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Foreigners Guide on How to Ride a Jeepney in the Philippines

The jeepney is the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They are known around the world for their flamboyant decorations which became a symbol of Philippine culture and art. In fact, no two jeepneys are alike because of the differences in artworks and accessories. Millions of Filipinos rely on them everyday to get from one point to another because the fare is cheaper compared to other public transportation.

Riding on a jeepney can be quite an experience especially for foreigners as there is nothing like it in other countries. Here are some reminders if you plan to ride a jeepney while visiting the Philippines:

1. No air-conditioning – Though there are air-conditioned versions of the jeepney in some cities, a majority of them still have open windows. This means you are exposed to the heat, smoke, and dusts outside during the trip. So be sure to have a hanky or small towel with you to cover your nose if needed. You may want to carry a fan or ‘pamaypay’ that you can use as it can get a bit hot inside the jeepney especially during heavy traffic.

2. It can become crowded – It is common especially during rush hours (7am-9am and 5pm-9pm) that jeepneys are always full and crowded inside. If there are no more seats available, men tend to just stay standing at the back of the jeepney holding on to the handles to avoid falling (commonly known as ‘sabit’). You would see people happily seating on top of the jeepney in some provinces.

3. It can get loud – You will be surprised that some of the jeepneys are equipped with a loud sound system. This is mainly to overcome the boredom and make the jeepney feel funky or cool to be on. Some would also have dancing lights inside to make it more appealing to passengers especially at night.

4. It can get bumpy – There are some (not all) jeepney drivers who tends to drive so fast to complete the journey the quickest possible. Consider holding tight to the handles during this time. Some like the idea because they get to their destination quickly but others (mostly old folks) are against it as for them its not safe.

As a safety reminder–

1. Keep your cellphone – As much as possible avoid using cellphone while inside a jeepney. This is to avoid from becoming a victim of snatchers or holdapers. They could be coming from outside the jeepney or in some cases pretending to be one of the passengers.

2. Do not wear expensive jewelries – Expensive jewelries are targets of unlawful people. To avoid getting their attention, its best that you put away any expensive jewelries first and just wear them back when you get to your destination.

3. Hold on to handles – Since there are no seatbelts, always hold on to the handles above your head or in the windows. This is keep you on your seat in case the jeepney suddenly stop.

4. Keep your bag(s) in front of you – This is to make sure anything valuable inside your bag are protected from anyone with evil hands. They could become tricky sometimes so be alert.

5. Do not put any part of your body outside the window – Just a precaution to avoid you from getting hurt.

Getting Your Jeepney

Getting a jeepney in the streets/highways is as easy as getting a taxi. You just need to make sure that you are standing on the side of the road where its not illegal to load/unload passengers otherwise jeepneys won’t stop to pick you up. A lot of the street signs in the Philippines are in English so you won’t have a problem but in case if you see a sign saying “Bawal magsakay at magbaba”, it means jeepneys and other public transportations are not allowed to load/unload passengers in that area. Drivers would also warn you about this and point you to where you should be standing.

Step 1: Find your jeepney – Jeepneys only cover specific routes so make sure that you are waiting for them at the right stop. If unsure, ask someone where you could find the jeepneys that cover your destination.

Step 2: Get your jeepney – Now that you know where your jeepneys are, all you have to do is to be patient and wait. If you see an incoming jeepney, check its route singage located at the front windshield (usually left side) to make sure that it cover your destination before you signal it to stop. A jeepney without a signage in front means it is not picking up passengers. To make them stop, just extend your hand as if you are pointing to the other side of the road (similar to what you do when getting a cab). A jeepney won’t stop if its already full.

Note: To double check and to make sure that you don’t get lost, ask the driver first before you get inside the jeepney. You can also ask him to drop you off where you intend to go.

Step 3: Pay the fare – Right after you get inside the jeepney and have your seat, you can immediately pay the fare. Just say “Bayad po!” while handing your payment to the driver. If you are far from the driver, don’t worry as it is customary for other passengers to help you hand your payment to the driver. The minimum fare as of 2013 is Php 8.00 for the first 1 km per person. Best to ask the driver or conductor if unsure of the exact fare. They would normally ask you to add more if in case the amount you gave is insufficient.

Note: Avoid paying Php 500 or Php 1000 bills as the driver/co-pilot may find it hard to get the change. So prepare smaller bills.

Step 4: Getting off the jeepney – There are two ways to stop the jeepney:
1) By pulling the string located right over your head. This signals the driver to stop.
2) If there is no string, just tell the driver to stop by saying ‘Para’ (it means stop).

Enjoy the ride!

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