There have been too many articles hyping a proposed transport system at UP Diliman. What seems like a DOST media blitz started with an article posted by Malaya Business Insight online that announced a project developing what was allegedly a train that’s the first of its kind in the world:
- FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD; Trains to run on rubber tires [Malaya, June 18, 2012]
The article was inaccurate in many ways including the fact that there are already many such vehicles operating in public transport systems around the world including our ASEAN neighbors. Articulated buses can be seen regularly along the streets of Singapore and there are Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines in Jakarta and Bangkok. There are others in South America, most notably in Curitiba and Bogota. In fact, Cebu City is on the way to realizing the first BRT system in the Philippines with an FS already underway (Note: one can search the internet on articles and official statements on this project). Rubber-tired trains are not new, there are even automated or driver-less systems that have been operating in Japan, Europe and North America for quite some time now. Those who have been to Tokyo probably have ridden the Yurikamome. Among these are the following:
- DOST automated rail transport is back on track [People's Television, June 19, 2012]
- Automated Transport System To Be Tested At Diliman Campus–DoST [Manila Bulletin, June 20, 2012]
- UP monorail project still on track-DoST [Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 21, 2012]
First things first. The prototype vehicle to be developed and tested will be an AGT and NOT a monorail. These two were proposed and discussions among DOST and UPD led to the decision to develop an AGT rather than a monorail. To support the project, a test track had initially been built on the DOST grounds as a “proof of concept” exercise. The “success” of the exercise apparently led to the decision to move forward and pursue full scale development and testing of a system. Thus, after several discussions with the UP System and UP Diliman a test track will be constructed in UP Diliman.
The test track will not be a fully functional system for commuting although the location will be conspicuous enough for those interested in the project. The alignment was also decided based on the potential for a full system to be built should it be found to be feasible. By feasibility, this meant that the environmental and financial impacts of such a system for the campus will have to be evaluated. In fact, one of the biggest questions that has still to be answered is who will pay for such a full system and whether it can sustain itself given the limited ridership in the area coupled with the limited supply the system can provide.
The test track will be constructed at the lot bounded by the University Ave in the north, C.P. Garcia Ave. in the west, Jacinto St. in the east, and the UP College of Fine Arts (CFA) and Campus Maintenance Office (CMO) in the south. This location is shown below:
One idea already put forward before was the possibility of a full system being constructed along C.P. Garcia Ave., effectively connecting Commonwealth Ave. (at Philcoa) and Katipunan Ave. (near the National Institute of Physics). Such a system might be viable but it has to be two-way and with a fleet of vehicles to support the demand along the corridor. Perhaps stations along this line may be located at Philcoa, National Computer Center (between CHED and Phivolcs), the old Stud Farm, College of Engineering Complex (near the junction to the Hardin ng Rosas residential areas), and NIP (perhaps across it at the lot near the technology incubator?).