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Work Productivity and Hacks

How to manhandle Manila traffic and get to work on time

By Kalibrr Content Hub on May 5, 2015

Metro Manila has one of the worst traffic jams in the world. If you're one of the hundreds of commuters every morning, you'll know that this is not an opinion. It's a fact.

The unfortunate truth is, many people have poured their sweat, tears, and time in the commuting game making for wasted energy and work hours. The good news is, if you're resourceful, there are many ways you can beat the beast.

Here are some useful tips on how get to work on time, while keeping your sanity in this Manila traffic.

Take your chance on the train

Riding the MRT is a double-edged sword. You get to watch stalled cars in EDSA as you glide from station to station, but at what cost? Despite the increase in fare, there are still glitches here and there. Not to mention the packed cars means it's next to impossible to arrive at your destination fresh. For sure, riding the train is not for the faint hearted.

For commuters coming from Taft station, it's wise to always make your way to the last carriage, because almost everyone goes to the first open carriage they see - the middle carriages. The last car will always have room, even during rush hours. You just have to be fast enough.

For commuters coming from the north, unless the MRT gets a makeover, what you see is what you get. You have other options though, says the office of the President.

Create good habits. Don’t stand in the doorway. If it isn't already clogged, it will be with people flocking to get near to the exits before their station comes up. While you're a few stations behind, be considerate and head to the middle of the car to make room for other people.

Be assertive, especially for the women. Learn how to hustle, because no one else will make way for you. The carriage exclusive for women is just a notch better but if you can, make your way for it. Just expect that yes, no one will grope you, but everyone is just as aggressive and catty.

Not seen: long lines of sweaty people
Not seen: long lines of sweaty people


Technology is your friend, friend

There are days when you don’t feel like fighting in the pits and you just want to get to work. You just got your mid-month paycheck and maybe you want to splurge on taking a cab. Good thing cabs are everywhere — except of course when you need them. Or even worse, you may get one of those few drivers who would rather be choosy with their passengers than let you in their car. Perfect.

Thanks to apps like GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi, cabs don't have to be another source of transportation frustration. You can book a cab and have them wait for you at your doorstep. Other app-based transport like Uber and GrabCar, which has recently been legalized in the country, have cab-like services but with private cars instead.

Feel like a million bucks when you get off at your office’s lobby, but prepare to pay the premium. These cab hailing apps usually have expensive flag-down fees, unless you’re privy to the promo codes that forego said fees. Ask your tech savvy friends for these promo codes - there's no shame in them and that extra 100 pesos can go a long way.

Use other apps like the MMDA traffic app and Waze lets you see areas with heavy traffic, so you can set your game plan accordingly.

Uber drivers are usually more courteous. Sometimes,  they even have bottled waters and candies.
Uber drivers are usually much more courteous. Sometimes, they even have bottled water and candies. You're going to be on the road for a while, you might as well enjoy it.


Aircon buses are underrated

If you get a seat, you are almost always comfortable for the rest of your ride. But manage your expectations. You can’t be in a hurry if you want to take the bus. Aside from the traffic, you have to deal with bus drivers stopping for every single person they see.

So leave your house hours before you have to come into work. You can squeeze in the book you’ve been wanting to finish, or listen to some music while staring at other people stuck in traffic. If you’re the type of person to strike a conversation with strangers, go ahead. But don’t be surprised if for an hour and a half, you’re still on the road and you’re only halfway to your office.

We just wish buses look this good
We just wish buses look this good


The reality is, it's a very lucky day when you can say that your commute to and from the office was easy. Manila redefines traffic everyday. While we wait for infrastructure to get better we can do two things: be resourceful, and rant about our horror stories. Share your own commuting stories and commuting tips with Kalibrr in the comments below.

We're all in this traffic together. Literally.