In the last few months, amid the heat and tension of the electoral contests, I learned a lot of things about myself, the people I call my “friends,” and my country. The lessons I learned from this most recent election will need a separate post, meant for another day when I am least likely to give in to tears. But from today, I will try to look at my country with more forgiving eyes and write about something that works, be it an an idea or a service, to remind us that contrary to what we are constantly being told, we are headed towards the right direction. Progress may be slow, and it may not affect or benefit all of us at once, but as long as we continue to work together as brothers and sisters under one sun, there is hope for us yet.
These days, I find myself giving up on city travel most of the time. Not even the enticement of a new movie and buffet dinner can budge me from the comfort and safety of our home. Gone are the the days when I would readily hop on a tricycle, hang on a jeepney, flag down a cab, or even squeeze myself with the teeming crowds in the MRT. At my age, I don’t feel like I have the stamina or the patience to bear with traffic and high people volume anymore. And so I am rarely out of the house, if I can help it. With my agoraphobia and claustrophobia in full gear, you can bet that you will find me at home 99 times out of a hundred.
Sometimes, however, you need to step out of your comfort zone to rediscover the world. One such opportunity came up a couple of months ago and I readily said yes, never mind that my anxieties over vehicles and traffic were at an all-time high. I rode with my husband in the morning, slogging through an hour and a half of slow moving traffic to get from Quezon City to Makati. At least my fears were temporarily quelled, with A♥ beside me. At the back of my mind, however, I knew I had to make the ride back home by myself, and this was a cause for worry. I had two choices: use Uber, which would be expensive but safe, or wait for A♥ to finish work and go home with him then, which would mean being away from Alphonse for almost a whole day.
Fortunately, Facebook came to the rescue. It was serendipitous that at 5am that same Monday morning, I found a shared article on the Point to Point Premium Bus on my newsfeed. It seemed like an answered prayer.
I convinced A♥ to let me try the bus. I knew he had reservations because I really don’t go anywhere without him, but Alphonse also needed me at home. For someone with little experience riding a public bus, I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing, a surprise in itself. Thus, at 3:15pm, I found myself being dropped off at the P2P bus stop. I made it in time for the 3:30pm departure to Quezon City.
The P2P bus from Makati to QC is run by Froelich Tours on behalf of the Department of Transportation and Communivation (DOTC). Launched as an adjunct to transit services last December, it was meant to be a stop gap solution to the shortage of available transportation experienced by the riding public every Christmas season. Operating on the framework of timed departures and arrivals at specific points, the P2P bus system is widely used in many countries all over the world. Within this same system, bus drivers are paid fixed wages instead of boundaries/quota and commission-based earnings.
It took the bus I rode exactly 45 minutes to traverse the section of EDSA from the pick-up point at Glorietta 5 to the drop-off at TriNoma. The bus ride, while a bit jerky and bouncy –it’s a bus, really, what do I expect?– was uneventful and quiet. The driver, unlike other bus drivers in EDSA jockeying for position, was careful and did not weave in and out lanes, one of my biggest bus pet peeves. Inside, the bus was clean, swept, and odor-free, the seats were comfortable, and the upholstery was intact and new. Air conditioning worked well, with cold air blowing generously out of the vents unimpeded.
In the last two months, I’ve taken the P2P bus from Quezon City to Makati and vice versa many times. Not all the buses are the same, and some are clearly nicer than others, but for P55, it is definitely a good deal. I hope more people would patronize this service, even as it begins spreading out to other parts of the city. Imagine if ALL buses were point to point and on time, then, the riding public would have a reliable service at our disposal. Perhaps then, the MRT would be able to receive the rehabilitation it sorely needs, without crippling the whole city in its wake.
The following are the routes currently in operation. For more information (maps, fare matrix), please visit the DOTC website (link here).
Trinoma to Glorietta 5 (North EDSA to Makati)
Alabang Town Center to Greenbelt 1 (Ortigas to Makati)
SM North EDSA to SM Megamall (North EDSA to Ortigas)
Robinson’s Galleria to Park Square (Ortigas to Makati)