Gray Matter


Jeepneys and Tricycles and the COVID-19 Countermeasures

RT Cunningham | August 3, 2020 (UTC) | Culture, Travel

jeepneys and tricyclesBy far, the most popular vehicles for transportation within cities and other urban centers of the Philippines are the jeepneys and motorized tricycles. Sure, there are buses and trains, and they’re good for getting across long distances, but it’s the jeepneys and tricycles that get people across shorter distances faster.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the drivers of these vehicles to put countermeasures in place that inhibits their abilities to make enough money to survive.

The Jeepneys

COVID jeepneyThe first jeepneys were created from American jeeps left over from World War II. The most modern jeepneys look nothing like them. They’re more akin to mini-buses than anything else. I avoid riding in the older jeepneys because of how long I have to hunch over to keep from hitting my head on the inner roof.

A friend of mine from Belgium sent me a couple of pictures from the inside of a Jeepney yesterday. His wife had sent them to him from the Philippines. He, in turn, forwarded them to me. I’m showing you the one that best displays one of the countermeasures in place. Notice the plastic being used to split the bench seating.

Jeepney drivers are famous for squeezing in more people than their jeepneys are supposed to hold. This countermeasure prevents them from even reaching full capacity.

The Tricycles

tricycleMost of the tricycles are motorcycles with covered sidecars. You can see pedal-driven tricycles in rural provincial areas, but rarely in any city. They’re just too slow to compete with traffic. I avoid riding in most tricycles because they’re not comfortable. I wasn’t comfortable when I rode in them back in the eighties, when I was much thinner than I am today.

The most restrictions are policies put in place by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). One of them is that a private tricycle isn’t allowed to carry a passenger other than a spouse (or possibly their children). All I know is that one of my brothers-in-law had to let one of my sisters-in-law out or an LTO employee was going to impound his vehicle.

Our Delayed Return to the Philippines

My wife, Josie, and I intended to return to Olongapo in October 2020. She wanted to be in the Philippines before the birthday of one of her aunts, the one she lived with while she was in high school. The Clark airport is less than an hour away from Olongapo, but the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions would require us to fly into Manila.

We would have to stay in a Department of Health approved hotel for an undetermined amount of time. Supposedly, it wouldn’t be more than two days if we both tested negative for COVID-19. If we tested positive, we would have to stay for two weeks. When we finally arrived at our home, we would be the only ones allowed to travel together in our car - no other relatives at all. This is yet another LTO restriction.

No, thank you. We’ll return to our house in the Philippines when all of this blows over, no matter how long it takes. Our children and their families are happy to have us around.

Jeepney Photo Attribution: gloverbh222 from Pixabay
Tricycle Photo Attribution: Judgefloro / Public domain

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