Trikes – Getting Around AC
One of the pervasive images associated with daily life here in the Philippines is the ubiquitous “Trike”.
Like most things in life trikes have their good points and bad. Whilst they are a convenient means of transport and faster than the over crowded snails pace jeepneys,
They are not exactly comfortable and the drivers can be either very hospitable or down right hostile.
For us foreigners the trike is a means of transportation but for the driver it is often his sole means of an income. In short it his business and this should always be remembered by the passengers. Many drivers have an attitude towards their passengers ranging from cordial politeness through to blatant hostility. This is not to say all trike drivers are bad but there are certainly a few “bad apples” and these people should be avoided whenever possible. Remember the vast majority of Filipinos view us as walking ATM machines and see it as their right to charge accordingly. By following the simple guidelines which appear later in this article you will most likely avoid the bad drivers and your trike experience will be pleasurable and efficient.
In the provinces or in some of the outer areas of Angeles where the drivers have not had lengthy exposure to foreigners or general commercialization, the fare will nearly always be cheaper. In fact in many areas they have a set fare for each destination and this fare applies to foreigners and Filipinos alike. In downtown Balibago there is no such arrangement but the trike drivers know there are generally accepted fares to each destination.
The following are some handy hints which can help you when utilising the trikes in AC.
1. Before travelling by trike ask around a little bit and get an idea of the normal fare charged. This will vary as different people have differing ideas as to what the fare should be but by asking around you should get an approximate guideline of how much to pay.
2. Before getting in the trike ask the driver how much to a designated destination. Some will tell you an amount straight out and it is then up to you to either accept the stated price or negotiate what you feel is a more realistic price. If the driver is not willing to negotiate just say ok no problem give him a friendly smile, then walk a little distance and try the same procedure with the next trike driver. Most trike drivers will realise the inflated price approach has not worked and will then tell you a more realistic price in order to get your business.
When asked the price to a certain destination many drivers will reply “up to you”. This is where you must have a set price in your head which can only be gotten by experience or by asking around first. If he says up to you tell him your price and make sure he accepts it before you get inside the trike.
3. Always have the exact money or at least as close as you can to the exact amount. Many times the trike drivers will tell you they have no change which can be bothersome as you run around trying to find change. As a rule of thumb I normally try to travel with 200 peso in 20 peso notes.
4. Try to avoid the young testosterone laden drivers and the rickety old trikes that can take an inordinate amount of time to reach their destination. The young guys are often keen to chat with your honey-ko so put her in the trike with you and keep your arm around her. Simple body language such as this will normally discourage the amorous advances of a Filipino trike driver.
Look for a trike that has a high roof and a bit of leg room and a bike that is in reasonable condition. This will make your travelling more comfortable.
To be honest a number of trikes are small with a lack of leg room a low roof and hard seats which dig into your back as you negotiate the AC pot holes and bumps.
Here is some other advice which I think you will find helpful:
1. If you are with a Filipina who you know well, let her help with the negotiations. If she is someone whom you have just met let her stay in the background and you do the negotiating yourself. Often the girls can negotiate a better price than us foreigners.
2. Do not have the, I live here, I am not a tourist attitude. Even though you may live here the trike drivers regard you the same as any other foreigner fare and will charge accordingly.
3. Always remember the later it is, the higher the price. For example a journey that would normally cost you 70 peso in the daytime will cost you 100 at 3AM in the morning.
4. Wherever possible try to get a single trike driver rather than one from a group of drivers. In my experience I have found the single trike driver happy for the fare and friendly whereas the trike drivers who are stationed in the so called tourist spots tend to charge expensive prices and often have an attitude.
5. After the ride and you are paying the driver if you have a problem just pay him what you think is the correct amount and walk away. Do not try to argue with a trike driver because you can never win simply because they have strength of numbers on their side and the few peso you are arguing about means a lot more to them than it does to you.
Here are the average trike fares which I pay travelling to and from certain destinations. This does not make them the right fare but they can be certainly be used as a guideline and you can see the map by clicking HERE or click the map below to get a bigger map to see where the areas are located:
– From Fields avenue starting at Kokomos to Stampede Bar, which is about 620 meters, you should not pay any more than 50 peso.
– Moving up Fields Avenue, which turns into Don Juico Avenue or Perimeter area such as stopping in to have a drink at Illusions, Garfields Bar or Fire N Ice or 1,500 to 1,680 meters from Kokomos, the trike drivers will ask you for 70 to 80 peso, but they will normally accept 60 peso without any problems.
– Again, from Kokomos to the Clarkfield area (the VFW, Josephaville 1 area), which is 2,300 meters, the trike drivers will ask you for anywhere from seventy to one hundred peso. I normally pay 70 peso the Filipinos will pay 40 peso some Filipinas tell me.
– If you are staying at or visiting the Clarkton Hotel or Vila Sol subdivision area, which is 2,700 meters from Kokomos, I have heard some trike drivers have charged an outrageous 250 peso, but you should not pay any more than 100 peso, but I normally give them 80 to 90 peso.
– From Kokomos to Friendship road or gate it is an estimated 3,710 meters and the trike drivers will normally ask you for 100 to 120 I pay them a flat 100 peso as this is quite a distance.
– If you are feeling adventurous or have friends in the Timog Park subdivision, which is more than 5,500 meters, expect to pay the trike drivers 150 peso or 120 depending if you are lucky or not. Further than this further up the Fil Am Friendship Highway is definitely 150 peso or more.
– Getting back to closer to Kokomos and Fields Avenue is the Diamond Subdivision or Swagman Hotel area which is across from Saver’s Mall off Mac Arthur Highway or 820 to 1,350 meters, the trike drivers will ask you for 70 peso, but I pay them 50. This is only a relatively short journey, but it can take a while because of the traffic congestion on McArthur highway.
– From Fields Avenue to the Mountain View area, where a lot of the stay inns are located and it is only 500 to 700 meters from Kokomos, I pay 40 peso. This is only a short distance although it can become time consuming due to the narrow streets and congestion on McArthur Highway too.
You may notice that in each case I recommend paying approximately 10 peso less than what the trike drivers will ask. For a tourist on holiday over here you probably think why quibble about 10 peso and it is not worth the trouble. From a tourists perspective you would be exactly right but please remember most locals here are on a budget and if you are catching trikes every day the extra 10 peso can add up. Besides the trike drivers seem to come to some unwritten agreement approximately once a year that the fare should go up and they do this without any notification to the passengers. The same distance covered in the province would be half the price.
One way to avoid the constant negotiating with trike drivers is to hire a trike on a daily basis. The Filipinos refer to this as a trike service. To arrange a trike service you need to negotiate with a driver whom you feel you can trust and make sure you make the terms of the verbal contract very clear. For example what hours are involved is it just for a few hours or for a more extended period of time, is the weather a factor in determining the price, do you expect him to wait outside each establishment as you visit it or does he simply pick you up at a certain place and time, is the driver free to look for other fares or have you purchased his services exclusively for yourself.
Just to give you an idea I negotiated the following with a local driver. Normally they will ask 100 peso from Vila Sol to Fields Avenue so assuming this was his basic asking price I negotiated the following. 5 trips a week Wednesday through to Sunday at 8PM. The trip would be the same one ie; from home to Neros and he eventually came down to 400 peso for the five trips which makes it 80 peso a trip. I then negotiated a monthly price for the same service and he came down to 1500 peso to be paid in installments of 375 peso on a weekly basis. This makes it 75 peso per trip.
In the negotiating process I explained to him that this was a regular fare and it was always the same distance at the same time. I then asked him would you rather have your trike sit empty and he replied “no problem for me, the price is the price”. As a result I just walked away. What annoyed me about this whole process was not just his self defeating attitude towards the negotiation but also the fact that I am sure a Filipino passenger given the same negotiation would have gotten a considerably cheaper price.
Anyway, if you can negotiate a decent price in my humble opinion a regular trike service is the best way to go and beneficial for you and the driver.
If you should ever run into trouble with one of the trike drivers the rule of thumb is be assertive not aggressive. As I stated earlier there are a few bad apples and if you get one of these do not confront him just walk away. It is never just a solitary driver. Nearly all drivers are part of a group and will rely on the group as their backup. If you have a dispute about your fare just pay the guy what you think is correct then walk away.
Of course you will hear horror stories regarding trike rides however the vast majority of times the trike is an efficient and reliable way to get around and travelling via trike is an integral part of the Philippine experience.
Have fun and hope this article will save you some money and give you more confidence in getting around AC using the trike system.