Commuting in Metro Manila-Tips & Tricks

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Since Uber and Grab became mainstream, I ditched the idea of getting my own car to travel in the Metro.  Because of the hassle of commuting during rush hours, hiring these services has been my number one option.  It can be a less expensive alternative than maintaining my own vehicle.  But to be honest, it still hurts my pocket to spend more on transportation than taking the bus or MRT. My rides sum up thirty to forty percent of my monthly credit card bill and I need to cut the expense.

I have been strategic for the past weeks since January and planned my trips ahead as part of my “Simplify Goals”.  Thank God that I’m a freelancer, so I can now avoid the road from 7 am to 9 am, or 5-8 pm.  I have worked in Makati and Quezon City, and traffic in those areas are worst during these hours.  In the course of being deliberate to go back to public transport, I relearned the following lessons:

  • If you want to take the MRT, can’t avoid rush hour, and you’re coming from the North, taking Quezon Avenue or Kamuning can be a better option than lining up at North Avenue station.  There can still be a little space left for you to go in, and your chance will increase if you take the second lane (from the guard post) assigned for women.  I have tried this and worked five times in a row.
  • Buy your prepaid BEEP CARD.  Instead of lining up for tickets daily, it will save you some time if you have your own card loaded ahead.
  • Wear rubber shoes or flats if you’re taking the train.  DO NOT wear heels or skimpy skirts.  Unless you’re willing to expose your underarms, do not wear sleeveless. Go for comfort because you’ll soon need to move like a ninja.  Put your bags (even your backpack) and valuables in front of you.
  • If you’re coming from the South, you can never go wrong starting from Taft Avenue station.  It’s the best option to catch a train from the first station.
  • Try the Point-to-Point Premium Buses.  My ride from Fairview to Makati on a weekday was smooth.  It was around 2 pm, me and my sister are the only passengers.  Instead of the usual 3-hour travel from Robinsons Novaliches, it took us 1.5 hours to arrive at our destination.  Friends who take the morning ride going to their office mentioned it to be convenient, too.  Fare is only P100 and drop-off point is Ayala Triangle or Glorietta.
  • If you’re taking the usual air-conditioned or ordinary bus during rush hours, expect that you’ll more likely be standing.  But take the space not too far from the entrance, because there’s higher possibility that another passenger is about to go down and offer you a seat.   I also often stand beside a good-looking male passenger who is sitting down when I have the chance, because I can convince him through my stance to be a gentleman and give me his seat!  When I mean good-looking, I find a seemingly kind face.
  • Jeepney rides can also help you get to nearby destinations.  Find out pick-up points or terminals so that it’s easier for you to get a seat.
  • If you have no other option but to book a car, take Grab if you’re expecting traffic.  I prefer higher fixed fares than Uber surcharge which I can’t calculate.  For the non-rush hours, I always find Uber to be cheaper than Grab. Check out available promo codes you can use to get a discount.
  • If your mobile phone ran out of date or don’t have access wifi, go to the nearby malls where a Grab booth is stationed.  A personnel can book your ride for you.

Consider taking rides in the Metro as a test to hone your judgment and discernment skills.  If you have found a route or mode of transportation that is best for you, stick with that especially during occasions that you need to arrive a certain destination on time.  A classic advice would be to leave at an earlier time and give an allowance for traffic.

Suggested Links:

Sakay.ph – Commuting Made Easy

7 Tips to Become A Master Commuter

Life Lessons Learned From Commuting

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