99th Baguio Charter Day Anniversary Issue
Mt. Province
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A look into Baguio’s transport system
by Andrew J. Vergara

Baguio City is served by air and land transportation.

The fastest means to reach the mountain city is through air. Philippine Air Lines, which serves all domestic routes, offers 50-minute flights from Manila to Baguio at P75 economy fare or 35 minutes from Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya at P40.

By land, some 300 public buses travel to and from the city. Routes are the Kennon, Naguilian, Halsema-Mountain, and Ambuklao-Nueva Vizcaya national roads. A scenic highway is under construction for a new access to the city through Agoo, La Union and will be named after President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

About 50 per cent of the public buses stationed in Baguio ply the Kennon Road through Central Luzon for as far south as Manila. For a five-hour trip, the fare to Manila should be about P10 at the rate of P0.05 a kilometer, Baguio being 250 kilometers from Manila. The government-subsidized Philippine National Railways has distinct advantage over other bus companies in terms of fare and therefore offers economy fare for Baguio-Manila PNR trips at P8.75.

PNR and Pantrancoschedule “luxury” trips to Manila at P25 a ticket. Express or first class rates are P11.

Baguio is also served by the Amianan Express PNR train. Although this train is mainly for the passengers bound to the Ilocos provinces, it also takes Baguio passengers. In the stopover in Damortis, La Union, Baguio passengers transfer to PNR buses for the pines city via Kennon Road.

The other 50 percent of the units stationed in Baguio serve La Union and travel as far north as Laoag City. Marcitas Liners travel down to San Fernando, La Union, at P2.45 per passenger and to Agoo, La Union, at P3.20. Dangwa Tranco, goes farther northwest to San Gabriel, La Union. The Ilocos line is taken care of by Times Transit, Dacanay Express, and Philippine Rabbit with rates of P11.50 to Laoag.

Dangwa Tranco has monopoly of trips to the interior of the mountain provinces via the Halsema-Mountain and Ambuklao-Nueva Vizcaya national roads. More than 80 units of the firm serve all of Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Pro-vince, and Kalinga-Apayao. The company ventures farther southeast to Quezon, Isabela.

Other bus companies join Dangwa in serving transport needs of Benguet. The lines of these companies formerly were served by Dangwa.

While other national roads are paved, the Halsema-Mountain and Ambuklao roads which are traveled by Dangwa, are not. This is why Dangwa buses break down after one-way trips, a spokesman of the company related.

Added to the public utilities are hotel buses, garage cars, and other vehicles available to tourists. In Baguio, Resort Hotel Corporation (Pines) and Diplomat Tours provide luxury coaches for tourists. Baguio City Tours, Avis Rent-A-Car, Sarkies Tours, Alcar Service, Dangwa Tranco, and a few smaller others offer garage cars or mini-buses for tourists as well as for local use. These cars serve in Baguio and to any point of destination from the city.

Businesswise, Baguio City is serviced by the Baguio-Benguet Truckers Association for freight. This association is composed of 18 truckers with one or a number of units each.

According to their spokesman, hauling vegetables from Benguet and Baguio constitute the bulk of their service. Since February 1974, the freight charge has increased to P0.07 a kilo from Baguio to Manila and vice-versa. The association reasons that this is necessary in view of the increase in prices of trucks, spare parts, fuel, and taxes.

The city also has a number of jeeps and taxis. There are about 15 regular routes with an average of 50 jeeps to a route. Jeepney drivers of each route have their organizations with the Pines Operators and Drivers Association as the mother unit.

Unlike the jeeps, the number of taxis can hardly be determined. This is because an operator can apply for a franchise even if he has just one unit, says German Mendoza, local Land Transportation Commission registrar.

JC Taxi, which may be considered a big taxi company, has more than 30 units. Other operators have one to 20 units.

This foregoing practice holds true for garage cars, according to a garage operator. Prior to martial law, the kabit or colorum system was rampant. Many units offered services without franchises. After martial law, only a few may be named as operators bearing official names of companies. However, there were individuals who were granted permits by the Board of Transportation even when they had only one unit. These may not have the official company names, but they are operating nevertheless.

Another garage operator bewails a wrong practice of some operators who use owner plates allowing them lower rates and consequent taxes. This also attracts patrons who pass themselves off as owners of the hired car.

With the energy crisis, the use of garage cars is now limited to the need of patrons to hire a car. Previously the use of garage cars was regarded as a necessary convenience.

Competing with tourist cars and taxi cabs are local jeeps for “special” or “short” trips for sightseeing around the city. Since there is no standard rate for the services of these jeeps, the drivers dictate their prices.

A problem of transport in Baguio is the availability of spare parts. While there are business establishments in the city that sell these parts, their prices are to be reckoned with, claims one jeep owner. This is understandable since there are only a few dealers around and it is quite a distance from other spare part dealers in other provinces, the same informant reasoned.

The transportation industry in Baguio has still to attract car and truck dealers to establish a dealer network in the city. Added to this is the necessity for these dealers to guarantee availability of spare parts and after-sales services. International Harvester may be mentioned as the only truck dealer with a branch office in the city. Other than IH, La Trinidad is the nearest place where there are other dealers.

Because of the lack of after-sales service, machine shops have proliferated like sari-sari stores. The repercussions of the oil crisis is also felt in Baguio. While other places near the business centers of Greater Manila cost a passenger P0.20 in minimum fare, equal or shorter Baguio routes cost P0.25.

The growth of the city as an educational, business, and tourist center will have concomitant results from and prospects for the transportation industry to and from and around Baguio.

**First published on September 1, 1974

Supplement Articles
:: Which Baguio Centennial?
:: Baguio Midland Courier Builder
:: The 4 Fs across
the times
:: Kennon’s own report on the famous zig–zag
:: What if Baguio settled for a railroad
:: Baguio: A Citadel of Learning
:: Growing up in early Baguio
:: Early recollections
:: Baguio’ cool climate keeps tourism, economy vibrant
:: Development of Burnham Park is city’ concern
:: Remembering the lessons of the past for the future: The Baguio City Market
:: Look, young man, on this tree city, now
:: The Anatomy of Squatting in Summer Capital
:: Baguio’s Many People
:: Bring Baguio Home
:: The Cordillera Warriors
:: A native–born scans: The Future of Baguio
:: Cement Pours into Baguio
:: A futuristic master plan for Baguio
:: Should BMC start tweeting?
:: Behind the scenes: searching the Midland Archives
:: 62 years of important events in the city
:: My hometown
Baguio City

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