Getting around in the city

Public utility jeepneys ply the routes from the central business district to the suburbs passing along the major thoroughfares. After the war, surplus army jeeps were converted into the famous "jeepneys" seating about 12 to 15 passengers on longitudinal benches behind the driver’s partition. They are privately owned and ply along fixed routes painted on the side of the vehicles. Fares are modest, and they stop anywhere on request.

Why Jeepneys Rule

Jeeps don't just look good. The jeepney system is the world's best and most convenient public transportation system. In no other country do you have competition - intense competition - between buses plying the same route. In all other countries, any particular route is operated by just one Bus Company. In the Philippines, each individual bus is owned by a different owner, and as a result you have buses competing with each other for customers. (Some operators own as many as a dozen jeeps, but these still amount to only a small fraction of the total number of jeeps plying that route.)

The bus companies in Europe, American, and Japan are monopolies for the routes that they operate. The bus company alone decides how frequently a bus is sent along a route to pick up passengers. While a city may have several bus companies, all ply different routes, and in effect amount to monopolies for the routes that they operate.

Like all monopolies, the bus companies of the developed world provide only the bare minimum of resources, and service is only as good as it has to be. As a result, buses are infrequent, and passengers have to scurry to the bus station to catch a bus. So used to being controlled by monopolies are the consumers of the industrialized world that they think nothing of carrying around bus schedules and fretting about missing their only hope of transportation. Moreover, drivers and conductors (if available) will often be downright rude to their customers.

In the Philippines, jeeps compete with each along the same route. Competition for customers is intense, and thousands of jeeps eke out a living gathering as many customers as possible by running as often as possible. The result? The customer benefits and passengers are bombarded with offers to ride along. Neither do Filipino passengers have to trek to a bus station - so eager are jeeps to gain your patronage, that they will stop anywhere for you as long as you are within sight. This is to the detriment of people in private cars, but to the benefit of the jeepney-riding public.