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?
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.
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.
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”
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.
The current initiative to rationalise road public transport services is not as comprehensive as necessary or as some people want us to believe. The drive appears to be mainly on (some say against) jeepneys while little has been done on buses and UV Express vehicles. Most notable among the modes not covered by rationalisation are the tricycles.
A smoke-belching tricycle along Daang Bakal in Antipolo City
What really should be the role and place of tricycles in the scheme of themes in public transportation? Are they supposed to provide “last mile” services along with walking and pedicabs (non-motorised 3-wheelers)? Or are they supposed to be another mode competing with jeepneys, buses and vans over distances longer than what they are supposed to be covering? It seems that the convenient excuse for not dealing with them is that tricycles are supposed to be under local governments. That should not be the case and I believe national agencies such as the DOTr and LTFRB should assert their authority but (of course) in close cooperation with LGUs to include tricycles in the rationalisation activities. Only then can we have a more complete rationalisation of transport services for the benefit of everyone.
Tacloban City has what is called a new transport terminal located to the northwest of downtown and across from the new Robinsons mall in the area. Here are a few photos of the terminal taken earlier this year.
Vendors selling mostly food items including local delicacies
The City Treasurer’s Office has a makeshift post at the terminal to collect fees from transport operators including buses and vans using the terminal.
The terminal hosts an Extension Office of the City Treasurer and also has a K-9 unit to help keep the terminal safe and secure. The dogs work regularly to sniff out illegal substances that may be carried by people using the terminal.
Passengers wait for their buses or vans at the terminal.
The waiting area is not air-conditioned but is relatively cool and is clean.
Another view of the passengers’ waiting lounge
Passengers may purchase bus tickets at the terminal prior to boarding a bus.
The same goes with vans including those called mega taxis
View of the front of the terminal
A view of the terminal from the transport parking lot
A view of the terminal from mall across from it. Note the sign at the left side of the photo? The office of the city’s traffic management and enforcement unit (TOMECO) is located at the second floor of the terminal.
Tacloban hopes to continue development of the terminal area that will eventually be expanded to have an even larger lounge for passengers, a hotel and more commercial spaces aside from berths for public transportation.