July 2015
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Arrival at LAX

This is a follow-up to the last post on the San Diego Commuter Air Terminal.  I incorrectly stated that the info about the commuter terminal is current but it turned out  that its already closed and flights have been transferred to the main terminal. Thanks to a comment from one of my readers who pointed that out! Anyhow, from San Diego, our SkyWest plane landed at LAX and taxied to Terminal 8. I took the following photos at LAX upon arrival from San Diego.

IMG11207-20150508-1218Instead of a bridge or stairs, the airport was equipped with these combinations of covered stairs and walkways to the terminal building.

IMG11208-20150508-1219These seem to be especially fabricated for small aircraft and allowed for passengers to walk between aircraft and terminal for all weather conditions.

IMG11209-20150508-1222A look inside this ‘tube’ of sorts connecting the aircraft and the terminal

IMG11210-20150508-1222Inside Terminal 8 are passengers waiting for their boarding calls.

IMG11211-20150508-1224Another look around Terminal 8’s pre-departure lounge

IMG11213-20150508-1225Information about departures and arrivals are shown on the screens at the lounge

IMG11215-20150508-1228Long line for the shuttle to Terminal 4

IMG11218-20150508-1235Our shuttle care of American Eagle airlines

IMG11219-20150508-1235I was able to get a photo of an American Eagle airlines plane docked at one of the contraptions for enplaning/ deplaning passengers.

IMG11228-20150508-1239Buses wait their turns to drop-off and/or pick-up passengers at Terminal 4.

IMG11230-20150508-1240While waiting for our turn to alight from our bus, I took this photo of an American Airliner being serviced for luggage/freight.

IMG11234-20150508-1246Moving walkway from the arrival gate of the terminal to the baggage claim area

 
IMG11236-20150508-1247Information on arrivals served by a particular carousel are displayed on an LED screen. There is also information on the weather.

IMG11238-20150508-1249Passengers crowd around carousel 3 while waiting for their luggage to come out.

IMG11239-20150508-1253Busy driveway at LAX Terminal 4

IMG11240-20150508-1300Crosswalk between the airport terminal and the multi-level parking building

IMG11241-20150508-1301Long line of vehicles whose drivers are fetching arrivals

IMG11242-20150508-1301Parking shuttle and other airport shuttle buses passing through Terminal 4. There are vast parking lots located some distance away from the airport terminals that are used by travellers parking for long periods (i.e., park and fly for vacations or business trips).

IMG11243-20150508-1306Inside the airport parking building across from Terminal 4

IMG11244-20150508-1309Exit from the airport parking facility with the air traffic control tower in the background


IMG11246-20150508-1311The iconic central structure of LAX features modern architecture

San Diego Commuter Air Terminal

I’m starting July with a post I started writing after our trip to the US last May but which I only finished recently. The info won’t likely become stale for quite some time so its still pretty much informative for those traveling from San Diego by plane. [Correction: The terminal closed in early June with flights transferred to the main terminal or replaced by larger aircraft. For more info, you can check out this link.]

We mistakenly went to San Diego Airport’s main terminal. It turned out that our flight to Los Angeles would be via the smaller commuter terminal. It’s a good thing that they had an airport shuttle for the convenience of passengers traveling from one terminal to another. The commuter terminal sort of reminded me of the old low cost carrier terminal at Singapore’s Changi Airport but San Diego’s I think is much better in terms of amenities and design.

IMG11192-20150508-0940The counter at our boarding gate

IMG11193-20150508-1004The cafe/restaurant at the commuter terminal had a relaxed and comfortably feel about it

IMG11194-20150508-1004There was also a bar for those wanting to grab a quick drink, alcoholic or not, prior to their flights

IMG11198-20150508-1033Passengers waiting for their flights relax by conversing with their company, having a drink, listening to music or reading or just plain sitting and looking around. 

IMG11199-20150508-1123There’s a news stand at the terminal for those who want to grab something to read for the short flight or for later.

IMG11200-20150508-1124The path to the plane was clearly marked. We were fortunate that the rains stopped prior to our boarding the aircraft.

IMG11201-20150508-1124Our SkyWest plane is the smallest jet aircraft I’ve ridden on. The last time I was on an airplane of this size, it was on a turboprop between Tacloban and Manila. The space above the seats was limited and could probably fit a briefcase sized bag so if you have one of those backpacks or thicker bags with your computer, you would have to place them under the seat in front of you. Of course, this can be uncomfortable to many considering the also constricted leg room in these small aircraft.

Rains, floods and traffic

The wet season is here and with it the now typically heavy rains in the afternoons. Last week, the heavy rains brought upon flash floods in Metro Manila and adjacent towns. There have been no typhoons yet so these are mainly monsoon rains (Habagat), which we expect to be daily occurrences. Many of these floods are along major roads including EDSA, C5, Espana, and Quezon Ave. that transformed these roads into parking lots as most light vehicles are unable to traverse flooded streets.

11390151_10152810738186805_18884354179388413_nVehicles run along the flooded Elliptical Road in Quezon City

11390210_10152810738321805_9043366778214047404_nJeepneys and SUVs (at right in the photo) take on the flooded Elliptical Road-Quezon Avenue intersection

Due to the traffic congestion resulting from the floods, many public utility vehicles especially jeepneys and UV Express vehicles were not able to go back and make their round trips.

11391604_10152810738141805_4776796639676842585_nCars risk the floods along Elliptical Road – the deepest waters are, ironically and curiously, along the section fronting Quezon City Hall where there is a pedestrian underpass connecting city hall with the Quezon Memorial Circle. Since the underpass is not flooded then it can be concluded that there’s something wrong with the drainage for Elliptical Road.

The weather is a very significant consideration for transport planning for cities in the Philippines. For Metro Manila it is almost everyone’s concern about how they can travel between their homes, offices, schools and other destinations without them and their things getting wet. This is what a lot of people advocating for road sharing seem to forget or choose to forget in their arguments for walking and cycling. A person residing in Fairview in Quezon City and working in Makati City will most likely not walk or cycle between his home and office because of the weather. This is a reality that could be solved by good public transportation, which, unfortunately, we also don’t have (yet) so people are ‘forced’ to do what they can to improve their plight. Unfortunately, too, what they are forced to do is purchase a car (or more). The proposal to build infrastructure to enable walking and cycling especially over medium to long distance is in the same dilemma as those for mass transit. And the latter is the more urgent matter needing action for the sheer volume of people they can carry and therefore benefit.

Ortigas Avenue Extension Roadworks

Causing much traffic congestion the past weeks and especially these days are sections of Ortigas Avenue Extension. This is basically caused by roadworks between Cainta Junction and Valley Golf. The section between Brookside and Valley Golf is being raised. The section is a low portion of the road and is almost always flooded whenever there are heavy rains due also in part to the creek in the area. The westbound side of that section is completed and the contractor is now working on the eastbound side. The section is a wider segment of Ortigas and it’s possible to close one lane at a time while having 2 lanes usable for traffic along either side of the road.

The more severe congestion is along the westbound side where another contractor is working on drainage between Junction and Brookside. The section in front of the RRCG bus depot only has one lane usable by traffic and so westbound traffic is regularly backed up for hundreds of meters. How bad is it on a weekday? It took me 30 minutes to pass the area between 5:15 and 6:00 AM last Monday.

IMG11845-20150626-1806Eastbound traffic splits into two lanes separated by roadworks

IMG11846-20150626-1807The left lane is part of an already elevated westbound side of Ortigas Ave. Ext. The inner eastbound land has already been graded and ready for concrete pouring. The base course layer is visible in the photo.

IMG11847-20150626-1807Section near Hunters ROTC Road (right where the grey SUV is coming from) and STI, and approaching Valley Golf.

IMG11848-20150626-1807Past STI, the traffic lanes go back to normal just before the intersection at Valley Golf.

Traffic is so severe along Ortigas Ave. Ext. that I am sure a lot of people are looking for alternate routes. Those from Antipolo, Taytay and towns along the Manila East Road would likely take the routes utilizing the floodway including Highway 2000 and C-6. Others would find the longer route via Sumulong Highway and/or Marcos Highway to be worth the time and fuel. Hopefully, work will be continuous along Ortigas and roadworks will be completed before we are deep into the typhoon season this year.

San Diego’s Sta. Fe Train Depot

A highlight of my ‘do-it-yourself’ tour of San Diego, CA was the Sta. Fe Train Depot or Railway Station. The depot was celebrating is centennial and for me represented part of America’s railway heritage being part of a railway line stretching along the US’ Pacific coastline. Following are photos in and about the Sta. Fe depot.

IMG11067-20150506-1223The historic Sta. Fe Train Depot building as seen from the San Diego MTS trolley station.

IMG_9006Front of the train deport showing a fountain and the main doors to the station building.

IMG_9007Entrance to the building, which contains the ticket office and waiting room for passengers and well-wishers.

IMG_9008One is greeted by this splendid view of the building’s interior evoking a time when trains ruled in land transportation. An information booth is seen at the right while the food kiosk is at the left. The ticket windows are further at the center.

IMG_9009The kiosk inside the station building provides sustenance to passengers, well-wishers and passers-by. Note, too, the mosaic designs on the columns of the building.

IMG_9010A closer look at the station’s ceiling and chandeliers shown arches emanating from the columns to support the roof. Such features are of earthquake resistant structures in this earthquake-prone region and particularly in the State of California.

Pedicab, trolley and the Sta. Fe Train Depot

I took some refreshments at the kiosk in the station. The hotdog sandwich was good and the coffee was strong. I took the trolley from the station to explore San Diego along its commuter train lines. More on San Diego’s trains and stations in future posts.

 

Kilometer Zero

Kilometer Zero for the Philippines’ national road network is located at Rizal Park in Manila. Many people still think that this is designated at the flag pole in front of the Rizal monument at the park. The marker for kilometer zero is actually just across from the flagpole with an elegant kilometer post clearly showing it as KM 0.

2015-06-13 07.05.50The KM 0 post in front of the another monument on the Quirino Grandstand (west) side of Rizal Park. There are many other markers in the park other than those associated with Rizal and other heroes (e.g., Gomburza). There is also a bronze statue of St. Lorenzo Ruiz (the first Philippine saint) in the middle of the grounds across from the grandstand that was dedicated by Pope John Paul II to the Filipino people to celebrate the saint’s beatification in the early 1980s when John Paul II visited the Philippines for the first time.

2015-06-13 07.10.39Some people thought that the flagpole in front of the Rizal monument in Manila’s Rizal Park is the marker for kilometer zero. The flagpole is shown in the photo above with the Manila Hotel in the background.

2015-06-13 07.20.00The marker up close.

Some setbacks for sustainable transport

There have been a few setbacks for sustainable transport in the news recently and not so recently. One is the burning of an electric vehicle, a COMET to be precise, that saw one unit burn to the ground near the UP Town Center along Katipunan Avenue. I am not aware of any official or formal findings being released as to what really happened to the vehicle but that is basically a big PR problem now as detractors of e-vehicles will point to the incident as proof that e-vehicles still have a long way to becoming a viable and safe option as public utility vehicles. E-vehicles have a lot to prove especially as an option for public transport and such setbacks only strengthen the argument against them and leaves us with the current conventional options.

Another is the discontinuance of service inside the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) of hybrid buses operated by Green Frog Transport. This one is due to what Green Frog described as exorbitant fees being charged by Bonifacio Estates Services Corp (BESC) for their buses to enter BGC. This is making the rounds of social media but there seems to be no response from BESC nor from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which is supposed to also have a say with policies in BGC. Perhaps BESC thought it best to just give Green Frog the silent treatment for what appears as a trial by publicity approach by Green Frog. One commuter commented that maybe BGC authorities should push for their Fort Buses to be hybrid and phase out the jeepneys in favour of higher capacity transit inside BGC.

There have also been issue on road safety including many incidents of pedestrians getting run over by vehicles. Many of these have been captured on video particularly by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which has set-up a network of cameras in many intersections along major roads. Many show vehicles Given that many cases feature jaywalking, it is still the responsibility of any motorist to exercise caution when manoeuvring, especially when turning at intersections. Drivers will always have blind sides or weak sides when they manoeuvre so they should be very careful when in doubt and not immediately proceed when it is not clear that they have a clear path. At BGC (again) one will notice that many motorists do not give way to pedestrians even when the latter are crossing at the right locations and according to the sign clearing them to cross the street. In one case involving two speeding SUVs, one lost control and hit a pregnant woman crossing the street. While a significant number of vehicles in BGC are through traffic, it is still the responsibility of BGC’s traffic enforcers to ensure motorists follow traffic rules and regulations including prioritising safety over haste. Simply attributing such safety issues to through traffic is no excuse for traffic enforcement being as lax as or par with the rest of Metro Manila, especially for a CBD that packages itself as better than the rest of Metro Manila.

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