Metro Manila · Bus
Buses are the true kings of the road in Metro Manila. They ply the major roads as well as the highways. They have seating for 50 to 60 people but in full capacity, which is standard during rush hour, they can accommodate 100 people. Here is all you should know about riding the bus in and around the Megacity.
The vehicles range from almost ancient, with wooden chairs and without air-condition or windowpanes, to fully-equipped buses with 'entertainment systems'. Since traffic in the metro can be quite annoying and test the patience of commuters, many buses have television sets that usually show the latest action movies on pirated DVDs - a welcome respite for many Filipinos who are on their way home from work.
Once you get in, you will be asked where you want to go down by a ticket collector who comes to your seat. You will get your ticket and then pay the price stated on the ticket. If doing this the first time it takes some moments to decrypt the ticket and figure out what the price to pay is. The fare starts at 12 pesos for the shortest trips within Metro Manila. You can only pay in cash and it is recommended to bring some coins or smaller bills.
There are two types of buses, city buses and provincial buses.
The regular buses commute and make their ways through the Megacity. Their destinations and main stops are written on cardboards in the front window. You can stop them almost anywhere, with an outstretched hand to hop on and by telling the driver "para po" to hop off. Only in some of the busy main roads, such as Ayala Avenue and EDSA, bus traffic is more regulated. Along EDSA, many buses merely halt at every other stop. They are marked with either an A or a B in the windshield. Check this info graphic to see which bus stops where.
A general word of advise: Never take a city bus after nightfall - it's too dangerous. Robberies and hold-ups occur quite often on those buses at night.
Buses for longer distances can only be taken at the terminals of the bus companies and at major bus stops. Those buses travel to the countryside outside the Megacity and are your way to get to the pristine beaches or breath-taking mountains. You usually buy the tickets at the terminal and hop on the bus stated on your ticket. In other cases the tickets are sold directly in the bus. There are schedules which a roughly followed, though usually the buses only leave one all seats are taken. Sometimes you can choose between different kinds of buses, such as regular ones and luxury coaches. For more information, see our main article about Bus Tripping Over Land.
Check out the destinations, schedules and terminals of the major provincial bus companies here:
Globetrotters love to tell stories of how they survived a bus trip in a developing country, crammed not only with people but also with chickens and piglets, with passengers sitting on the rooftop, and with a reckless driver who never slows down, no matter how sharply the road bends. In reality, bus tripping in the Philippines is more comfortable and secure than that, but it can be an adventure nevertheless.