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Jeepney Rides, Manila Overview

Popularly known as the ‘Filipino Jeepney’, the graffiti splashed jeepneys are the highlight of the metro town of Manila in the Philippines. Known to be the most common mode of public transport in Manila, the long lengthed jeepneys are stretched versions of military jeeps which were used by the Americans in World War II. Aside from the driver and a passenger or two in the front seat, the rest of the people are made to sit on the longitudinal cushioned seats installed across each other behind the front. The seats can accommodate up to 10 passengers per side (some of the longer ones can also accommodate 20 passengers per side) and can be stopped by the wave of a hand anywhere on the streets.

The flamboyant art and gaudy decorations on the jeepneys make it iconic and ubiquitous means of public transport in the Philippines, and distinguish it as a unique means of commuting. Considered to be the cultural symbol of Manila, the vibrant jeepneys are also known for their crowded seating. That means if you are to sit inside a jeepney, you should understand that your personal space will be under siege and your knees will be clanking against each other if not with other people’s. The commute is no doubt entertaining, especially for the tourists, however, any longer than 30 minutes might get a little uncomfortable and inconvenient.

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Things to know about Jeepney Rides

  1. Know your Route before boarding the Jeepney

    Before you board a jeepney, know your starting point and your destination (know the names of the stops per say). Also, find out how much time will it take to cover the distance from Point A to Point B. The best way to find this out is to ask more regular commuters or localites as there is no set schedule or map for these jeepney routes. Be sure what Jeepney you need to take and whether or not you need to switch two or more jeepneys to get to your desired location.
    Lastly to get on the Jeepney, you can wait at the Jeepney Station if there is any near your house or hotel or lodging. Alternatively, you can just wait on the streets, and simply flag down a passing one. Any jeepney can stop on the roads with a simple wave of a hand. All of these run on their demarcated routes back and forth, several times in a day.
  2. Read the Signs and Board the right Jeepney

    The Jeepneys have their destination’s name marked on the side or the windshield. Sometimes, they even have the entire route drawn. You can spot your station from here. In case, it is not mentioned, be sure to ask the driver or fellow passengers/ commuters. Some of them have the same final stop but they follow different routes, so it is crucial to know the route if you want to get down at an intermediary station. Most of these Jeepneys however, are really old and have the old names of Manila neighbourhoods. Remember to take a note of that too.
  3. Etiquettes to Follow when in the Jeepney

    You have to realize that all of these jeepneys are especially crammed, sometimes seating upto 20 people and sometimes, even a 40. Once you board one, be okay with being stuffed in really tight, especially if it is a rush hour. You will be crammed in shoulder to shoulder with your knees clanking together. So, occupy minimal space and be cordial if someone creates a fuss.
    Also, you might have to pass on payments to the driver, especially if you are sitting close to the front. People generally tend to sit near the exit to avoid crouching and hump walking on the narrow aisle.
  4. Payment System followed in the Jeepney

    There is no particular payment system. If you are sitting near the exit, you can pass on the ticket money through other passengers. But on the contrary, if you are sitting close to the driver, you will have to pass along the money. Sometimes, the driver is accompanied by an assistant who takes care of the payment. However, in the absence of one, the driver himself has to multitask between driving and collecting payments.
    Another commuter tip to carry the exact change. The jeepney rides are the most cheap and economical way to ride the city. It is recommended that you carry 10 peso coins, at the most 20 peso bills, to avoid getting short changed later on. Payments can be made anytime through the ride but most people tend to do it at the start or midway. Shout out ‘Bayad Po’ after you pay so the driver knows that the money came from you.
  5. Getting Off from the Jeepney

    When getting off the jeepney, make sure you are getting down at the right stop, especially if you are a tourist. You can also ask the assistant or your fellow commuters to warn you when you are nearing your stop. You can get the jeepney to stop by shouting ‘Para Po’ to the driver. The traditional way to get the driver to stop is clanking the coins a few times on the hand rail.
  6. To make this exchange easier, nowadays, some of the jeepneys have gotten a string installed that you can pull to ask the driver to stop. The string is connected to a small bulb on the bonnet of the driver. When the string is pulled, the bulb is lit signalling the driver to stop.

Cons of the Jeepneys

  1. As the jeepneys can halt or stop anywhere they want on the roads to load or unload passengers, they are a major cause of traffic congestion. 
  2. This sudden halting also poses a threat to the safety of the passengers getting down or getting on the jeepneys as both the drivers and the passengers jostle for space. The driver also cut in lanes from other drivers and that might create a ruckus on the street.
  3. Not to mention, the jeepneys are really old and an ancient means of transport and are therefore, a major cause of chronic air pollution. 
  4. A lot of them have balding tyres, poor emissions, and distorted subframes.
  5. The overcrowded seating at the back and the low height make visibility very poor for the drivers.
  6. There is no seat belt therefore, posing a risk for the passengers.
  7. The high staircase at the entry/ exit is very inconvenient and difficult to get on or get off. 
  8. There is very little headroom and almost no space for shopping bags or any kind of luggage.

Terminology of the Jeepneys

Barker - The assistant of the driver. These barkers shout out loud the routes of the jeepneys at the stops. They also call out to the passengers to encourage them in. They also collect the money from the passengers and give the go-head to the driver. Some people also tip the barkers.

Bayad Po
- The phrase to shout out after paying the ticket money so the driver or the barker knows that the money came from you. It means ‘My Money’.

Para Po - The phrase to shout out at your desired destination to indicate the driver to stop the jeepney. It means ‘Stop’.

Naming of the Jeepneys

The word ‘jeepney’ is supposed to be a mix of the two words- ‘jeep’ which was a word coined to define a type of military vehicle and ‘jitney’ was a word used for a shared taxi (the vehicle falls between a taxicab and a bus) which was a means of public transport in America. 

The other theory is that the word ‘jeepney’ is a combination of two words - ‘jeep’ and ‘knee’ as the passengers are supposed to be sitting in really close proximity with each other.

Shutting Down the Jeepneys

Pollution and other safety concerns branching out from the use of jeepneys have led the government to take a call to completely shut off the jeepneys that are 15 years or older, by 2020. As part of the government plan, these jeepneys will be taken off the streets. This in turn, will not only lead to the unemployment of the drivers but also of the local street artists that paint and customize them. It is ordered that the old jeepneys must be replaced by new ‘eco’ jeepneys, electric vehicles or other less polluting engines by 2020. The new jeepneys are to comply with the new standards- the mini buses will be air- conditioned, will have proper head room and will be large enough for the passengers to be able to stand up and Euro-4 compliant engines. These new jeepneys are supposed to be mass produced instead of being customised at tiny traditional workshops. For the same, big manufacturers like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Fuso and Chinese truck brands such as Foton, are being considered.

Tips

  1. Sitting closest to the driver designates you to the job of passing on ticket money.
  2. Try and carry exact change. In case, it is not possible, pass on only a 10 peso coin or at most 20 peso bill. Some of the jeepney drivers tend to lose memory of everything and that creates a hassle at the time of shortchanging.
  3. When you pay the driver via other passengers, make sure to say ‘Bayad Po’ really loud so that the driver knows that the money came from you.
  4. Sometimes these jeepneys ride really fast when the roads are empty, make sure you are careful and have all your hands and feet inside the vehicle. 
  5. Be careful about your valuables and wallets. There are passing motorcycle thieves that tend to snatch these purses and jewellery. There might be some pickpockets within the jeepney also, so be extra cautious. 
  6. Avoid being too flashy as in wearing extra jewellery or carrying too much cash. 
  7. Carry a hand fan so you can comfort yourself in the hot and humid climate.

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