Transportation in the Philippines
This article describes the various forms of transportation in the Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,000 islands.


During this period, there were 50,000 automobiles in the region. The carabao
The carabao or Bubalus bubalis carabanesis is a subspecies of the domesticated water buffalo found in the Philippines, Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and various parts of Southeast Asia...

 was used as a primary transportation source. The country's first public mass-vehicular transportation service was De Dios Transit Bus Corp., providing public mass transportation in major roads of Manila after the Second World War.


There were 1,400 km of narrow-gauge track, owned by either the Manila Railroad Company
Philippine National Railways
The Philippine National Railways , or PNR, is a state-owned railway company in the Philippines, operating a single line of track on Luzon. As of 2010, it operates one commuter rail service in Metro Manila and a second in the Bicol Region. PNR restored its intercity service to the Bicol region in 2011...

 (based in Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

) or the Philippine Railway Company (an American company based in Panay
Panay may refer to*Panay Island*Panay *Panay, Capiz*Panay River*Panay Gulf* USS Panay *Panay incident...

 and Cebu
Cebu City
The City of Cebu is the capital city of Cebu and is the second largest city in the Philippines, the second most significant metropolitan centre in the Philippines and known as the oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country.The city is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was...

). 1,130 km of these tracks were on Luzon, with about 50% of this amount located in the central plain. In addition, there were some 400 km of privately owned track in the central plain of Luzon. All of this, with the exception of a stretch above Manila, was single-track.


There were 22,960 km of highway in the Philippine archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

. More than half of these roads were in central and southern Luzon and three major highways of this island were, and probably still are, Routes 1, 3, and 5. These routes were two-lane roads with concrete or asphalt
Asphalt or , also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid that is present in most crude petroleums and in some natural deposits, it is a substance classed as a pitch...

 surfacing. Each of these 3 roads enters the capital, Manila, and their access roads linked the various parts of the island.

Road System

The Philippines has 199950 kilometres (124,243.5 mi) of roads, of which 39590 kilometres (24,600.1 mi) are paved. As of 2004, the total length of the non-toll road network was reported to be 202,860 km, with the following breakdown according to type:
  • National roads - 15%
  • Provincial roads - 13%
  • City and municipal roads - 12%
  • Barangay
    A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward...

    - 60%

Road classification is based primarily on administrative responsibilities (with the exception of barangays), i.e., which level of government built and funded the roads. Most of the barangay roads are unpaved village-access roads built in the past by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), but responsibility for maintaining these roads have now been devolved to the Local Government Units (LGUs). Farm-to-market roads fall under this category, and a few are financed by the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Agriculture. However, despite having a large road network built over the country, large parts of the road network continue to be in poor condition and only 20 percent of the total road network is paved.

Strong Republic Nautical Highway

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway links many of the islands' road networks through a series of roll-on/roll-off ferries, some rather small covering short distances and some larger vessels that might travel several hours or more.

Mass Transit

Mass transit in the Philippines range from bangka
Bangka can refer to:* Bangka Island, an island of Indonesia* Bangka Regency, Indonesia* Bangka Strait, a strait of Indonesia* Bangka language, spoken in Indonesia* Tagalog: bangka, an outrigger canoe* Wanhua District, Taipei City...

(small pump boat
Pump boat
A pump boat is an outrigger canoe powered by a small gasoline or diesel engine. Smaller pump boats might be powered by the sort of small single-cylinder engine which might be used to drive a water pump...

s made out of aluminum or wood) to the large and sturdy trains that operate on Luzon. The most ubiquitous form of transport is the jeepney, affluently named the King of the Road. Other include buses, tricycles or motorcycles with sidecars, motorcycles, and trisikads. Buses and jeepneys are lumped together and called "public utility vehicles" or PUVs, or separated referred to as PUB for "public utility bus" and PUJ for "public utility jeepney".

Bus Companies

Buses operate throughout the country, and they come in all forms and sizes, from small, rusty boxes to large, luxury coaches that run through the highways and roads of the Philippines. Routes run everywhere in the country, with some companies operating through islands other than just Luzon.


The jeepney
Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating...

(commonly referred to as a jeep) is the equivalent of a mini-bus found everywhere in the country. It carries between 16 to 30 passengers, comes both in air conditioned and ordinary (non-air conditioned) forms, and these usually operate where buses operate less frequently (e.g. side streets in Metro Manila, provincial highways). The jeepney
Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating...

evolved from the surplus of World War II jeeps that the Americans left behind after the war.


There are many railroads around the country but only a few in or serving Metro Manila are operating.

Other Forms of Mass Transit

  • Taxi
    Taxicabs of the Philippines
    Taxicabs of the Philippines are one of the modes of transportation in the country. They are regulated by the Department of Transportation and Communications and by the Land Transportation Office . The taxicabs there vary from models and uses...

  • Mini-buses - Derived from truck chassis.
  • Tricycles - A type of Auto rickshaw
    Auto rickshaw
    An auto rickshaw or three-wheeler is a usually three-wheeled cabin cycle for private use and as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw...

    . A typical form of mass transportation of a poor, third-world country such as the Philippines. A regular motorcycle with additional passenger seating. Designs vary but are usually fairly standard within a municipality. Passenger seating is usually in a side car attached to the right side, but some designs seat passengers in a towed trailer or enclose the motorcycle inside of a body structure. Passenger seating capacity
    Seating capacity
    Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...

     varies for different designs, ranging from two up to seven or more. One or two additional passengers may be seated behind the driver, usually riding sidesaddle on the motorcycle.
  • Kuliglig
    A kuliglig is a vehicle composed of a two-wheeled trailer pulled by a two wheeled tractor similar to a rotary tiller. It is powered by multi-purpose diesel or gasoline engine, commonly used in the provinces of the Philippines...

     - Illegal DIY motorcycle using multi-purpose diesel or gasoline engines, usually with a sidecar attached—similar to a tricycle.
  • Kalesa
    A kalesa or calesa is a horse drawn calash used in the Philippines. The word, also spelled calesa, predates the...

     - A Spanish-era form of transportation that still exists in the capital and in some provinces.
  • Trisikads - A cycle rickshaw
    Cycle rickshaw
    The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, becak, trisikad, or trishaw or, simply, rickshaw which also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot...

     or pedaled bike with a sidecar attached to the side, much like a tricycle.

'Merchant marine

Total: 480 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,973,024 GRT/

Ships by type
Bulk 159, cargo 122, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 9, container 7, liquified gas 13, livestock carrier 9, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 12, petroleum tanker 47, refrigerated cargo 20, roll-on/roll-off 19, short-sea passenger 32, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 20 (1999 est.)
A flag of convenience
Flag of convenience
The term flag of convenience describes the business practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship's owners, and flying that state's civil ensign on the ship. Ships are registered under flags of convenience to reduce operating costs or avoid the...

 registry: Japan owns 19 ships, Hong Kong 5, Cyprus 1, Denmark 1, Greece 1, Netherlands 1, Singapore 1, and UK 1 (1998 est.)

Ports and harbors

The main gateway to the Philippines through the sea is through the Manila International Cargo Terminal
Port of Manila
The Port of Manila is the largest seaport in the Philippines, and is the premier international shipping gateway to the country. It is located in the vicinity of Manila Bay.-Port Area:...

 and the Eva Macapagal Port Terminal, both in the pier area of Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

. Other cities with bustling ports and piers include Bacolod
Bacolod City
The City of Bacolod , is a highly urbanized midsize Philippine city. It is the capital of the Negros Occidental province. Having a total of 499,497 inhabitants as of August 1, 2007, it is the most populous city in the Western Visayas Region. It is currently ranked as the 17th most populous city in...

, Batangas City
Batangas City
- Foreign Rule :The first Spanish missionaries arrived in Batangas City since 1572. Finally on 1581 Spanish authorities governing the Philippines created a pueblo in the area which included the hill where the present Provincial Capitol of Batangas stands after the formal end of the Coumintang...

, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu
Cebu City
The City of Cebu is the capital city of Cebu and is the second largest city in the Philippines, the second most significant metropolitan centre in the Philippines and known as the oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country.The city is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was...

, Davao
Davao City
The City of Davao is the largest city in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Its international airport and seaports are among the busiest cargo hubs in the Philippines....

, Butuan, Iligan, Iloilo
Iloilo City
The City of Iloilo is a highly urbanized city in the Philippines and the capital city of Iloilo province. It is the regional center of the Western Visayas, as well as the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area...

, Jolo
Jolo may refer to:* Jolo Island* Jolo, Sulu* Jolo, West Virginia* Jolo is also the nickname of Swedish author Jan Olof Olsson....

, Legazpi
Legazpi City
The City of Legazpi is a first class city and capital of the province of Albay, Philippines. With 179,481 inhabitants according to the 2007 census, it is the largest city in the Bicol Region in terms of population, though not in land area...

, Lucena
Lucena City
Metro Lucena has an estimated population of 700,000 which is mostly concentrated in the flat south-central portion of Quezon, which includes the cities of Lucena and Tayabas, Sariaya, Candelaria, Lucban & Pagbilao . The people are often characterized as friendly and hardworking...

, Puerto Princesa, San Fernando
San Fernando City, La Union
The City of San Fernando in La Union is a 1st class component city in the Philippines. It is the capital city of La Union and the regional center of the Ilocos Region...

, Subic
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Subic Bay Freeport Zone , which is known simply as Subic Bay, is the Philippines' first success case of a into a tax- and duty-free zone similar to Hong Kong and Singapore, operated and managed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority or SBMA. It covers the fenced area of the former U.S...

, Zamboanga
Zamboanga City
The City of Zamboanga : is a highly urbanized, independent and a chartered city located in Mindanao, Philippines....

, Cotabato
Cotabato City
The City of Cotabato is one of the cities of the Philippines located in Mindanao. Cotabato City is an exclave of the SOCCSKSARGEN region found within the boundaries of Maguindanao province, but is independent of that province...

, Allen
Allen, Northern Samar
Allen is a 5th class municipality in the province of Northern Samar, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 20,066 people in 4,145 households...

, Ormoc, Ozamiz and Tagbilaran. Most of these terminals comprise the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, a nautical system conceptualized under the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo where land vehicles can use the roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) ship service to traverse the different islands of the country at minimal costs.

River ferries

The Pasig River Ferry Service
Pasig River Ferry Service
The Pasig River Ferry Service, was the only water-based transportation that cruised the Pasig River from Barangay Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City to Intramuros, Manila. The system is owned and operated by a private company, SCC Nautical Transport Services Incorporated...

 - Used to serve the "Pasig River
Pasig River
The Pasig River is a river in the Philippines that connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay. Stretching for , it is lined by Metro Manila on each side...

" from Plaza Mexico, Intramuros, Manila to Barangay
A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward...

 Kalawaan Sur, Pasig City
Pasig City
The City of Pasig is one of the city municipalities of Metro Manila in the Philippines and was the former capital of the province of Rizal prior to the formation of this grouping of cities designated as the National Capital Region...

. There are also river ferries on the island of Samar
Samar, formerly and also known as Western Samar, is a province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Catbalogan City and covers the western portion of Samar as well as several islands in the Samar Sea located to the west of the mainland...


Air transportation

Philippine Airports (1999 est.)
Runway length Paved Unpaved
> 3047 m 4 0
2438–3047 m 5 0
1524–2437 m 26 3
914–1523 m 31 66
< 914 m 10 121
Total 76 190
Paved + Unpaved = 266

See also

  • Department of Public Works and Highways
    Department of Public Works and Highways (Philippines)
    The Philippines’ Department of Public Works and Highways , abbreviated as DPWH, is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for all safety of projects in the field of public works...

  • Department of Transportation and Communications
    Department of Transportation and Communications (Philippines)
    The Department of Transportation and Communications is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the maintenance and expansion of viable, efficient, and dependable transportation and communications systems as effective instruments for national recovery and economic...

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