The Complicated World of NAIA's Public Transportation System

First of all, we're talking about the land-side of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)'s public transport. Second, this isn't a "how to get in and out of NAIA" article, like what we had back in the past. This is just to appreciate how complicated, complex, and nakakawindang our public transport system to and from, and in-between, the country's premiere gateway.

Given the notoriety of some taxi drivers (from being choosy, additional and sometimes illegal additional fees, cleanliness, to crime—I’m looking at you, LTFRB!) serving the airport, Uber being suspended, and Grab being expensive due to “supply and demand,” getting to know the nitty-gritty details of NAIA’s public transport system may save some bucks on your pocket.

NAIA Terminal 3's Check-In Lobby
Unlike Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore-Changi, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, and some other airports in developed nations, NAIA doesn’t have a dedicated metro lane connected to the entire mass public transport system of the city it hosts. Though several airport shuttles, both economy and premium ones, have been launched to make travelling in and out of the airport more comfortable and convenient, it isn’t yet as seamless as developed nations have. We still need to get off a bus stop, walk a few meters and find the next route to our destination, and vice-versa. It’s not like KL Sentral or Tanah Merah or Central Hong Kong where you can just alight one platform to and from the airport service. No.

Airport to Airplane Service.
In our past articles, we’ve tried to assist commuters how to get in and out of NAIA through public transport, and to be honest, it isn’t as simple as one, two, and three. So we’ve created a map in an attempt to “simplify” the routes as much as possible. That isn’t the case.

Terminal 1 and 2

Terminals 1 and 2 are the most well-connected airport terminals in NAIA, because buses that ply at EDSA (Route MIA 6-11) pass by these terminals and has respective, albeit inconvenient (there are no waiting sheds, seats, or anything) bus stops.

NAIA Terminal 1
Aside from it, Terminal 1 is located in front of Sucat Road, where jeepneys and UV Express services plying from Sucat District of Paranaque to Lawton in City of Manila, Baclaran, or Makati pass by. Ideally, it should be just a convenient walk from the arrival or departure area.
Same case as of Terminal 2, jeepneys that ply to Baclaran pass by the same stop as the MIA 6-11 bus route passes by.

The area is the loading/unloading bus stop for MIA 6-11 Public Utility Buses. No waiting shed. Good luck with the heat and rain.
Moving in between Terminal 1 and 2 is a one-way affair. In the public transport system, the bus and jeepneys pass by Terminal 2 first, before Terminal 1, then go back to MIA Road towards Roxas Boulevard. Passengers in Terminal 2 can transfer easily to Terminal 1, but not vice-versa. Good thing, MIAA has addressed it by implementing an airport shuttle system in between terminals.

The encircled area is where the bus stop for MIA 6-11 bus and jeepneys are located. Also, no waiting shed.

Terminal 4: Domestic Terminal

Terminal 4

Perhaps the most pitiful among all the terminals, it has served as the domestic terminal for flights back  in the past. Today, AirAsia and the turboprop flights of Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and AirSwift call this their home.

The airport as viewed from NAIAEx

Getting here is quite easy. Just take a jeepney from MIA 6-11 (Cross the road first towards the other side of MIA Road) and disembark at Terminal 4 (yes, there is no waiting shed there too). To get off the terminal, just take a jeepney that leads you to either Pasay Rotunda (MRT) or Baclaran. From there, bahala ka na sa buhay mo.

Why is it pitiful? Aside that it doesn’t have a dedicated exit at NAIA Expressway, you need to pass by the congested roads surrounding it. Plus, it is far away from any bus or UV Express route. If it wasn’t for the airport shuttle service, getting here and out would have sound miserable.

Terminal 3

The well-wisher's area of Terminal 3 on peak season.

Terminal 3 is the current “crown jewel” of NAIA. It is spacious, more comfortable, more parking spaces, more flights, more shops, and close by some high-end hotels of Newport City. It is also well-connected as NAIA Expressway has dedicated exits for motorists heading either to EDSA or Alabang via SLEX-Skyway, or Cavite and Manila through CavitEx-Roxas Boulevard-Macapagal Exits. For those who have cars—yes, it’s the best option. For those who don’t have, getting here has been a challenge since it first opened to the public.

Terminal 2, viewed from Terminal 3

Getting here (not by taxi, Uber/Grab, and Ube Express) poses a challenge bordering to Amazing Race on rush hours.
  • There is a shuttle service worth PhP20 from Pasay Rotunda to Terminal 3 and will pass by Baclaran. At least it heads straight to the terminal and back.
  • There are jeepneys bound for Nichols, also at Pasay Rotunda. It's only more or less PhP10, but needs to walk from the jeepney stop just a few meters from NAIA Terminal 3 gates.

The terminal of both the airport shuttle and jeepney is just at the back of Hotel Sogo in Pasay Rotunda, just a stride from LRT-1’s EDSA Station, and MRT-3’s Taft Avenue Station. Take note though, this isn’t seamless. You need to climb up, climb down, struggle pass by the crowd, and evade pickpockets.

MRT Taft Avenue Station. The terminal for airport is located just beside the station, but needs to endure the crowd, scaling the stairs, and evade pickpockets.

Getting out using the Pasay Rotunda-Terminal 3 Airport Shuttle (or the Nichols jeepney) isn’t also the fastest. It will pass by Baclaran and Andrews Avenue—some of Manila’s most congested thoroughfares and places.

Ube Express

Launched sometime in 2015, Ube Express is a response to the clamour for a hassle-free commuting in and out of NAIA. It has several routes for the convenience of the commuters. The terminals are located at the following areas:
  • ·         SM Mall of Asia (Pasay City)
  • ·         Robinsons Place Ermita (Ermita, City of Manila)
  • ·         Park Square, Ayala Center (Makati City)
  • ·         Victory Liner Pasay Terminal (Pasay City)

Inside the Ube Express Bus. It's spacious and more comfortable. Its cons are its expense and still using the same congested thoroughfares on most of its routes.

Though a bit expensive at PhP150, and still passes by the congested roads (though I’m not sure whether they pass by NAIAEx), it is way more comfortable than the “ordinary” public transport existing in the airport. You can book online ( or use your Beep Card. Just take note though that routes may change. Better ask the driver or the conductor.

Couldn’t Help But Ask, Why?

When we went to Singapore, we were impressed with how seamless commuting is from downtown Singapore to Changi Airport, in less than an hour—on a rush hour! We were impressed with Hong Kong’s Airport which you can check-in for your flight NOT in the airport terminal itself, but at Hong Kong Station before you ride the Airport Express. Kuala Lumpur has KLIA Ekspres which transports people from downtown KL to the airport in less than an hour. Can’t help but ask, why can’t we do it?

There’s already too much trouble in our mass public transport system. Obviously, Manila and the Philippines has been left behind when it comes to infrastructure. Unfortunately, priorities favor those who own cars. They built NAIAEx, but only had Ube Express as a response for public mass transport?

At Tana Merah Station in Singapore. You can just transfer platforms to go to the airport.

PNR Southrail is just a few meters away from Terminal 3 and NAIA. LRT-1’s depot is located at Andrews Avenue—a stone’s throw away from the airport and the runway! They built Newport City beside Terminal 3, but it’s not connected to any Metro system.

PNR Railway is just a few meters away from NAIA, why can't they create a connecting rail for it? It could have connected Makati and Manila easier, right?

If Clark Airport pushes through, how would the people connect to far-away Pampanga without an efficient and seamless system of mass public transportation?

LRT's depot is just a stone's throw away from NAIA itself. If only our leaders were more "forward thinking" back then (or even now). While LRT has been made in the 1980's, Marcos's ministers could have just connected the airport to the metro, at least. We guess "di pa uso noon?"

Sabi nga ni Avril Lavigne sa kanta niya, “Why do they have to go and make things so complicated?”

Convenient way to go to HKG Airport, despite it being expensive. The bus system in Hong Kong though is way efficient than what we have in EDSA.

Our prayer is that this “Build, Build, Build” program would push through for the convenience of the greater public, and not another suntok sa buwan. Our hope is that it'll come true, someday, somehow.