30 May, 2008

MRT 101

I always take the MRT when I go to work. It's the most practical thing to do. The fare is only Php14.00 from Quezon Avenue Station to Ayala Station and it's fast. The travel time of an hour to an hour and a half by car or bus is downsized to merely 20 - 30 minutes. The downside? Well, the train gets too cramped for comfort. Prepare yourself to be hustled and bustled, poked, shoved in all directions, pushed and your foot stepped on. In some rare instances, you may even find yourself engaged in a verbal tussle, even a fight (I am witness to a couple already) with a fellow passenger.

My work starts at 08:30 AM and by 06:45 AM, I must be aboard the train least I be stuck in an exodus. By exodus, I mean the time when people flock to the MRT station and when the train passes by, this hoard of people push their way in as if it's the only place in the world that's safe. It's actually quite a sight to behold - this mass of humanity doing their damnedest to get inside the train, some without caring who they shove or push - but only if you are a spectator, not a participant. Okay, a definition of terms here: Spectators are those who are already comfortably seated in the train or are within its confines while participants (in the shoving and pushing) are those outside participating in a brawl just to get in.

And the above brings me to my most important rule when doing the morning commute via the MRT: Never allow yourself to be there at a time later than 07:00 AM because that is when exodus happens. If for some reason luck did not smile on you and you encounter an exodus (these reasons may either be the good ole traffic of Manila or laziness has just seeped into your system like it did on mine when I woke up today), just follow the guidelines below so you will arrive to your destination in one piece, or at least with your cool still intact:
  • When you see that the Quezon Avenue Station is already teeming with people and the escalator is not working because believe me, there was a time a couple of months ago when the escalator there is always broken, opt to take the stairs. It will get you to the guards who check your bags faster.
  • When falling in line to have your bag/s checked, stay away from those who are lugging around a lot of luggage as having their backpacks and paper bags and whatnot checked will take considerable time. Of course when you are behind those people, you get stuck in line until they are allowed entry.
  • Be sure to always have a stored value card as this will save you the hassle of falling in line to buy one-way tickets.
  • Women, the physically challenged and children are given preferential treatment as the first cart is reserved for them. Take advantage of this as it will save you the unnecessary trauma of being in a "coed" cart where some men smell of stale sweat or are perverts who will leer at or in some cases, grope women (thank heavens I was never a victim of the latter or he will have his ass kicked or his face numb from well-deserved slaps).
  • Once inside the platform, go to either of the last 3 designated stops as these usually have the least number of people.Never make the mistake of positioning yourself in the farthest end as when the door opens and people start rushing inside, these people are usually the ones who cannot get in and the ones who get physically harassed the most.
  • Always bring a fan with you as the air conditioning can get very bad and it helps to have a fan so you can have your own source of air. Never mind that the air may be anything but fresh. It's still air, and it will help you survive the train's humid confines.
  • If all seats are taken (and the handrails too), go to the farthest end of the train, not to where the door opens to or closes in as this is the "danger zone." People who are in the danger zone get shoved, pushed and even cursed at by people wanting to get in, especially when the train stops in Cubao and Shaw Stations.

There. I have given you my MRT tips gained from nearly a decade of hustling and bustling (and getting hustled and bustled myself).

As these are for the morning commute, the ride back will be covered in a different blog soon. Believe me, the ride back can get just as bad, maybe even worse. Still it can only get interesting.

For more information about the Metro Star Express or the MRT (schedule of operation, ticket notification, fare matrix, area map etc.), please log on to http://www.dotcmrt3.gov.ph/

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