Finer Points: Riding the Jeepney

Monday, August 03, 2009

The jeepney is a mode of transportation unique to the Philippines, and is the prefect combination of economy, efficiency, and the good old Filipino spirit of "bahala na si batman". The experience of riding a jeep is half transportation and half extreme sport, specially when the driver is a spunky 19yo who likes to listen to "Banananana" in full volume while treating the gas pedal with the delicacy of prison rape.

That said, here are a few things you may want to know in order to properly make use of jeepney rides:

1. Knowing which Jeep passes where

About 70 years ago, just as our grandparents were deciding how to rebuild our country from the ashes of war, a couple of engineers went on to redraw the map of manila from scratch, overcoming the challenges of not knowing how to draw straight lines or how to count. Because of this, we ended up with a city plan more convoluted than the varicose veins of a school librarian, named with only the most random names possible (it's not impossible to find a 34th street beside Balete st. and McArthur avenue)

The jeepney drivers, being obviously pissed at the city map, made their routes just as confusing sometimes moving around in a concentric pattern before zigzagging its way out of a district like some sort of organized city tour. This is so as to pass on the frustration to the unwitting commuters who still wonder why the fuck Zapote, Makati is 40km away from Zapote Kabila, Las Pinas. I dont know how to break it to you, but there is absolutely no fucking way for you to know where a jeep will pass even if they post at least 100 signboards written in cryptic ancient aramaic (e.g. ZAPOTE KABILA dadaan ibabaw crossing bubukas ang bulaklak...) Also, you will have to read without the aid of any lighting device while the jeep is going at twice the speed of sound. To your benefit however, these routes are also written at the side of the jeepney, so you know that the jeep is going where you need to go, the very moment it passes you.

2. Jeepney Fares

First thing you should learn about fares, in case you have never EVER used a jeep before, is that the minimum fare is 7.50 pesos. When you know that, you know about as much as the expert commuters, because in truth, there is no standard fare and we're all just guessing how the fare system works. Sure, you'll see laminated paper matrices that look more dilapidated than a 10,000yo papyrus stuck on the passenger part of the jeepney sometimes, but if you pay attention to the really small letters, they're either from the Marcos administration, or they do not make sense AT ALL.

Baclaran - Edsa ---- 7.50
Baclaran - Pedro Gil ----- 9.00
San Miguel - Preferred Shares ---- 1023.34
Bose-Einstein Coefficient ----- 432.876335
Pacquiao - Cotto ---- 1:15

Best thing you can do if you don't know how much to pay for your destination is to just give a whole bill, to which the driver will politely identify your fare cost and reply in a well-meaning way "Syet naman, wala bang barya?" ("doth thou hast coinage" in driver speak) The driver may look alarmed, but dont fret, he will give you your change as soon as possible, which is on the average, about 1-1.5km after you've passed where you're supposed to hop off.

3. Flagging jeeps down

You don't have to. Jeepney drivers are descentants of ancient Altantis dwellers and are capable of reading your mind. If you don't believe me, just stand on the side of the road and think of a jeep that you want to ride. After five minutes, expect a jeep to pull beside you and tell you where you want to go and your lucky numbers for the day. Did I say jeep? I meant caravan.

Being run privately and not as part of a government scheme to milk money, this means every jeepney is a competitor of every other jeepney on the road. Any attempts to flag one jeep down will attract every possible jeep down from a 2km radius, with a magnetic force stronger than Magneto during orgasm.

4. Getting off (the jeep, and not what you're thinking with your filthy filthy mind)

At some point in your journey, unless you have fallen asleep, or passed out from the massive G-forces excerted on your frontal lobe, you will have to get down from the jeep. While at first it seems to be easy, when you realize that you have to notify a driver sitting 20 meters away from you while loud remixed music is playing on the sixteen speakers strategically placed under the seats, just telling the driver you WANT to stop is already an act worthy of a Nobel prize. Screaming and banging anything that might attract attention is acceptable, unless it's somebody's hot wife we're talking about.

Because jeeps give you the freedom to get off anywhere, timing is also everything. Jince jeeps aren't exactly the most accurate stoppers in the world. The time delay you need to consider before notifying the driver can be expressed using the following factors:

Td = target time delay
Vj = Velocity of the Jeep
NAj = negative accelaration of the jeep when stopping
Gr = Grip constant of the road ahead
Rt = overall responsiveness of the driver, who might have a hearing defficiency

Which has the relationship Td = Vj/Naj(Gr/2.3445959 + (square root of Rt))

Given this formula, you can easily compute the time delay needed in a matter of hours and never have to miss your stop ever again.

4. Sitting Arrangements

Every jeep has been carefully engineered to be able to sit the maximum number of people comfortably, but jeep marketing people always manage to do their jobs of what I presume is making commuters miserable by marketing those same jeeps with the capacity of maximum + 1. That means on either row of the jeep, there's always one person who gets to spend his entire trip relying on the power and flexibility of one buttcheek.

Whereas the common idea of sitting in public people is that people who get in first go to the back end to faciliate the ease of sitting of the people who come in next, jeeps work the other way around by promoting people sitting as close to the exit as possible for some reason, which I assume is that the closer you are to the exit, the safer you are from becoming sterile from the loud loud music coming from the belly of the beast.

Sitting for men is limited to the one-nut position, which is roughly translatable to the minimum angle of spread of your legs that you can make without crushing both your nuts.

5. Religious figures

Jeepneys always have religious icons somewhere in the jeep so passengers can pray more effectively when the jeep is courting death and hell by moving around like a deranged car chase from "World's scariest police chases".


Ako Si Gundam said...

Ahh yes, the legendary "God knows Hudas not pay." Works like a charm, Red.

Denistar said...

Regarding point number 1.

That's why I like it here in Cebu City. Our jeepneys have "codes" for their routes. So it's pretty easy to know what jeepney to ride when going to a certain place.


Cebu today is Manila 30 years ago (in terms of urban blight). Give it a few more decades and you'd be just as confused as we are haha.

Denistar said...

There isn't much of Cebu to be confused about. Unless they build new roads. But really, Cebu's too narrow of an island. What they should do is make a monorail that goes from North to South of the province. Now that would be cool! =p

Lagpas na me. Hehehe.


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