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Friday, December 14, 2007

The LAW of TONNAGE

Driving here in the Philippines is an experience that can only be closely compared to New York and their taxi drivers.

First of all, in the Philippines, the only public buses are for long distance travel. In the city and I guess most of the county there are taxis and also some cheaper transportation:

Jeepneys – these look like elongated jeeps, since the original were from army surplus Jeeps left over from WWII. They have different routes which are noted on the side. You climb in from the back and they have bench seats along each side. A jeepney can hold about 12-14 passengers.



MultiCabs – This are made from smaller delivery trucks. These are like a jeepney with an opening in the rear and bench seats but hold fewer passengers.



Motor Tricycles. These are small motorcycles with either a minibus size shell over it and connected to the motorcycle. These can seat about 10-12 riders.


There are also motorcycles with an open sidecar that can seat 2-3 and pedicabs that are similar but powered by a by a bicycle.


Now about how they drive:

Most main streets are 2 lanes, sometimes 3 and are usually packed with traffic. The jeepneys, multicabs and Motor tricycles are constantly weaving from left lane to right and stopping to pickup and discharge passengers. So as you can guess the right lane has a lot of stop and go traffic. When the traffic stops, everyone tries to get to the left lane to pass. Then as you’re driving, if someone needs to make a left turn, he blocks traffic waiting a clear opening to get across oncoming traffic.

Well not really a clear opening. Drivers will nose in if there is a space and slowly try to stop oncoming traffic to get across. At that point, every vehicle that is waiting to make a left goes.
This is the same at intersections. There is nothing like in the US here where one car goes and then allows one from the other direction. Once there is an opening in an intersection and one car/truck gets through, everyone follows until there is an opening for a car from the other direction can squeeze in and change the traffic.

With all the weaving and such, here is where the law of tonnage comes into effect. The bigger and heavier vehicle usually gets his way. A truck will cause Jeepneys to pause; a Jeepney will stop a car and so on and so one. Also there are few traffic lights.

Later I will tell about my first traffic stop. I fun story.

3 comments:

Lee said...

Bruce,
It was nice to speak to you before you left to go to the Philippines. I am glad to hear that your had a good flight. It is a long journey. I am very happy that you two are finally together. Best wishes and good luck in the Philippines.
Lee Golden
Standard Pacific Homes

Anonymous said...
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Bruce said...

Lee,
Thank you for your good wishes and visiting American in Davao. I hope you will contine to read and to post comments. Send my Best to your mom, Jack and your wife. Also say hi to everyone in Stanpac