The infamous, omnipresent Metro Manila traffic is a major time waster and something that busy people like you could do without in your life.
While nothing short of a miracle – or a boxing match – can clear out the streets of the metro, you can lessen the stress of sitting in a virtual parking lot by planning ahead using these traffic tools.
Waze is a navigation app that lets you know which route to take to avoid highly congested areas. It’s famous for utilizing the myriad networks of smaller roads to avoid traffic at major highways like EDSA.
You can put in your destination and get an update on the traffic status on its map view even before beginning your trip. You have the option of saving a pre-planned trip or favorite places.
One unique thing about Waze is how it sends a warning pop-up when it senses you’re moving while typing in a destination. It’s trying to prevent texting while driving, so simply tap “I’m a passenger” (only if you really are!) to start the nav.
Once you register, your car will appear as a little icon on the map, which all users can see. If you’d rather keep your trips private, go invisible!
Waze is also the most socially-inclined navigation app. You can connect it to Facebook and add friends to see where they’ve been. It’s also rooted in crowdsourcing – users can report road incidents as well as take photos of destinations to give others a better idea of what the place they might be looking for looks like.
There’s also a leaderboard component where you earn points, but these are plainly for leveling up your little car icon from a “baby Wazer” with a pacifier to “Waze royalty” with a crown.
You can also check your “inbox” for official traffic announcements or bulletins.
This is the official app of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which is the government entity responsible for handling road and traffic issues in major highways along Metro Manila. They came up with a very straightforward app showing traffic flow via 3 views:
- System view – a flat series of lines showing both northbound and southbound lanes indicated by colors – green for light, orange or yellow for moderate, and red for heavy traffic
- Map view – the same color indicators overlayed on Google Maps-style map, but without the specificity of which lanes are covered.
- Line view – basic grid view of street names, bookended by color indicated tabs for both north and southbound. This is the best option if you want to look into situations in a specific area.
Alternative: MMDA Traffic Navigator 2.0
This is a completely different app that harnesses the traffic update features of the previous one, while incorporating the MMDA Twitter account for text updates. Added features include a directory and list of hotlines for emergencies like police stations, fire stations, flood control, and medical institutions according to area.
3. Google Maps
The ever trusty Google Maps is your friend for no-nonsense navigating and exploration.
By default, it shows you the “explore” tab, where you can choose which lifestyle markers you want the map to show – things like restaurants, pharmacies, and ATMs. Photos of your surrounding area can also be viewed below.
For navigating, head to the “driving” tab, where color indicators are overlaid on streets – green for light traffic, red for heavy flow. It also provides you with a general overview of traffic in your area. Should you not want step-by-step directions, you can choose an option where you get real-time traffic updates while driving instead.
4. Southern Tollways
This app is very similar to the original MMDA app with its three views. The only difference is that it covers the southern roads from Skyway Buendia all the way to Balagtas, Batangas (which is outside Metro Manila).
This is the only offline navigation app on the list, which could prove very useful since mobile internet in the Philippines tends to get choppy at certain times of the day.
Navitel lets you choose between a 2D and 3D map view. There are abundant cursors indicating different establishments. On the upper toolbar, there are icons for cloud backup, weather updates, connecting to Facebook and chatting with friends.
One downside of Navitel is its clunky graphics and non-intuitive design, which makes it confusing to use. Also, if you want to permanently use it, you’d have to shell out for the premium version because the free one is only a trial.
Major news networks, tollways and highways, and government institutions, including the MMDA, have official Twitter accounts that they update regularly with news about road conditions.
If you want up-to-the-minute traffic updates popping up on your notifications, or if you have some questions, do follow these official accounts:
|Official MMDA||Frequent updates about road works or vehicular accidents with occasional traffic advisories covering Metro Manila|
|SLEX||Hourly traffic updates with some posts about nice destinations that can be reached via South Luzon Expressway|
|NLEX||Non-consistent but frequent updates with CCTV screenshots and travel advisories of different parts along the North Luzon Expressway|
|CAVITEX||Hourly updates of screenshots showing status of northbound and southbound lanes with indicators green yellow red light moderate heavy of exits and toll plazas along Manila-Cavite Expressway|
|Skyway||Multiply hourly updates of different parts of Skyway, with some splashes of nice destinations|
|Toll Regulatory Board||Multiple daily updates on different parts of SLEX and NLEX with photos (but somehow stopped in early April)|
|Makati Traffic||Updates every 15mins covering different major roads in Makati like Ayala Ave., Makati Ave, Gil Puyat, Chino Roces, Kalayaan, etc.|
All apps mentioned, except for the MMDA 2.0, are available for both iOS and Android.
The trick to avoiding traffic in the metro is knowing beforehand how bad it’s going to be considering factors like the weather, holiday, and general time of day. With that, you can plan your routes ahead to maximize your driving time using the traffic update tools above.