Whenever I read about the state of the traffic in the metro and commuter woes these days, I can’t help but feel thankful that I drive a motorcycle.
I used to be reliant on public transportation (MRT/LRT) when I worked full-time in Taft Avenue then Makati. I drove a car when I had to work in Ortigas. But about a year ago, we sold our car and now rely solely on motorcycles for getting around.
The points below are all common sense to those who ride motorcycles but just in case you aren’t convinced, I’m listing down all the pros. Here are 10 reasons why I ride a motorcycle in Manila.
1. Traffic in Metro Manila is the worst
Based on the 2015 Global Satisfaction conducted by Waze, Metro Manila is known to have the “worst traffic on Earth.” Metro Manila was listed as having the highest population density in the world by the 2015 Census of population by the Philippine Statistic Authority. In 2015, the total motor vehicles registered in Metro Manila already peaked at 2.5 million.
Because they’re smaller, motorcycles cause less commuter congestion within cities and have less environmental impact than cars. When driving a motorcycle, I can get to my destination faster even when traffic is heavy. Actually, bicycles are the most environmentally-friendly option but sadly, roads in Manila (and fellow motorists) are still not very friendly towards bikers.
2. Riding the MRT is a nightmare
As much as Pinoys may hate to admit it, it’s common knowledge that public transportation in Manila sucks. International Vlogger Drew Binksy pointed out just how inefficient our transport system is compared to other countries in his latest YouTube video.
Some 500,000 people rely on the MRT-3 (the line that runs along EDSA) daily. It’s the busiest among Metro Manila’s rapid transit lines, with total ridership significantly exceeding its built maximum capacity of passengers a day. It may be the fastest way to traverse EDSA, but just getting in to buy a ticket to ride is a pain.
The line of passengers for the MRT regularly snakes out on the street during rush hour. Every week, you hear incidents of the trains just conking out in the middle of the journey or carts derailing and people having to walk on the tracks to get to the next station. Most of the time elevators and escalators at stations going up don’t even work.
Between getting squeezed like sardines riding the MRT or driving through traffic on a motorcycle, I would pick riding a motorcycle any day.
3. No need to make multiple transfers
Getting to any point around the metropolis purely through public transportation involves multiple transfers, which can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the routes. For instance, getting to my place in Quezon City to attend events in Makati or BGC involves at least a tricycle ride, transferring to a bus or jeep to get to EDSA, lining up and riding the MRT, riding another bus, then walking a lot. Repeat that process in reverse to get home.
Even if a destination is just a few kilometers away on the map, you have to allot at least a couple of hours to get anywhere because of the waiting time and heavy traffic. Riding a motorcycle eliminates the need to catch multiple rides and I can just go straight to my destination. I usually leave an hour before a scheduled event and end up being one of the earliest to arrive.
4. No waiting times
One of the most helpless and soul-crushing feelings in the world is waiting in line. Waiting to get your bag poked by a security guard with a pointed stick at the MRT station. Waiting in line to buy a single-journey ticket to ride the train. Waiting for a bus with seats available to arrive. Waiting for a van to fill up with other passengers before leaving.
On a motorcycle, you’re not bound by public transportation schedules. There’s no idle waiting time just standing around for the next available bus or train, only to be uncomfortable the whole ride because it’s “standing room only.” You are in control of getting to your destination and not dependent on other drivers or Waze’s sometimes strange decisions of what route you should take.
5. Taxi drivers overcharge
We’ve all been there. Taxi drivers brazenly ask for additional ₱50 or ₱100 just to even accept you as a passenger. On a recent very short trip from the bus terminal along EDSA to Quezon City, a cab driver charged me ₱200 flat rate without bothering to turn on their meter. Most of the time you just give in because you want to get home. You just don’t have the energy to argue with taxi drivers anymore.
Trying to get a cab from the airport is even worse. It’s a decision between getting robbed by regular taxis you had to fight other passengers for at the arrival gate or the expensive airport-sanctioned metered taxis.
6. Uber and Grab surcharge prices
I love using ridesharing apps like Uber and Grab that offer secure transport that you can book anywhere. You get to avoid the stress of driving, you know how much you’re going to pay beforehand, and drivers are generally very polite. Uber is very useful for trips to and from the airport when you are carrying heavy bags.
But lately because of the high demand from riders, surcharge prices are just off the charts. Fares that should just normally cost ₱200 plus double to almost ₱500 or more during peak hours. It has also gotten more difficult to book rides using the app. I’ve waited an hour for an Uber at the airport only for the driver to cancel on me once he looked like he was getting near. I don’t know if it’s just me, but for some reason, Uber seems to be connecting me with drivers coming from far locations or are still in the process of completing trips, making waiting times much longer than usual.
7. Gas is cheaper compared to cars
Motorcycles are overwhelmingly utilitarian due to their lower prices and greater fuel economy. A full tank of gas on a scooter costs a little over ₱100. This can last me a week of just short rides going around the metro. When we had a car, I spent roughly ₱500-₱1000 a week on gas.
8. Finding parking is cheaper and easier
Good luck trying to find parking in malls during weekends. Aside from it being easier to find parking spaces for motorcycles, parking fees are also much cheaper. The parking fee usually just costs ₱20-30 for motorcycles in most establishments and ₱50 flat rate for BGC versus ₱50 for first 3 hours plus ₱50 per succeeding hour for cars. In other places, if you’re staying for only a short while, you can usually park motorcycles for free somewhere along the street.
9. Increased savings
I think I’ve been able to save a lot on public transportation, taxis and Uber because of having a motorcycle. Let’s not get even started on the costs of maintenance of motorcycles versus cars. General check-ups, oil change and vehicle registration are generally cheaper in the long run.
For condos in Manila, renting a parking space for a car can cost anywhere from ₱3,000 a month and up. Because motorcycles don’t take up too much space and can be parked in odd unused spaces, parking is usually free.
10. Freedom to explore
Beyond the necessity of city driving, riding a motorcycle has given me the freedom to explore beyond Manila especially during weekends. I’ve had the chance to go to various destinations near Manila on day trips and weekend rides that would be hard to get to without your own form of transport. Riding a motorcycle is fast, convenient and gives you ultimate freedom.
Sure there are cons too, including dealing with safety issues, heat, traffic and rain. But I’d still rather be moving and doing something to beat the traffic instead of being stuck for hours in a car or standing in a bus or MRT all throughout the ride.
Read about the author’s motorcycle travel and adventures on her blog, Travel Up.