Day 3: LRT is tops again; jeepney is last
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:50:00 08/07/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- The train kept a-rollin’—and took people to their destination in a jiffy.
On the last day of the “Rush-hour commute” race of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and INQUIRER.net on Wednesday which covered the Baclaran to Monumento route, the LRT emerged as the fastest and by far still the best mode of transportation in Metro Manila.
The race was aimed at determining the fastest and cheapest commute during rush hour.
Team LRT, composed of Tere Cruz and Tsai Montegrande of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Izah Morales of INQUIRER.net, found the queue at the ticket booth of the Baclaran station surprisingly light at 8 a.m., considering it was a Wednesday.
In two minutes the women of Team LRT were inside the train. They noticed that it needed repairs because some of the lights were not working. They also felt warm inside the air-conditioned coach.
The bulk of passengers came from the EDSA station; more were seen boarding from the Libertad and Gil Puyat stations. By that time the train was a standing-room-only affair. But the volume of passengers began to thin out as the train approached the Vito Cruz station.
The team arrived in Monumento in Caloocan City at 8:34 a.m. after traversing 15 kilometers and 18 stations. The best part of it all: not a whiff of pollution as the train whizzed by.
Team Car, composed of Tessa Salazar, Maricris Tamolang, Emman Cena and Amy Rañola of Inquirer and Alex Villafania of INQUIRER.net, led a four-vehicle convoy and took one hour to complete a 17-kilometer stretch.
It traversed Roxas Boulevard, Burgos Avenue, McArthur Bridge going to Sta. Cruz, Manila, Abad Santos and Rizal Avenue. Numerous choke points, such as the stoplights at nearly every intersection along with the unpredictable jeepneys, slowed the team down.
The fuel consumption estimate for the Mercedes Benz S-Class (3.5 liter V6 engine) for the stretch was P212 to P219 (consuming 3.66 liters of gasoline). The 1.3-liter Toyota Vios consumed about P50 (0.84 liters). The Toyota Prius hybrid car (electric-gasoline engine) consumed P56 to P58 (.97 liters—surprisingly more than the Vios), and a 1.1-liter Chana Multicab needed 2.10 liters of gasoline, or P120 to P126 at prevailing pump prices.
Team Taxi, composed of Ken del Rosario of Inquirer and Jane Octia of INQUIRER.net, reported that the cab driver suggested a shorter route to Monumento. But they could not take that route because of the traffic buildup. According to the cab driver, the traffic gets worse at around 10 a.m. when devotees flock to the Baclaran church.
The only delay it encountered was a gridlock on Quirino Avenue in Manila and a traffic buildup on 5th Avenue in Caloocan.
Team Taxi finished third. It paid P175 for the 56-minute trip.
Team Jeepney, composed of Pocholo Concepcion and Fran Gumapac of Inquirer and Lawrence Casiraya of INQUIRER.net, finished last and discovered riding the jeepney from Baclaran to Monumento was an exercise in stress management.
There were moments when it was like getting caught in a long funeral hearse; and then suddenly it felt like being rushed in an ambulance.
Finding the jeepney itself was difficult, especially if one has not traveled the route in a long time. A rerouting scheme in Baclaran has forced the jeepneys coming from Monumento via Mabini Street to make a detour in Pasay Rotonda. Standing on F.B. Harrison St. near Baclaran, the team were left with no choice but to take two rides—first was to board a Divisoria-bound jeepney, get off at Harrison Plaza across the Bangko Sentral, and then wait for another jeepney bound for MCU.
The first ride got stuck in a choke-point on Roxas Boulevard’s service road a few meters away from Heritage Hotel, before it slowly wound its way to make a U-turn along EDSA Extension and then turn right to F.B. Harrison in Pasay City. Traffic slowed down at the corner of Libertad St.
It took around 20 minutes waiting for the second ride at Harrison Plaza. Another slowdown occurred at the Manila Zoo approaching Quirino Ave.
Traffic was light along Mabini all the way to T.M. Kalaw and Taft Avenue—which goaded the jeepney driver to step on the gas and race like Michael Schumacher on a rampaging comeback.
It was a relief that Rizal Avenue in Sta. Cruz, Manila has been reopened to vehicles; however, the pockmarked road jarred the senses and seemed to transport the team in a rough rodeo game.
The scene was depressing on Blumentritt Street, where demolished shanties left a mother and her child staring into space beside a few belongings.
The entire trip took two hours and 10 minutes. Fare was P25.50—P8.50 from Baclaran to Harrison Plaza, and P17.00 from Harrison to Monumento. Those who can catch the jeepney from Pasay Rotunda will pay only P23.00.
Everything would’ve been bearable, except for the air pollution. Reports from Tere Cruz, Tessa Salazar, Pocholo Concepcion and INQUIRER.net