Bus travel is a cheap and popular way of traveling around the Philippines. While planes are much faster, hassles with security at airports as well as frequent delays and the ticket prices not faring well to the income of an average Filipino, make buses even more useful and efficient.
Buses have more frequent departures, but they are not punctual either, as bus stations are often in congested spots in cities, and it's not uncommon for a bus to leave only if full.
There are two major categories of buses, provincial buses, which zip through the provinces to connect every major city or town, and city buses, which are less common as most places would have jeepneys instead as streets are narrow.
In this blog, I include everything you need to know about city buses (mainly based and routed from and to Metro Manila). I have written a separate detailed blog about province buses and their routes.
City Buses in the Philippines
Only a few places in the Philippines have city buses, and for most cities, jeepneys are a staple as they can negotiate the smaller streets. Unlike most systems in most of the world, city buses are run by private companies, some being affiliates or subsidiaries of the companies in the provincial bus network. City buses ply wide avenues, and routes often connect suburbs.
City buses are only available in two classes:
- Air-conditioned - 2-3 or 2-2 layout (6 seats on the rearmost row), with hard seats. The most comfortable.
- Ordinary- 2-3 layout (6 seats on the rearmost row), with hard seats. Cheaper, but are crowded, hot and often dangerous. Some companies have phased out this class of bus due to safety concern, and the few you may ride on are serving working-class suburbs.
Seating arrangements on city buses vary by vehicle regardless of class, but most should have room for 38 (for a 2-2 AC coach, a low-floor, or an ordinary) or 41 (for a 2-3 AC coach). Seats always face to the front of the bus on most vehicles, but newer low-floor vehicles will have bench seats, space for wheelchairs and strollers, standing room, and 2-2 seating (at the back behind the exit door).
Most city bus operators use long-distance buses, but with slight and subtle modifications to rush hour and frequent stop operation. Low-floor buses are slowly being available, starting with some intracity operators, and slowly spreading to all other city bus operators.
A premium bus operated by UBE Express
Express buses are available since 2016. Branded Premium Point-to-Point Bus Service (or simply as P2P) by the Philippine government, these buses, complete with luxury amenities generally available only on long-distance provincial routes, provide faster connections with central business districts, suburbs, or even provincial cities, and have only one to no stops along the route.
Fares are a flat rate, and while expensive to a working class Filipino, they are more comfortable that the widely available AC buses. P2P buses are only available in Manila and surrounding regions and provinces, and there are also routes to Baguio and Batangas.
City bus tickets are always bought from the conductor, but contactless methods can be used with some operators. A few city bus companies, mostly ones operating completely ultramodern low-floor fleets, have completely fixed fares, such as BGC Bus (which serves Bonifacio Global City or BGC in Taguig) and MyBus (which runs between Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu in Cebu).
Bus Rapid Transit
The country's first bus rapid transit (BRT), the EDSA Carousel in Metro Manila, began operation in 2020. This route, which only uses low-floor buses, run the whole length of EDSA down from the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan into SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, and into Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
Bus stops on EDSA are generally built at the median, with direct connections to MRT Line 3. However, cash is not honored, and you must have a smart card to pay fares. More BRT lines are being proposed for Metro Manila, but are yet to start operation. BRT has been planned for Cebu City as well.
These are the following routes and corresponding fare matrix of Public Utility Buses (PUBs) that will provide service to our commuters starting July 24, 2020.
These are the routes that have been open since the first week of June 2020:
- Portion of Route E (EDSA Carousel) EDSA BusWay
- Route 1 Monumento–Balagtas
- Route 2 Monument–PITX via R10
- Route 3 Monumento–Valenzuela Gateway Complex via NLEX
- Route 4 North EDSA–Fairview via Quirino Highway
- Route 5 Quezon Avenue–Angat via Commonwealth
- Route 6 Quezon Avenue–EDSA Taft (Manila)
- Route 7 Quezon Avenue–Montalban (Rodriguez, Rizal)
- Route 8 Cubao–Montalban (Rodriguez, Rizal)
- Route 9 Cubao–Antipolo *to augment LRT-2
- Route 10 Cubao–Doroteo Jose
- Route 11 Gilmore–Taytay via Ortigas Ave. Ext.
- Route 12 Pasig–Kalentong via Shaw Blvd.
- Route 13 Buendia–BGC
- Route 14 Ayala–Alabang
- Route 15 Ayala–Biñan
- Route 16 Ayala Ave–FTI
- Route 17 Monumento–EDSA Taft *to augment LRT-1
- Route 18 PITX–NAIA Loop
- Route 19 North EDSA–BGC via Luzon Avenue, C5
- Route 20 Monumento–Meycauayan via NLEX
- Route 21 Monument–San Jose Del Monte via NLEX (Marilao Exit)
- Route 22 Monumento–Angat via NLEX (Bocaue Exit)
- Route 23 PITX–Sucat
- Route 24 PITX–Alabang
- Route 25 BGC–Alabang via SLEX, Bicutan, Sucat
- Route 26 PITX–Naic via CAVITEX, Antero Soriano Hwy.
- Route 27 PITX–Trece Martires
- Route 28 PITX–Dasmariñas
- Route 29 PITX–General Mariano Alvarez
- Route 30 PITX–Cavite City
More bus routes were added on the list along the program, here are the others:
- Route 31 PITX-Lawton
- Route 32 North EDSA-Valenzuela Gateway Complex
- Route 33 Ayala-SRIT
- Route 34 PITX-SRIT
- Route 35 Ayala-Balibago
METRO MANILA BUS TRANSIT MAP
To understand thoroughly about these routes, here's a detailed infographic of bus routes in, from and to Metro Manila:
Bus Fares and Ticketing
Fares are regulated (and the same throughout the country), and generally based on distance. The fare systems are:
City bus: Mix of distance-based and zonal systems. ₱12 (ordinary: ₱10) for the first 5 km, increasing incrementally by ₱2.25 (ordinary: ₱1.75) per additional kilometer beyond that.
P2P: Flat fare, generally twice the fare of a regular bus on the same destination pairs.
Fare matrixes (tariffs) are pasted inside the bus near the driver, but don't always rely on them as fares are usually rounded off to the nearest ₱5. For seniors, students, and disabled persons, a 20% discount is available as long you produce a valid photo ID to the conductor or ticket seller. If you pay using a smart card or bought tickets online using a credit card, the exact fare is charged.
ATTRACTIONS TO SEE IN MANILA
Getting tickets is straightforward. Provincial bus tickets are bought on board through the conductor or bought at the bus station. For long-distance trips, you can also book a ticket in advance, either online (on the company website or on a booking portal like EasyBus.ph) or at the terminal or curbside stop.
ACTIVITIES AND TOURS IN MANILA
OTHER TRANSPORTATION INFO IN PH
- PITX GUIDE: Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (Routes, How To Book Ticket, How To Get There)
- Metro Manila Bus Transit Map
- List of Ferry Operators in the Philippines
- List of Airlines in the Philippines
- List of Airports in the Philippines
- List of Railways and Metro Rail Lines in the Philippines
- List of Major Roads in Metro Manila
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