Jeepney Riding 101

I’ve ridden in dozens of different types of vehicles over the past year.  Each country has its own system of transportation, but they all have a cheap method of getting from one place to the next.  In the Philippines, it’s the jeepney, but remember, you get what you pay for.  Here’s how I get back to Nature’s Healing Home after being in town.

  • Sit and wait in the sweltering heat until the driver thinks the jeepney is full enough to depart. It will be about 20 people after you’re certain that not another person could possibly fit.  It is not uncommon to wait 30-60 minutes or more.
  • If you didn’t think to take your phone out of your pocket before boarding, then you will just have to sit and stare into space.  It is impossible to remove anything from your pockets without deeply offending the people next to you.
Plenty of room for more
The back and the roof are also available for daring passengers
  • The driver will open the hood, start the engine, and possibly leave a few minutes later.  Enjoy the breeze when you finally start to move. 
  • Be patient when the driver stops for gas or to make a delivery.
  • Don’t talk unless necessary. You will soon join the other passengers and enter a trance-like state in order to endure the ride. Note:  My most entertaining ride came when McTery was sleeping and fell into the lap of a man across the aisle as we went around the curve.  Everyone laughed for about ten minutes, except McTery.
  • You can hold the handrail on the ceiling, but it might not be necessary.  Sometimes you’re so tightly squeezed in that you won’t even budge going up the mountain switchbacks.
  • Expect to encounter many construction sites that will feel like a roller coaster and send waves of dust into the vehicle.
  • If someone hands you money, it is not a gift.  You are meant to pass it along the row until it finally reaches the driver.  If your money is not already in your hands, you can pay when you get off.
Today’s mission included finding black shoes for McTery’s graduation from elementary school, along with every other sixth grader in the region.
Finding the right size involved going to several stores.
  • Wiggle your toes as much as possible to keep your feet awake.  If you’re lucky, only one foot will be asleep when you arrive at your stop.
  • Say “para” or tap coins on the handrail or bang on the roof when you want to exit.  There is no graceful way to exit a jeepney.  Just crawl over the aisle of packages and legs while trying not to hit your head on the low ceiling or fall into someone’s lap.  If you have a package, the person near the exit will hold it for you while you stumble out onto the road.
Found some that fit
  • Hobble up to the driver while avoiding traffic and pay your 15 pesos (30 cents in the US).  
McTery and his Aunt Theresa


I’ve been privileged to not have to rely on jeepneys for daily use. Many Filipinos ride them every day to and from work and school and I often see long lines of people waiting for their ride during rush hour.  The people here are very patient, friendly and helpful even when having to face such challenging conditions.  I’ve learned a lot about patience and kindness by riding jeepneys with Filipinos.

Comments (14):

  1. Vicky Ann Deledda

    April 4, 2017 at 08:44

    Whoa, Flanagan, not sure if I would have endured the jeepneys- especially the way that you detailed the spaces and climbing over everyone.
    All for new shoes, I’m sure McTery will never forget this trip, especially falling asleep!
    Cambodia?

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 05:59

      You can handle anything, even a jeepney ride. You and McTery would be the talk of the ride.

      Reply
  2. Paula Agins

    April 4, 2017 at 08:44

    to think I just drive to TJ MAXX for my shoes!!!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 05:59

      So boring!

      Reply
  3. Don Dillon

    April 4, 2017 at 10:26

    Wow, what an adventure! My daughter rode a similar bus in Costa Rica. Called them “Chicken Buses” for obvious reasons.

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 06:00

      Yes, I rode a chicken bus last summer, but I think jeepneys kick it up quite a few notches!

      Reply
  4. Lori

    April 4, 2017 at 11:49

    Oh this post made me laugh out loud! What an adventure, Tim!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 06:01

      Every jeepney is a new adventure here.

      Reply
  5. Rosie

    April 4, 2017 at 17:41

    This post just proves life is different where ever you are. Everyday life for some and for others we see challenges. Smiles are just smiles!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 06:01

      So true!

      Reply
  6. Linda A Wight

    April 4, 2017 at 19:07

    Congratulations to McTery on the shoes and graduation! Linda

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 06:02

      🙂

      Reply
  7. Betsy Zarella Flanagan

    April 14, 2017 at 07:05

    So much for personal space! Thanks for the vivid description

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      April 15, 2017 at 07:02

      Maybe I’ll get a jeepney and just drive around Westerly when I get home.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *