By far, the most popular vehicles for transportation in the cities and other urban centers of the Philippines are the jeepneys and motorized tricycles. There are buses and trains as well, and they’re good for getting across long distances. It’s mainly the jeepneys and tricycles, however, that get people across shorter distances.
Jeepneys and tricycles are the least expensive means of passenger transportation. Within Olongapo City, you can get anywhere for less than $10 USD. Most of the time, passengers spend far less.
The first jeepneys were created from American jeeps left over from World War II. The most modern jeepneys look nothing like them. They look more like mini-buses than anything else. I avoid riding in the older jeepneys because of how long I know I’ll have to hunch over to keep from hitting my head on the inside roof.
Jeepney drivers are famous for squeezing in more people than their jeepneys are supposed to hold. They don’t make much per passenger. The fare is around 15 pesos or around 28 cents USD. Due to rising fuel prices, their income isn’t much after the cost of the diesel they use.
Most of the tricycles are motorcycles with covered sidecars. You can see pedal-driven tricycles in rural provincial areas, but rarely in the city. They’re just too slow to compete with traffic. I avoid riding in most tricycles because they’re uncomfortable. I wasn’t comfortable when I rode in them back in the eighties, when I was much thinner than I am today.
My two brothers-in-law are tricycle drivers. I paid several thousand dollars for their vehicles, but the highest expenses were the body numbers. The city government stopped issuing body numbers years ago, and the only way to get them is to get them from former drivers. The going rate for each body number is around 100,000 pesos or around $2,000 USD.
Most restrictions are policies put in place by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). One of them is that a private tricycle isn’t allowed to carry a passenger other than a spouse (or possibly their child). All I know is that one of my brothers-in-law, before he got a body number, had to let one of my sisters-in-law out or an LTO employee was going to impound his vehicle.
I sold my car a month or two ago (I really don’t remember) because I wasn’t driving it. It wasn’t worth keeping since I had only driven it twice in six months. I bought it in 2015, and it had less than 20,000 kilometers on it when I sold it.
There are taxi and ride-hailing services available. The husband of one of my sisters-in-law, Alex, is a taxi driver with a service based at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. I can’t remember when he started, but he’s been with them for more than a few years. When I need to go shopping, which is usually once a month, I let Alex take me. The other ride-hailing services, which came later than his service, are effectively cutting into his income.
Image by Lawrence Ruiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons