People of the Philippines, there is hope for us yet! There’s a bright glimmer of hope for our public transportation here in Metro Manila. Last December (2015), the DOTC, MMDA and LTFRB started a project called the Point-to-Point (P2P) Holiday Non-Stop Premium Bus which provided buses that would go directly to and from Makati-Quezon City and Makati-Ortigas. The project was aimed at providing a safe, comfortable and efficient alternative to the riding public, especially to car-owners (in the hopes that they would commute instead) during the busy holiday season. The goal was to lessen the number of private cars on the road, especially for those travelling to and from the business districts.
The best parts about the P2P Premium Buses are the following:
- They follow a schedule! It departs every 30 minutes (during peak hours), even if it’s not yet full.
- The buses are new. They can’t be older than 2 years. Therefore: clean, comfy and cool (malamig).
- A P2P bus has no stops in-between. It only goes from the point of origin to its destination. Therefore taking the “slightly less crowded” lanes of EDSA.
- Standing-room is not allowed. Passengers will need to take the next bus once all seats are taken.
- The fares are afforadable. Much cheaper than taking a cab, a GrabTaxi/Car or an Uber. Comparable to UV Express rates.
What a brilliant idea! So needless to say, I was eager to try it out! Back then (December) the Premium Buses had a low turn out of passengers, probably because people didn’t know yet that the service already exists. Today (January 2016), people have already caught up with it and passengers are starting to line up. In fact, due to a lot of positive feedback, the service will continue and the project is being set up for expansion (Hooray!).
But before I discuss the recent updates, let me share with you what I experienced during my trip…
So on December 11, 2015 (a dreaded Friday), since I was headed to Trinoma in Quezon City, I opted to hunt for the Makati P2P Bus terminal located near Glorietta. It’s less of a terminal, but more of a designated area. I found it in the street between Dusit Thani Hotel and Park Square (near Family Mart).
Just to be sure, look for this sign located in front of the bus…
The bus was indeed brand new. The armrests, reading lights, and airconditioning were all in good working condition. There were even seatbelts!
After a quick count, I found out that this bus can carry up to 45 people. During that trip however, the bus was only half full. In fact, I had my row all to myself! It felt like I was going on a field trip.
To my surprise, the bus left at exactly 5:30PM (despite being only half-full). The bus passed by Ayala Avenue then turned for EDSA.
After a few minutes, the conductor started collecting our fare. Back then, it was PHP60 per passenger. They amended this however and now (as of January 2016) the new fare is PHP55 for the Makati-QC route.
Of course, this bus is not a miracle solution. You’ll still pass by the typical dread of EDSA but here’s the difference: 1) You’re not worried of your rising meter in case traffic gets all effed up (vis-a-vis TAXI), 2) You’re not worrying about emptying your car’s gas tank (vis-a-vis private car), 3) You’re comfortably seated in a cool bus that doesn’t stop at every intersection (vis-a-vis regular bus), 4) You’re not a sardine getting squished amongst angry
wrestlers strangers in the MRT.
Because it was a Friday, I was already prepared to camp-out for a 3-hr ride in case all hell breaks loose on EDSA. It was a December Friday after all. I even brought water, snacks, and a shawl! Much to my surprise though, we arrived in Trinoma after just 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s a miracle!
I think that the no-stop policy made all the difference! We were able to avoid some of the busy intersections and used the more direct lanes in EDSA.
I chatted with the conductor and the driver that night and sang praises for them. They said that it’s up to the public if this project will continue or not. I told them that I will do my best to promote it. (FB, Twitter, word of mouth, etc.) I even tweeted the proper authorities to congratulate them on a job well done. :D
Now that the Holidays are over, I was worried about the future of this project. It was such a good idea, and I really prayed that it would continue in 2016 (and onwards).
January 2016 Updates
The P2P Premium Buses will continue! There will even be new routes in a few months’ time. According to a January 7, 2016 press release from the LTFRB…
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has granted an extension of the special permit for the temporary Premium Point-to-Point (P2P) Bus Service until January 31 in view of the popularity of the service.
“We are pleased with the positive reception of the bus service, given the increase in ridership over the holidays. The service offers the riding public access to a convenient transportation option that can attract private car owners to shift to public transportation,” said Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya.”
Originally until January 6, the bus service is currently operated by Fröhlich Tours, a tourist transport operator, under a special permit issued by the LTFRB.
Premium P2P Bus Service to be Awarded this Month
The LTFRB is in the process of selecting bus operators for several premium P2P routes, linking several high-traffic origin and destination points, such as Makati, Ortigas Center, Alabang, and Fairview starting June 2016. The winning premium P2P bus operators have the option to operate an interim service while the required buses are being manufactured.
The buses should be equipped with modern features, such as automatic fare collection system, global positioning system devices, on-board closed-circuit television cameras, and free wifi. In line with environmental sustainability, buses should be compliant with Euro IV emissions standards or better, or run on clean alternative fuels, such as electric or hybrid vehicles.
To enhance the mobility of persons with special concerns, especially persons with disabilities and the elderly, buses are required to have low floor height, ranging from 0.28 to 0.38 meters, and space for one passenger with wheelchair and a foldable or retractable ramp at entry for easier boarding and alighting.
Bus drivers a paid a fixed salary and benefits, with no incentives for ridership, preventing the on-street competition among buses. Off-street loading and unloading areas will be designated to avoid obstructing the roads.
So, more routes, stringent requirements, and fair pay for the drivers. It’s a win-win! Something tells me that the Beep Cards currently being used in the LRT and MRT will soon be usable for these buses too. *fingers crossed*
They are even testing out DOUBLE-DECKER BUSES!
Omfg! :D Yay for bigger passenger capacity.
Here’s a tweet from LTFRB…
CHEERS TO PROGRESS!
There is hope for us people. Don’t pack your bags just yet. Yes, this will take time. Yes, this is just a small solution to ease Metro Manila’s road congestion. But still! You gotta give credit where it’s due! This is a job well done! *insert applause*
I am fervently praying that our government will spearhead more projects like this. We need as many feasible options as possible. I would still love a comprehensive underground railway, but clearly, that won’t happen anytime soon, so I will take what I can get.
Let’s support the P2P Premium Bus. Save some cash and save yourself from the typical headaches. Grab a book and just read while you’re comfortably riding out EDSA traffic. Take advantage of this bright idea and spread the word!
MAPS FOR THE DROP-OFF POINTS
Currently, the stations/drop-off points are located at SM North EDSA, Trinoma, SM Megamall to Park Square Ayala & Glorietta 5 (vice versa). For your reference, here are the locations of the P2P Premium Bus Terminals.
P2P BUS SCHEDULE
Here’s the new daily trip schedule of the Point to Point Bus Service:
Let’s go, Philippines!
PS: Please ensure that we use these buses properly. Try not to litter or leave your trash behind kei? If we want 1st world service, let’s act like 1st world citizens. :)
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