The curious case of the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange
“Masyado iyang malayo!” [It’s just too far away]
“Pahirap lang iyan sa aming mga commuter” [This only made things harder for us commuters]
“Mas magaling pa rin yung mga terminal na nasa EDSA” [The terminals along EDSA are still the better choice]
These are but the few harsh words several commuters had to say when they first got to the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) several months ago. Intended to be a more convenient way of getting to and from the metro and nearby provinces (i.e. Cavite, Batangas, etc.), it was instead viewed as something of an inconvenience.
At first, the public complained on and on how it's too far away from the main roads. Then there was a certain lack of buses and other forms of transportation in the few weeks that it opened. There was also the matter of where is it located exactly as some did not know where it is.
Now, 10 months after it was opened to the public, and it appears that more and more commuters have taken to use the country's first-ever land port. There are still those that say that it's not near enough to be convenient. But maybe some of them are looking at PITX the wrong way.
Recently, we were able to check out what goes on at PITX and how it actually helps commuters in their journeys. Despite its initial backlash, we quickly noticed that it is way better equipped than your usual bus terminal and has more amenities too.
But what are exactly some of the benefits when it comes to serving commuters?
Location, Location, Location
You're probably wondering why PITX is located as far away as possible from Metro Manila's bustling roads. Well for the most obvious reason, it's a huge complex that has to cater to plenty of vehicles and passengers. Placing PITX in an already crowded (or congested) part of the Metro will only lead to more problems.
The PITX's far-flung location means it will not cause any buildup of traffic in Metro Manila. Plus, since it's already bordering south of the metro, traveling between the southern provinces will be easier and less hassle as it is already near CAVITEX, as well as SLEX. Did we mention it has a car park where you can leave your vehicle and come back to it when you're done your trip?
Trips to Baguio are now also available in PITX (limited availability for now). This means that those living in the south will not have to travel all the way to North EDSA or Cubao just so they can catch a bus heading northbound.
From the perspective of freeing up traffic, it seems that the idea behind PITX is a sound one.
Computerized ticketing/booking system
You can reserve and book a bus ride just like you would at an airport. The facility houses dozens of ticket booths which can show the scheduled departure and arrival of several buses, as well as gate they are located. One can even select their own preferred seating, provided the bus company has it available on their system.
Once you have been issued a ticket, it comes with the scheduled departure, gate number, as well as other key details. Plus, it has a unique QR code which you'll need to open the barrier at the gates. Simply show the ticket to the scanner, and it will let you pass.
Imagine having to rush all the way to a bus terminal you frequently go to, only to find out that you missed the last bus or that they have temporarily stopped operations due to technical difficulties. You would not have to deal with that kind of problem when you're in PITX as it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Not only that, PITX always makes sure there are trips almost every hour. So in the unlikeliest of days that you miss the first trip, don't worry. Another bus will be leaving again in one hour. And with plenty of bus companies operating in PITX, you can also choose from different bus companies besides your regular go-to brand.
Comfort & Convenience under one roof
Don't think that the PITX is merely a boring terminal without so much amenities. As the name implies, this 'land port' is the equivalent of an airport. That means it has shops, restaurants, benches, as well as lounge areas for rest & relaxation.
It also has fast Wi-Fi access, charging outlets that can let you power-up your devices, and massage chairs to ease the stress of commuting.
And should you want to freshen up before the long haul, PITX also has shower rooms that you can use. Just make sure you bring your own toiletries and towels.
Not just for buses
While this land port mostly caters to provincial and city buses, PITX also serves as a hub for a wide array of public transport. You can hail a taxi, ride a PUV or jeepney to your next destination, or even take a UV Express van.
Unlike traditional terminals along EDSA where you have to switch from one form of transportation to another, PITX allows commuters to seamlessly switch while inside PITX. No longer do you have to endure the heat and pollution outside just so you can catch a ride towards your next destination.
Feeling lucky? They even offer shuttle buses for Okada, City of Dreams, as well as Solaire.
So the PITX has the amenities of an airport and has plenty of buses/routes to choose from. But why aren't commuters or bus companies making full use of the PITX? Again, we have to go back to the first problem many have complained; location.
Commuters have gotten used being dropped off along bus terminals along EDSA that they see PITX as a step backward. But what some fail to realize is that PITX is aimed to decongest the many bus terminals that crowd EDSA. Should more companies and commuters use PITX, there will be less traffic buildup that can clog up EDSA.
With traffic in Metro Manila becoming worse as the years go by, perhaps PITX can alleviate the heavy traffic volume that hounds EDSA and Metro Manila. But with some commuters, as well as several bus companies uncooperatively refusing to set foot at the country's first land port, it may take some years before we get to reap the full potential of what PITX has to offer.
With a maximum daily capacity of 100,000 passengers (expandable to 200,000), the PITX can easily accommodate thousands of commuters, while also decongesting bus terminals in Metro Manila.