Catching taxis and driving your own car are the more obvious ways to get around Manila, but, even at the best of times, the roads are held hostage to traffic congestion. A convenient alternative is to use the train systems that criss-cross Manila, as you’ll find that they get you to many main destinations far quicker than going by car (and with fewer beeping horns). Also, it’s a nice way to immerse yourself in Filipino culture… a little snippet of real life.
The Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system plies the route all the way along EDSA from Taft Avenue in Pasay to Balintawak, near the start of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), passing through Makati, Ortigas, Cubao and Quezon City. Then there’s the main Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that passes from Baclaran, all the way along through Pasay, across the Pasig River into Chinatown, and up to Monumento, where you’ll find the main bus terminal for traveling north to Subic or Baguio (and just about everywhere else). A third line links the other two passing through Manila City and up through Cubao.
You can buy a ‘stored ticket’ for P100, and this allows you to go in and out of the stations without having to queue up, which can save you a bit of time depending on the time of day. Ladies can choose to ride the coaches set aside for ‘women only,’ and, at the very front of the train, there is a carriage specifically for seniors (60-years old and above), pregnant women, those travelling with children, and people with disabilities (PWD). The trains are air-conditioned, which is always welcome, and run on a regular schedule starting at 5:30am until 11pm on weekdays, or until 10pm on weekends.
This mode of travel is far cheaper than going by taxi, but, more to the point, it’s also far quicker, as going by car normally involves sitting in traffic going nowhere fast while the trains speed along uninterrupted. Many of those who have been taking the overhead train systems for many years will testify that it is a great relief to be able to schedule meetings without having to arrive (often embarrassingly) late having been at the mercy of the roadways. Often, looking out of the window of a train in Manila means seeing the EDSA roadway completely at a standstill as the train thunders on and arrives way ahead of all the road traffic. It might not be akin to riding the rails on some of the more picturesque and famous routes that trains ply worldwide, but it will almost certainly end up saving you both time and money.