I recently went to Aurora with a friend and I decided, instead of falling in line at the bus station for tickets on the day of our departure, to book tickets online for two reasons: I wanted to make sure we’d actually leave at the time we wanted (past experiences have proven this can be tricky when leaving for the weekend to go to a popular destination), and I wanted to see what’s got people raving about JoyBus.
JoyBus is the deluxe coach of Genesis Bus, currently the only bus line that has a direct trip to Aurora. Joy Bus is supposedly the equivalent of flying: bus stewardess, pillows and blankets, some snacks, and a toilet on board, all of which you can experience as you travel while resting your ass on a nice, relaxing La-Z-Boy type of seat.
Booking the tickets was easy enough; I just went to Pinoy Travel, chose the departure time I wanted (and the kind of bus that leaves at that time; I chose the 2:30 AM departure serviced by the Deluxe bus, which is just a bit more expensive than the Semi-Deluxe), waited for the email confirmation, and paid through a bank deposit. I then received another email that I needed to print out to present at the ticketing booth at the station to get the tickets.
On the day of our trip, we were at the station at around 12:30AM (a little exaggerated, I know, but JoyBus has a policy of forfeiting bus tickets if you’re late, and I get antsy at the prospect of being late for anything), and claimed our tickets pretty quickly. On it was listed our preassigned seats. By around 1:30AM, we were allowed to board the bus.
Inside, the bus is pretty spacious and low-density, which I was glad for; I wanted some peace and quiet to grab a few hours’ sleep. It was cold, too, so I was glad they have pillows and blankets. Or so the blogs I’ve read claimed.
Upon reaching the seat, I found no pillows or blankets. I was fine without the pillow since I brought my own, but when I asked for a blanket, the stewardess told me they didn’t have one. Well, shit. Here I thought I was going to be all nice and snuggly with a blanket, and they tell me they don’t have one. I was wearing a jacket in preparation for the chill, but for someone like me who gets cold easily, it was sadly no match for the coldness of the North-Pole-like atmosphere of the bus, and therefore the assistance of a blanket during the five-hour trip would’ve been more than welcome.
They did give out snacks—a pack of biscuits and a bottle of water—and the bus did have a bathroom (I didn’t get to use it; I was too busy not having a blanket), so I can’t fault them for that. Also, we did get to Baler faster since the bus made no stops for bathroom or snack breaks.
I know I sound like Debbie Downer for complaining about the lack of blanket, but for someone who expected more for a payment of Php1,400 for two tickets (actually, it was Php1,485; there was a Php85 service charge), not getting all that’s supposedly included in the trip was a real bummer (I’m pretty sure I also read somewhere that they give out these morning kits with soap and stuff so you can freshen up after the ride).
I’m happy for the other people who’ve had a better experience than I have, and I actually wouldn’t mind trying JoyBus again, but I hope the company gets their shit together and be consistent in delivering their service so the rest of us don’t end up disappointed.
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