has a bar for passengers who might want to prepare some food and drinks while traveling

The leather seats of the “Ms. Universe bus” look comfortable and perhaps perfect for long trips like those typical running between Manila and Vigan in Ilocos Sur (northern Philippines).

Regular buses flanking the “Ms. Universe bus”

More high capacity transit for Antipolo!

Two years ago, I wrote about Antipolo being ripe for high capacity public transportation. So far, work is progressing along the Line 2 Extension to Masinag but there’s no word about it being extended further (Cogeo? Marikina?). I have always maintained that the demand in Cogeo, Antipolo is already established and a mass transit line terminating there will certainly be a game changer in terms of commuting. In fact, it may contribute to rapidly developing that area and hasten the development of Antipolo’s government centre, which is a few kilometres further along Marcos Highway.

Schedule and fares for the P2P bus service between Robinsons Place Antipolo and Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas Center.

There is now a P2P bus service between Robinsons Place Antipolo and Robinsons Galleria via Ortigas Avenue. And then there is the newest P2P service between SM Masinag and the Makati CBD. The first has very limited capacity at present and have few patrons (regular passengers) based on what I’ve observed and the rough survey my students did for a class project. I still have to see the second one from SM Masinag but I assume it has a higher demand considering a lot of people already commute from that area to Makati. I say so because there’s a nearby UV Express terminal that’s always crowded with people every time I pass by in the morning. This should also translate into demand for the afternoon/evening period. However, I am not so optimistic about the off-peak periods (I hope I’m wrong!) as most P2P services my students have surveyed so far indicate really low occupancies during the off-peak periods.

Is P2P the way to go for Antipolo (and its neighbouring towns like Cainta, Taytay and Marikina)? I think this is still basically a stop-gap measure and a mass transit line as well as complementing conventional buses would still be the most suitable for these rapidly and steadily growing areas. Ortigas Avenue is ripe for a high capacity system that should perhaps be grade separated. The demand was there more than two decades ago. I seriously believe that the Province of Rizal, the City of Antipolo and the high-earning Municipalities of Cainta and Taytay should exert more effort and lobby for a mass transit line serving the Ortigas corridor.