New premium airport buses seen to decongest Metro Manila roads and airports

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — As the number of passengers transiting through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) continues to rise, the demand for safe, reliable, and budget-friendly transportation can't seem to keep up.

According to figures from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), about 36.7 million passengers transited through NAIA in 2015- a 2 million increase from the previous year's numbers.

Currently, the only public transportation options available to arriving passengers are buses, jeepneys, and taxis. Recently, the MIAA also allowed Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) like UBER and GRAB to operate in NAIA to keep up with the demand.

But there are inherent problems with each:

  • Existing bus routes are limited to other terminals and nearby bus stops.
  • Jeepneys are not directly available at the terminals' drop off and pickup points.
  • The number of Taxis and TNVS is still not enough to keep up with the demand, resulting in long lines.
  • Premium rates usually apply.

Related: Regular taxis now allowed to pick up passengers in NAIA

To fill the gaps in the current transport options, the Department of Transportation in partnership with Air21 launched on Tuesday UBE Express, a Premium Airport Bus Service.

This will serve three routes: Makati, Roxas Boulevard, and Entertainment City - a combination of hotels, malls and bus stops.

They have a fleet of 21 brand new units of Mercedes Benz MCV 120 buses with 21 more to be delivered over the next few months. Each one costs about ₱10 million after taxes.

The Mercedes Benz MCV 120's are sleek and feature state of the art technology- including a Euro 5 and BlueTec Engine designed to lower emissions.

Each bus is equipped with GPS system, radio communications, and CCTV Cameras, speed limiters and sensors which prevent it from accelerating if the doors are open.

Low-entry doors and a ramp make the bus wheelchair accessible.

Twenty-four ergonomically designed seats ensure the comfort of passengers while they surf the net on their gadgets with the free WiFi on board. The cabin layout also provides more opportunities to carry passengers in a standing room capacity.

Online booking on an expanded capacity will soon be available via web and mobile app.

UBE Express currently offers an introductory rate of ₱150, which is 50% off it's regular price of ₱300.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade sees a side benefit to the launch. He said the comfort and security of the UBE Express buses could also be a way to encourage more people to take public transportation and decongest Metro Manila's congested roads.

"Imbes nalang na magdadala ka ng sasakyan, punta ka nalang sa estasyon, sumakay ka at, yun na! Makakarating ka na sa paroroonan mo in comfort and in style."

[Translation: Instead of bringing your own car, you only have to go to the station, get on board and that's it! You will get to your destination in comfort and in style.]

Also read: NAIA Expressway to open this month