Photos: Gridlock a daily ordeal for Manila’s long-suffering commuters

Metro Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities fused together by outdated infrastructure, is creaking under the weight of millions of vehicles, owing largely to economic growth of more than six percent a year since 2012. Quality of life is poor for many urban Filipinos, who spend a chunk of their day commuting. President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday fixing Manila's traffic was the only campaign promise he had failed to deliver. The government is making some headway on an $180 billion programme to modernise roads, railways and airports, including a subway system set to begin construction on Wednesday. However, the building works are exacerbating snarl-ups.

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST 14 Photos
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Janice Sarad (C), 22, who works for a bank, sits inside a jeepney in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. “You have to push, shove, and run because everyone’s trying to get a seat. On the train, everyone tries to sneak on so they don’t have to wait. On the bus, there are usually no seats so you stand up the whole ride,” she said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Janice Sarad (C), 22, who works for a bank, sits inside a jeepney in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. “You have to push, shove, and run because everyone’s trying to get a seat. On the train, everyone tries to sneak on so they don’t have to wait. On the bus, there are usually no seats so you stand up the whole ride,” she said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Alejandro Galasao eats breakfast with his wife in their home in San Jose Del Monte City. It’s 3.30 a.m. and much of the city is fast asleep. Flashlight in hand, street sweeper Galasao, 58, navigates a labyrinth of alleys to a main road to catch a bus to the capital Manila 30 km away. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Alejandro Galasao eats breakfast with his wife in their home in San Jose Del Monte City. It’s 3.30 a.m. and much of the city is fast asleep. Flashlight in hand, street sweeper Galasao, 58, navigates a labyrinth of alleys to a main road to catch a bus to the capital Manila 30 km away. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Alejandro Galasao sleeps on a bus going to work. He has to wake up in the middle of the night for a job that doesn’t start until 6 a.m. Galasao only gets four to five hours of sleep each day. “To be honest, there's really not enough time to sleep. The earliest time I get to sleep is 20:00, sometimes 21:00 and then I have to wake up at 01:00.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Alejandro Galasao sleeps on a bus going to work. He has to wake up in the middle of the night for a job that doesn’t start until 6 a.m. Galasao only gets four to five hours of sleep each day. “To be honest, there's really not enough time to sleep. The earliest time I get to sleep is 20:00, sometimes 21:00 and then I have to wake up at 01:00.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Alejandro Galasao pushes a cart with cleaning supplies at Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. Traffic is so bad in Manila that if he leaves any later, there’s no way he will clock in on time. “If I go to work at rush hour, it would take me three hours,” Galasao told Reuters. “This is the only job I know. Even if I find something else, I doubt I would earn any better.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Alejandro Galasao pushes a cart with cleaning supplies at Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. Traffic is so bad in Manila that if he leaves any later, there’s no way he will clock in on time. “If I go to work at rush hour, it would take me three hours,” Galasao told Reuters. “This is the only job I know. Even if I find something else, I doubt I would earn any better.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Metro Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities fused together by outdated infrastructure, is creaking under the weight of millions of vehicles, owing largely to economic growth of more than 6% a year since 2012. Urban rail coverage is limited, trains are prone to breakdowns and queues spill onto streets where exhaust fumes are intoxicating. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Metro Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities fused together by outdated infrastructure, is creaking under the weight of millions of vehicles, owing largely to economic growth of more than 6% a year since 2012. Urban rail coverage is limited, trains are prone to breakdowns and queues spill onto streets where exhaust fumes are intoxicating. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Janice Sarad queues for her company’s free shuttle service going to the train station, in Taguig City. On a regular day she takes a train, a bus and two passenger jeeps to get to work. When Sarad doesn’t work overtime, she opts to take the free shuttle service to save money. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Janice Sarad queues for her company’s free shuttle service going to the train station, in Taguig City. On a regular day she takes a train, a bus and two passenger jeeps to get to work. When Sarad doesn’t work overtime, she opts to take the free shuttle service to save money. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Janice Sarad walks home in Antipolo City. A 2015 survey by navigation app Waze found that Manila had the world’s worst traffic congestion, partly due to a tripling of annual car sales from a decade ago. Sarad usually arrives home between 20:30 to 21:30. “My boss knows how far away my house is. When I get to work late, he just tells me to leave my home 30 minutes earlier to compensate,” she said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Janice Sarad walks home in Antipolo City. A 2015 survey by navigation app Waze found that Manila had the world’s worst traffic congestion, partly due to a tripling of annual car sales from a decade ago. Sarad usually arrives home between 20:30 to 21:30. “My boss knows how far away my house is. When I get to work late, he just tells me to leave my home 30 minutes earlier to compensate,” she said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Janice Sarad looks at the television as her sister eats a snack at their home. “There's no money left for me to save. My salary goes to my sister's tuition fee, bills to pay at home, and my fare to go to work. There is nothing left for me,” she said. “When I feel stressed, I try not to dwell on it. I just think about how lucky I am being able to work, and for getting home safely every day.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Janice Sarad looks at the television as her sister eats a snack at their home. “There's no money left for me to save. My salary goes to my sister's tuition fee, bills to pay at home, and my fare to go to work. There is nothing left for me,” she said. “When I feel stressed, I try not to dwell on it. I just think about how lucky I am being able to work, and for getting home safely every day.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Oliver Emocling, 23, works for a magazine and rides the train, but queues are so long that he arrives late often, risking docked wages. Emocling said usually the issue with his commute is not road traffic, but the crowds of commuters. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being whiny. Maybe I’m not really struggling in my commute. But I also wonder if I’ve just gotten used to the struggle,” he said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Oliver Emocling, 23, works for a magazine and rides the train, but queues are so long that he arrives late often, risking docked wages. Emocling said usually the issue with his commute is not road traffic, but the crowds of commuters. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being whiny. Maybe I’m not really struggling in my commute. But I also wonder if I’ve just gotten used to the struggle,” he said. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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“When I get home, it’s already 10 p.m.,” Emocling said. “I could be using that time to sleep more, rest more. Instead, my time gets wasted.” President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday fixing Manila’s traffic wasn’t easy, adding that it was the only campaign promise he had failed to deliver. He recently approved a law that encourages companies to support more employees to work from home. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

“When I get home, it’s already 10 p.m.,” Emocling said. “I could be using that time to sleep more, rest more. Instead, my time gets wasted.” President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday fixing Manila’s traffic wasn’t easy, adding that it was the only campaign promise he had failed to deliver. He recently approved a law that encourages companies to support more employees to work from home. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Oliver Emocling, walks to the train station in Caloocan City, Metro Manila. On weekdays, especially at rush hour, it takes him almost two hours to get to work. “I’ve accepted that this is the reality of having to work in Makati, and live in Malabon. This is how it is, no matter what I do, no matter what means of transportation I take.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Oliver Emocling, walks to the train station in Caloocan City, Metro Manila. On weekdays, especially at rush hour, it takes him almost two hours to get to work. “I’ve accepted that this is the reality of having to work in Makati, and live in Malabon. This is how it is, no matter what I do, no matter what means of transportation I take.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Ferdinand Tan, 53, wealth coach and motivational speaker, signs his books on financial advice in his home in Cainta City. When Tan is not at his speaking engagements, he works from home. His employees, both full-time and part-time, also work from home. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Ferdinand Tan, 53, wealth coach and motivational speaker, signs his books on financial advice in his home in Cainta City. When Tan is not at his speaking engagements, he works from home. His employees, both full-time and part-time, also work from home. (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Ferdinand Tan observes his daughter who is homeschooled in Cainta City. Tan and his wife decided to homeschool their children to maximise their hours every day. “I don’t want them to spend so much unproductive time travelling every single day. That’s time away from the family. And by the time they get home, they’re already tired.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Ferdinand Tan observes his daughter who is homeschooled in Cainta City. Tan and his wife decided to homeschool their children to maximise their hours every day. “I don’t want them to spend so much unproductive time travelling every single day. That’s time away from the family. And by the time they get home, they’re already tired.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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Tan customised his van to become a mobile office with a power supply, computer and even a foot massager so he could be productive on the road. “I cannot control the traffic, no one can really solve the traffic. So instead of complaining about it, I try to maximise and use it in order for me to leverage off the traffic,” he said. “I use unproductive time to be productive.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

Tan customised his van to become a mobile office with a power supply, computer and even a foot massager so he could be productive on the road. “I cannot control the traffic, no one can really solve the traffic. So instead of complaining about it, I try to maximise and use it in order for me to leverage off the traffic,” he said. “I use unproductive time to be productive.” (Eloisa Lopez / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2019 12:55 PM IST
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