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Commuting from/to Antipolo via the public transport terminal at Robinsons Antipolo

I was at the Robinsons Antipolo public transport terminal to take a P2P bus to Ortigas. I took a few photos before boarding the bus. The bus no longer terminates at Robinsons Galleria but instead goes to Greenhills. This is very convenient for people who need to go to Virra Mall or somewhere in its vicinity (e.g., Cardinal Santos Medical Center, LSGH, etc.).

Then there are the buses plying the Antipolo-Cubao route via Sumulong Highway-Marcos Highway-Aurora Boulevard. These are regular aircon buses (not P2P) operated by various companies including G-Liner, RRCG, Jayross, etc. Below are photos of Diamond Star buses loading passengers bound for Cubao.

The lines can be very long depending on the time in the morning but I guess the assurance of a seat makes it worthwhile to go to the terminal rather than wait for the bus along its route. Passengers loads are practically back to pre-pandemic levels and with some jeepneys back, that means competition for the buses.

Provincial bus services via the transport terminal at Robinsons Antipolo

Robinsons Antipolo recently announced the daily trip schedule for provincial destinations for the transport terminal at the mall. These are for destinations in the Bicol region and the Visayan Islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol. These will likely travel via Rizal’s “backdoor” through Teresa, Morong, Tanay and Pililla and proceed through the Laguna towns of Pangil, Pakil, Paete, Lumban and Pagsanjan, before going through Quezon province via Luisiana, Lucban towards Lucena, where there is a major bus. From Lucena, the trip will then take the usual routes through Bicol. Here is the posting from the Robinsons Antipolo Facebook page:

There are three bus companies serving the routes mentioned above and as shown at the bottom of the poster. While I am familiar with the routes in Bicol (I have experienced traveling by bus all the way to Gubat, Sorsogon, which is my mother’s hometown and where we have many close relatives.), I have not experienced crossing to Samar via Matnog. I have been to both Samar and Leyte and have crossed the San Juanico Bridge many times so I know how long those trips can be. The highways now are better and I assume the buses offer more comfortable rides so its the ferry (RORO) crossing between Matnog and Allen that will be the slowest and perhaps most uncertain part of the trip. I say uncertain because if the weather is not good, the coast guard will halt the ferry services. I was surprised there was a connection to Bohol. That is not a short trip from Leyte to Bohol. And I was expecting a service to Cebu instead, which was closer and had regular ferry services between Leyte and Cebu islands.

I don’t know about the demand for these services or routes. I hope these are sustainable and sustained as it offers an alternative for people residing in Rizal and nearby areas who want to go to Bicol, Samar, Leyte or Bohol via these routes.

Antipolo’s bus port

I like taking photos of aircraft of various airlines in airports. Among the photos I like taking are of their tails aligned to show the different airlines docked at the terminals. As we were stopped at an intersection just across from the Robinsons Antipolo public transport terminal, the wife took this photo of buses at the terminal. To me, the terminal has become somewhat like a bus port; with buses serving the long distance routes between Cubao in Quezon City and Antipolo in Rizal province. That’s about 20+ kilometers via Marcos and Sumulong Highways.

What used to be a small amusement part has been cleared prior to the lockdown in March and the area now functions as a parking lot for buses serving the Antipolo-Cubao via Masinag Junction and Antipolo-Ortigas Center routes. The latter was already operational prior to the lockdown with P2P buses leaving every 30 minutes.

When the Antipolo-Cubao bus route first started operation when Rizal and Metro Manila first transitioned to GCQ, there were three (3) companies operating along the route – G-Liner, RRCG and EMBC. All used air-conditioned buses. Before MECQ in early August, there were additional companies including those that deployed regular or non-aircon buses. I will try to take more photos of the terminal, the buses and the paratransit providing local transport (i.e., within Antipolo). These are tricycles of different models including the conventional motorcycles with sidecar, the tuktuks, and the e-trikes.

The plight of commuters during GCQ

I write this on the eve of the imposition of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). It is another unfinished article that was intended to be a quick post showing the typical conditions for commuters during the GCQ. Public transport supply was slow to return to adequate levels as the government took advantage of restrictions to impose route rationalization and modernization programs. The following scenes were common along my commuting routes:

Commuters waiting for a ride near the provincial capitol

The rains of the wet season added to the misery of the wait.

Long queue at the public transport terminal at Robinsons Antipolo, which is the terminus for buses connecting Antipolo with Cubao and Ortigas Center.

The queue reaches beyond the shaded areas of the terminal.

I think national government should be the one to provide for the public transport needs of frontliners (i.e., health care workers including doctor, nurses, medical technologists, pharmacists, etc.) and other essential workers. My definition of the latter are those required for logistics to function as well as those to ensure the required production or manufacturing for the rest of us who need to stay at home. Not everyone has the same, fair circumstances as there are those who can afford to stay at home and those who need to work for them to live, often on a day-to-day basis.

The pandemic has taken a toll not only on the physical but the mental health of many of us. Government rants and retorts are unnecessary and uncalled for given its dismal performance. I dare say dismal as the evidence shows certain local government units and the Office of the Vice President doing much, much more despite their limited resources. We are not in this quandary because government performed well and to the best of their people’s abilities. If that was their best then they have no business staying in their positions. If our health care system fails, then there is nothing to stop this pandemic from claiming much more than lives.