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City‑based surfers champion an online bus ticket booking platform 

August 29, 2017

Digital Reporter

Cover art Samantha Gonzales

What is the best way to travel to the best-surfing destinations in Luzon? By plane, obviously. But for those who want to save money, the next best option is to ride the bus. And it's the next best option because it's the only option left.

City‑based surfer girl Mirra Reyes co‑founded Biyaheroes with her friends after a lunch discussion on how difficult travel to the provinces could be, including her favorite surfing destination of La Union. “You could reserve movie seats and book restaurants online, why can’t you do that for bus travel? Public transportation in the Philippines is still very traditional,” Ms. Reyes told SparkUp.

“Biyaheroes is a centralized reservations platform inspired by the same process airlines use to reserve tickets,” she explains. “You can pick your destination, seats, schedule and then book your ticket with us online. You can also earn freebies and points if you sign up and make an account with us.”

This process saves the traveller a lot of time, effort and energy as normally this process involves going to the bus station a few days or a couple of hours earlier than your chosen schedule in hopes of getting the trip that you want. The platform accepts payment via Paypal, 7‑Eleven, bank deposit, and their payment partners (Cebuana Lhullier, Bayad Centre, LBC, SM). Biyaheroes charges a mere ₱50 peso booking fee (almost the same amount it costs if you personally went to the bus stations lined up in EDSA Cubao from within Quezon City, but without the hassle) for tickets that cost less ₱500 or less, or 10% of the ticket price for trips that exceed that amount.

It took Ms. Reyes and her friends two years to become operational, as a lot of work went into partnering up with existing bus companies. “We did a market study first,” she said. “We interviewed passengers, bus operators, and bus liner staff to ask why they continue to operate using their manual and traditional system. We had to make sure that they can mainstream their operations, and that they can handle what we had to offer.” During these two years Ms. Reyes left her office‑based job to work full-time at Biyaheroes, which she considers to be a more fulfilling occupation.

Art Samantha Gonzales

“We want to improve the public image of public transportation,” said Ms. Reyes, whose passion showed through with how enthusiastically she talked about their operations. She even wrote a position paper on the mess between the transport network vehicle services (ex. Grab, Uber) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and submitted it to the House Committee on Public Transportation for their consideration. “And the support has been overwhelming from both the public transportation and private sector. Our transportation partners are also glad to see that we offer this kind of system.” They eventually branched out to partnering with ro‑ro vessels for those island to island trips.

“We also handle dealing with specific concerns and complaints from passengers using Biyaheroes,” she added, not at all pikon like a certain indie movie director. “That way we get to address the issue immediately. We see this as an avenue to keep improving our services. Biyaheroes is a collaborative venture between us, our transportation partners and commuters. We merge all the feedback and suggestions to make our booking platforms one of the easiest and most convenient to use.”

Biyaheroes plans to expand their operation until they can make travel more convenient nationwide, Ms. Reyes said. “Our priority is local commute, even if we see the possibility to integrate with airline companies. It’s our priority to streamline public transportation and make sure that commuting in the Philippines is easy—something that can be done any time and anywhere with a few clicks of a button.”

Biyaheroes is currently partnered with the following transport operators for the following destinations:

  • Partas (Pasay, Cubao, Sampaloc, San Fernando La Union, Baguio, Vigan, Laoag, Abra, Pagudpud)

  • Jac Liner (Kamias, Buendia/LRT, Mauban, Marinduque)

  • Dagupan Bus Co. Inc. (Cubao, Bolinao, Manaoag, Lingayen, Agno)

  • LLi (Kamias, Buendia/LRT, Lucena)

  • Pangasinan Solid North Transport Inc. (Cubao, Dagupan, San Carlos)

  • Southwest Tours (Boracay), Inc. (Caticlan Airport, Caticlan Jetty, Port Cagban Port, D’Mall, as well as hotel drop-offs and pick ups)

  • Lexxus Shuttle (Airport/Hotel pick-up to El Nido, Sabang Port and Port Barton)

  • Silver Star Shuttle & Tours, Inc. (Cubao, Laguna, Samar, Leyte, Bohol)

  • Coda Lines (Cubao, Sagada, Banaue, Bontoc)

  • Davao Metro Shuttle (Abreeza Mall, Tagum City)

  • MSLI (Coron to El Nido, Palawan Fastcraft)

  • M/BCA Bunso Transportation (Mindoro, Coron, El Nido)