If you are traveling across the Metro Manila, there is a good chance that you will end up in a jeepney at some point. People love them and people hate them but everyone end up using one before they leave. Filipinos have no choice: it is the only affordable way to travel.
After World War II and having alot of military from the United States in the Philippines; there was a surplus of Willys Jeeps that was offloaded to the local Filipinos very cheaply. Over time, the locals modified them and them usable to transport people around so the owner could make a little money. It was so popular by 1964, a jeepney was feuterated at the World Fair in New York City.
Since then, the jeepney has become something that the government in the Philippines sees a need to monetize themselves. There is licenses, business fees and fare regulations. As of February 2016, the current fare for most trips is P7.50. Most drivers just ask for seven pesos.
What you need to know about the Jeepney in Manila
If you are using one, all you need to do is wait for it to come by, wave it down and get on. Each of them has signs in the front window telling you where it is going and it is also written on the side of it as well. If you are the beginning of the route, there will be a Filipino yelling at the top of his lungs the route to annoy everyone within a kilometer.
The one thing about getting on a jeepney at the beginning of a route is they become very, very crowded. The matrix for filling up one is simple, “there is always room for one more.” It is not uncommon for them to completely overloaded and if you are bigger than the average Filipino; that could become a problem.
Another issue you might think about is a dozen stranger is a small place in the Philippines could become a recipe for pick pocketing. I am not saying that will would happen but I am saying the opportunity would present itself to the small time criminal.
The good news is most routes have at least one jeepney going down it at all hours of the day. The bad news of this is if you are a woman or not very street smart; I would not recommend using the jeepney late at night. There has been cases where a passengers was raped on a jeepney. It is something to be mindful about.
With those things said, you can have quite the cultural experience in Manila riding the jeepney. Just make sure you know where you going, where to get off and remember before you depart to pay the driver for his service. You should really enjoy the journey.
One final thing about taking a jeepney is they are put out a serious among of smog. If you want to keep your lungs healthy; I would suggest getting one of those things the Chinese where that look like a doctor’s mask.
Jeepney or Tourist Bus?
If you are not up to riding one (and not everyone is), you might try and the air conditioned buses that run most of the same routes. They tend to be much more comfortable and you don’t have the smog issue.
I would compare running these buses to using the famous Greyhound or Jefferson Lines bus in the United States. They are very similar. They are not quite that nice but a huge step up from what I have seen in Vietnam and Cambodia.
I would say that the bus cost a little more than the jeepney on average. It is not alot more than but a little. What would be P7.50 on a jeepney is P10 on the bus. I guess the comfortable makes up for the difference.
With that said, if you are a tourist in Manila; I would do the jeepneys at least one time. It is a cultural experience.