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The metropolis has an extensive system of highways connecting the various cities and municipalities. The major roads include ten radial roads, which branch out from central Manila and five circumferential roads which form concentric arcs around downtown Manila.
Most of these circumferential roads are very important transportation arteries. One is the C-4 (Circumferential Road 4) also called Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or more popularly known as EDSA. Some other other important roads are R-1 (Radial Road 1) or Coastal Road/Manila-Cavite Road; R-3 or South Luzon Expressway (SLEX); R-7, which consists of Espana Avenue, Quezon Avenue, and Commonwealth Avenue; R-8 or the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX); and C-5 going from Bicutan to Libis (simply referred to as C-5).
However, driving in a private car is not recommended for people who are unfamiliar with Manila because many drivers there ignore such things as stoplights and lane markings and most also have no idea what right of way means (although this behavior has been decreasing significantly over the years).
Public transport is very cheap however but may get very crowded during the rush hours in the morning and early evening (7 AM to 10 AM and 4 PM to 7 PM). Traffic also tends to crawl during these times so best avoid being on the move in these occasions.
Another fact to take note is, just like any city in South-East Asia, drivers in Manila tend to be reckless, but road signages are very common, though some are not that visible, and are also well abided and respected by at least 75% of Manila drivers despite the fact that this signages are quite different from international standards because of its very dominant pink color.
When driving, be cautious of pedestrians crossing illegally. Be also aware when driving in narrow streets, where children usually play, given Manila is a crowded metropolis.
Be also aware of the existing Number-Coding Scheme, where some vehicles are not allowed to ply Metro Manila streets from 7AM to 10AM, and from 3PM to 7PM, Mondays to Fridays, i.e. cars with license plates ending in numbers 1 and 2 should not go out of the street on the said schedule every Mondays, 3 and 4 every Tuesdays, and so on and so forth. Makati City however observes the Number-Coding scheme the whole day.
The price of petroleum is relatively comparable to that paid in the US but expensive in the eyes of locals.
Jeepneys are evolved versions of the Jeep which American Armed Force units used as utility vehicles during the war years. Usually built with a reconditioned surplus diesel engine from Japan coupled to a locally fabricated chassis, jeepneys come in a wide range of colors and decorations that are limited only by the owner's/driver's imagination and taste. Over time, it has become the most common means of public transport in the Philippines.
Recently however, the introduction of more modern buses as well as the more efficient LRT and MRT have lessened the importance of the jeepney. They still do travel all over the city, particularly in routes which are too small to be serviced by buses - but know exactly where you are headed before getting on. Read our The Philippine Jeepney.
Once inside, pay your fare or "bayad" directly to the driver by telling him where you want to get off and how many people you are paying for. It is a norm all over the country that if you are seated far from the driver, one just need to say "Bayad po" while extending the hand with your fare to the driver and someone will readily take your fare and pass it until it gets to the driver. Giving back of change or "sukli" if the fare given is in a large denomination will come in a similar manner, and a polite expression of "Thank you" or "Salamat po" as a sign of gratitude is encouraged.
The fare structure begins with a minimum fare for the first four kilometers and increases every additional kilometer thereafter. As of Jan 2010 minimum fare is P 7 (14 US cts) while the per kilometer additional fare is P 1.25. Do not however expect that a driver will be able to give any change for very large denominations, e.g. P500 or P1000.
You can also request the driver to inform you that you are near to your destination. Note that loading and unloading zones for jeepneys are rarely followed so people hop on and get off practically at will. Saying "para" or "para po!" is the standard way to tell the driver that you need to get off.
Caution - Jeeps are designed to carry small people - and can get very cramped for anyone over 6ft tall particularly if the jeepney is fully loaded! This arrangement is cramped even for the size of the locals who are small by Western comparison and some would regularly complain.
Though not widely practiced, some people would pay for the price of two to avoid getting cramped by someone else as the fares are anyway extremely cheap. Jeepneys usually seat anywhere from 0 to 30 people.
The jeepney driver is honored in the Jeepney King Festival celebrated in Manila every April. Festivities include exhibitions of colorful jeepneys and fiesta caravans.
Taxis are very affordable by western standards but pretty expensive for locals and almost all are now air-conditioned and use a meter to compute for the final fare. The taxi rates start at PHP 30 (USD 0.60) for the first 500 metres and an extra PHP 2.5 (USD 0.10) for every succeeding 300-metres or 2 minutes of stopping.
Some drivers may take advantage of tourists, but closer regulation by authorities and even by mall operators, are curbing this practice slowly. Many taxis are in a poor state of repair and drivers drive erratically.
The LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) has now instituted hotline numbers to report erring drivers. Just take note of the cab name and number. Mall operators also closely monitor the operations of taxis that use their taxi racks by ensuring that cab drivers do not choose only passengers bound for nearby destinations.
Do not hire taxis waiting at bus terminals; they will charge much higher fare (100% more than normal fare). Just walk out from any main bus terminal, and you will find plenty of cabs.
Be wary especially during traffic as drivers will ask for a minimum fare higher than what the meter requires you to pay.
Also during rush hour (both morning and evening), it is not unusual to see taxi drivers hesitant to drive you if your destination involves crossing EDSA.
During the early morning, passengers are strongly advised to bring smaller denominations of bills (as well as coins) as drivers usually don't have ready change.
Buses are common in the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila and most will pass through EDSA. The common routes are as follows:
|Baclaran||Navotas||EDSA and Ayala/EDSA alone|
|Baclaran||SM Fairview||EDSA and Ayala|
|Baclaran||Malanday||EDSA and NLEX(North Luzon Expressway)|
|Baclaran||Sta. Maria, Bulacan||EDSA, Ayala, and NLEX/MacArthur Highway|
|Grotto||Ninoy Aquino International Airport||EDSA and SM Fairview|
|Malanday||Ninoy Aquino International Airport||EDSA|
|Alabang/Pacita||Navotas||SLEX(South Luzon Expressway) and EDSA|
|Alabang/Pacita||Novaliches||SLEX, EDSA and NLEX|
|Alabang||Malanday||SLEX and EDSA|
|Alabang||SM Fairview||SLEX and EDSA|
There are both ordinary and air-conditioned buses available. Conductors collect your fare once on board and they are ready with change although it is suggested you have coins during morning rush-hours ready. Just tell him/her where you want to get off.
Like the jeepneys, buses do not have route numbers identifying their routes and often do not observe loading and unloading areas except for some highly regulated zones where they are bound to get a ticket for not doing so, most notably in Makati's central business district.
As such, it is not uncommon for people to get on and off in odd places. Buses sometimes load and unload in the middle of the road and couldn't care less about the traffic they may cause. Furthermore, they don't have a timetable for when to stop at a particular area although buses bound to the same place stop at a particular area seconds from each other.
The fare structure of buses is almost the same as that of jeepneys where a fare matrix is provided and fares increase at a constant rate per kilometre after the first few kilometres.
While EDSA has a bus lane (two lanes wide on each side), these are generally packed with buses from city/provincial routes funneling down the thorughfare, and are rarely followed.
If your route/destination is along EDSA, it is best to take the MRT (see below) to avoid the traffic.
FX (minivans) are a relatively new transport mode available now. They are more expensive than jeepneys, but cheaper than taxis. FX follow the jeepney practice of having a fixed route but like taxis are usually air-conditioned. You likely will have to share the ride as the FX can take up to 10 passengers at a time, but it's reasonably comfortable.
Tricycles (motorcycles with modified side cars) These are common for short trips in areas where jeepneys do not travel. In Manila proper you are unlikely to see any. However, in outlying suburbs and towns they are more common. Another variant is the pedicab which is merely a bicycle with a side car.
Travelling by rail is so far, the safest option. Here are some options to choose from:
There the LRT which is run by the Light Rail Transit Authority or LRT.
The LRT has two lines. Line 1 (also known as the Yellow Line) runs along Taft Avenue from Baclaran in Paranaque to the Bonifacio Monument in Kalookan City.
Line 2 (also known as the Purple Line) runs from Santolan in Pasig to Recto in the heart of downtown Manila.
MRT The Metro Rail Transit (also known as Line 3 or the Blue Line) is a light rail transit system that runs along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, one of the main thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
The MRT runs from the North Avenue Station in Quezon City to the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City. Fares are cheap (15 pesos for the entire length) and it is air conditioned albeit quite crowded during the morning and early evening rush hours.
Entering the system requires a ticket which like other countries, must be inserted onto the turnstile. Alternatively, contactless plastic cards are increasingly becoming available to access the system although surcharges to both top-up the card and to pay for actual travel apply.
Single-journey and stored-value tickets are available for each of the lines. You can transfer between lines at the following areas:
However, unlike most other countries, you will need to exit the system and purchase a separate ticket to ride on the other lines except if you're in possession Strong Republic Transit Flash Pass.
It is not recommended to walk in Manila since many street sides are infested with vendors and peddlers. If walking is inevitable, just remember that you should always walk on areas were pedestrians walk (common sense), and crossing a street is not a problem, if you know how to cross the street correctly.
Walking at night is not also recommended, especially for women. Walking in groups is a safe option if you are going at night.
The business district of Makati is walkable as well as Taguig.
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