Let’s say you plan to visit Baguio, the Philippines’ summer capital.
Except you’re unwilling and/or physically unprepared for the long drive to the city (a pity, especially if you don’t have a car.)
What to do?
Easy: You can buy or rent a car and hire a driver.
But that’s only if you make as much money as a good-for-nothing corporate vice-president, a useless government executive, or a corrupt jueteng lord.
For mere mortals, the only remaining option is to take the bus to Baguio.
But what kind of bus?
Will you take the one that leaves every half-hour, forcing you to scramble madly for seats while burdened with luggage heavier than your teenage daughter’s romantic angst?
Or will you choose a pricier but more convenient alternative?
Depends on your priorities and resources.
If you have cash to spare, you can hop on a Victory Liner Manila-Baguio Deluxe bus, which charges more than half for its regular aircon trips that cost P400.
But is P700 worth the whole trip?
For some passengers, it is.
Wider seats, faster trip, bragging rights, and yes, toilets. [See: Five reasons to take Victory Liner’s Manila-Baguio Deluxe Buses]
But some may disagree, especially those with limited supplies of cash.
After all, why pay extra for convenience that may last for less than a day? Why indeed?
Here are three reasons why you may want to reconsider the decision to hop on that bus, Gus.*
(Disclaimer: No arrangement, financial or otherwise, has been entered into by Victory Liner, its competitors, and this website.)
1) Prehistoric ticket reservation process.
Has Victory Liner ever heard of the Internet, that nifty gadget invented by former US vice president Al Gore (who also created the myth of climate change)? If it hasn’t yet, then the company should call up the US Embassy and request a free briefing. But seriously, if an airline company which arguably has more complicated operations can allow passengers to book their tickets online, why can’t Victory do the same?
To this day, Victory’s system is laughably prehistoric.
To book a reservation onboard the Manila-Baguio Deluxe Bus, passengers are required to personally pay a visit to its Cubao terminal at least a day before departure date, fall in line at one of the windows, and hope that the clerk gets the time and seat number right.
And passengers better make sure that their dogs don’t eat their tickets. Because if they do, little old Brownie better cough it up.
Since clerks don’t ask for your name during booking, showing proof that you actually paid for a seat is going to be more difficult than taking a crap inside the toilet while the bus is on Kennon. (Fortunately, none of that has ever happened to me yet.)
2) Buses have different standards.
Different buses serve the route.
Therefore, each bus has a different feature.
Others have electricity outlets useful for juicing up your iPod or your netbook. Some do not.
Having said that, only three things stay the same: comfort room, television, and free bottled water and snacks onboard.
Next time you climb onboard, don’t count on charging your phone and/or gadget while en route. After all, you don’t want to miss that incoming spam text message, even while sleeping.
And since cellphones have been brought up: Stewardesses onboard trips – stewardesses, yes, that’s what they call themselves – would do well to ask passengers to put their cellphones on silent mode during the trip. Hearing cellphones go off can ruin perfectly good B-movies shown onboard.
3) Buses lack features and suffer from poor upkeep.
Although seats offer more space, some may not work at all.
As a result, whenever passengers need to recline or push the seats back up, they almost always require staff assistance.
Which actually happened to me on the very first time I got on a deluxe bus to Baguio.
For some reason, the knob that controls my seat’s leg rest was broken off from the whole mechanism.
Whenever I felt the need to put my foot up, I had to call the attendant, who didn’t trust me enough that she kept the knob to herself.
Good thing I’m not a finicky passenger – reader alert: I am talking about myself here – so I let that whole inconvenience issue slide.
That same bus also didn’t have those basket-type wire bags attached to the back of the seat in front of you. (The bus that I took on the way back to Manila did have this though).
As a result, items I wanted to have easy access to during the whole trip was stored improperly.
The book I was reading was squeezed into one of the handles while my bulky, overused smartphone was able to withstand my heft as it snuggled beside me.
I’m happy to report that both items – a Vintage UK trade paperback edition of Martin Amis’ Money and a Treo 650 – survived the trip.
And yes, one other thing: Since the bus provided internet access anyway, is a lap desk for each deluxe passenger who can use them for their laptops too much to ask?
*From the No Need to be Coy, Roy Dept. The phrase was borrowed from the lyrics of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover as sung by Paul Simon.