July 2015
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Transport research agenda

As promised, I am posting our research agenda from the last academic year. This has been revised every year since we established our undergraduate research program more than a decade ago. Back then, the document had been informal in the sense that it was not an official document that was submitted to the university for approval. Over the years, the agenda had been developed alongside that of the National Center for Transportation Studies and has evolved according to the current issues and concerns (including trending topics) in transportation.

A. Traffic Flow Theory and Analysis, and Traffic Engineering
1. Evaluation of Intersection Performance Considering Pedestrian Movement
2. Car-Following and Lane-Changing Models for Local Traffic Micro-simulators
3. Optimization of Traffic Signal Settings
4. Highway and Intersection Capacity and Level of Service

B. Highway Engineering
1. Local Pavement Design Practice
2. Coordination of Horizontal and Vertical Alignments

C. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
1. Advanced Traveller Information and Navigation
2. Advanced Public Transportation and Travel Information
3. Microscopic Traffic Simulation Modelling
4. Advanced Parking Management
5. Integrated Fare Collection for Public Transport
6. Probe Car System for Road Safety and Travel Time Assessment
7. Development of Devices/Sensors for In-Vehicle Air Quality Measurement
8. ITS Support for PWDs, Senior Citizens and Women
9. Smart City and PUV Connectivity for Fully Automated Driving: Internet of Vehicles (IoV)
10. Advanced Traffic Data Collection Tools and Methods

D. Transport Safety
1. Road Safety Audit
2. Road Crash Data Analysis and Management System
3. Road-Based Public Transport Safety
4. Philippine Air Transport Safety
5. Philippine Maritime Safety
6. Safety and Comfort Assessment of Public Utility Vehicles
7. Safety Assessment of Buses Equipped with GPS

E. Public Transport
1. Indigenous Modes of Transport
2. Public Transport Operation and Management
3. Public Transport Station/Stop and Terminals
4. Assessment of Mass Transport Options (e.g. BRT, AGT, AFV)
5. Multi-Modal Transfer Stations in Urban Areas

F. Mobility Management
1. Parking Management Systems
2. Traffic Calming
3. Bikeways Planning and Management
4. Pedestrian Facilities and Walkability
5. Assessment of Freight Vehicle Restraint Schemes

G. Transportation, Environment, Energy and Vehicle Technologies
1. Fuel and Energy Efficiency of Alternative Fuel Vehicles for Public Transport
2. Roadside Air Quality Assessment and Modelling
3. Roadside and Airport Noise Modelling
4. Utilization and Customization of GHG Emissions Estimation Tools for Assessment of Avoid-Shift-Improve Policies and Transport Infrastructure Projects
5. Customized Local Road Vehicles for Public Transport (jeepneys and tricycles)
6. Transport Energy Demand

Note from the above agenda that there are few items that are very specific. The above are not working titles for researches but very general topics that can be the basis for formulating specific topics for each student/group that will be working on that topic. Not indicated in the agenda are information on which faculty members are assigned to each topic. Faculty members have various specializations and have contributed items to the agenda. Students choosing a particular topic will be assigned to the faculty member who will be guiding the students towards proposal formulation and eventually, research implementation.

Research topics on transport and traffic in the Philippines?

I noticed that this site has received a lot of hits for inquiries regarding undergraduate research topics. While we at UP have yet to start our first semester of the academic year 2015-2016, other schools have already started their semesters, trimesters or quarterms. I suspect students in their final or graduating year would be looking for topics for their research projects or, what some schools refer to as the undergraduate thesis projects.

I have written about our undergraduate researches at UP Diliman the past few years and listed down the topics our students have implemented for their undergraduate projects. In our case, we have 2 subjects that our students take during their final year – CE 190, a one unit course that focuses on the formulation and approval of the research project and CE 199, a three unit course for the implementation of the approved project. These are taken over 2 semesters, usually the last 2 that the student takes before graduating.

Unfortunately, not all schools would have the capability and capacity to advise students taking on topics on transport and traffic. I noticed that many schools and their advisers just let their students select topics of their own choice. Many provide minimal if any guidance to students. The latter often choose topics on current issues or problems without checking if they have the knowledge and tools to undertake substantive studies. Often too, it seems to us that the advisers are not capable of providing guidance to their own students and as such just let them seek advise elsewhere including people they would identify as resource persons but to whom they would be more dependent on for advice than their schools’ faculty members. Although their enthusiasm and interest in various topics are commendable and there are many out there who would be gracious and generous to share their time, knowledge and experience with these students, they cannot do so as regularly as full-time faculty members. In fact, it is unfair to these people whose times and resources are already constrained by their own responsibilities (e.g., a professor at DLSU also has his own students to guide and classes to teach).

Schools need to develop their own research agendas. That is so that students would be able to  These would include topics concerning local issues. Are there road safety issues at locations such as intersections near the school? Are the streets in the nearby CBD experiencing congestion? Is there an oversupply or lack of public transport services in the city or a nearby town? It seems awkward for a university in Pampanga, for example, to have students taking on a topic concerning EDSA-MRT or students of a university in Metro Manila taking on railways in Mindanao, if their faculty have no relevant experiences or capabilities to properly guide the students.

I would encourage schools to identify topics concerning local issues first. As they say, charity begins at home, and working on solutions for local problems should be top of the agenda of any school. That includes us at UP and there are many topics that focus on issues within and around UP Diliman. If we can’t solve our own problems then how can we be believable in addressing those outside our direct influence area?

In the next post, I will share and example research agenda from the last academic year. This was the basis for our students selecting topics for their undergraduate researches and as starting points for our graduate students in formulating topics for their MS thesis.

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.

 

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