Caught (up) in traffic
April 2018
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Amsterdam Schipol Airport railway station

My recent trip to Europe had me traveling from my entry point at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport to Enschede in Twente. I took the Intercity train to my destination city but not before taking photos around Schipol Airport and its underground train station.

This was my first look at the train station at Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Directional signs for arriving passengers

Ticket counters for various destinations from Schipol – one can purchase tickets for domestic or international destinations at the airport, which is a major gateway for Europe.

Cafes and shops at Schipol

Passengers checking their documents or verifying directions

Information booth at the airport

Travelers at Schipol airport

At the platform

Passengers boarding or waiting at the platform of Schipol station

Double decker car of an Intercity train headed for Venlo

My Intercity train ticket to Enschede

Back of the ticket

I like these clocks at railway stations and airports. They give me an opportunity to synchronise my watch with the clocks and the time at the country and city where I am at.

Incomplete rationalisation of public transport?

The current initiative to rationalise road public transport services is not as comprehensive as necessary or as some people want us to believe. The drive appears to be mainly on (some say against) jeepneys while little has been done on buses and UV Express vehicles. Most notable among the modes not covered by rationalisation are the tricycles.

A smoke-belching tricycle along Daang Bakal in Antipolo City

What really should be the role and place of tricycles in the scheme of themes in public transportation? Are they supposed to provide “last mile” services along with walking and pedicabs (non-motorised 3-wheelers)? Or are they supposed to be another mode competing with jeepneys, buses and vans over distances longer than what they are supposed to be covering? It seems that the convenient excuse for not dealing with them is that tricycles are supposed to be under local governments. That should not be the case and I believe national agencies such as the DOTr and LTFRB should assert their authority but (of course) in close cooperation with LGUs to include tricycles in the rationalisation activities. Only then can we have a more complete rationalisation of transport services for the benefit of everyone.

SimCity-like tool for impact analysis?

There’s this nice article about a tool for transport/traffic impact assessment (TIA):

Peters, A. (2018) This SimCity-like tool lets urban planners see the potential impact of their ideas, http://www.fastcompany.com, https://www.fastcompany.com/40548501/this-sim-city-like-tool-lets-urban-planners-the-potential-impact-of-their-ideas [Last accessed: 4/12/2018]

I played SimCity before with the early versions of the game. My friends and I thought it had the potential as a tool for transport planning given the visuals and the features for building cities out of scratch. We even tried out some concepts like transit oriented development (TOD) to see how these can be “simulated” in the game. With other tools like Google Earth and Street View, it is possible to create new tools or apps for rapid determination of impact areas. The immediate or primary impact areas of developments are spelled out in the guidelines published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) so these can be incorporated in a tool or app. This can be a good project for development and application locally. Perhaps this can be developed for use by local governments and practitioners preparing TIAs.

Trams of Den Haag

Going around The Hague was no hassle. There were a lot less people there compared to Amsterdam last Easter Sunday. I felt more relaxed moving around. I also like it that I had transit options in the form of trams and buses to get from one place to somewhere walking seemed to be the less efficient mode to take. Not so many people were on bicycles but that’s probably because it was a Sunday and most bike traffic were for work or school trips? Here are some photos of trams at The Hague (Den Haag).

Saw this tram as we went around some of the attractions in the city.

We rode this one going to the beach.

I rode this tram going back to Den Haag Central Station

Transit network map at Frankenslag stop

Tram schedule posted at the stop

Our friends’ neighbourhood was a really nice one and I liked it that it is accessible to both tram and bus. The walks are short but you can easily get some exercise by getting off at an earlier stop or perhaps walking to a further one. The clear walking paths are definitely a plus and the environment is one conducive for such activities as well as for saying ‘hello’ to other people.

Transfer at Dubai International Airport

Arriving at Dubai en route to The Netherlands, we deplaned to be transported by bus to the airport terminal. Those of us bound for Europe boarded a different bus that took us to the terminal for what I assumed were for Europe-bound flights. This was good as we didn’t have to figure out the maze that was Dubai airport including passing through security and figuring out how to go to our designated boarding gate. Following are photos I took at Terminal A.

Upon arrival at the terminal we proceeded towards the security clearance prior to our transfer gate.

Information on the boarding gates were already posted when we arrived. The airline already issued my boarding pass for the Dubai-Amsterdam leg of my travel but it didn’t have info on the boarding gate yet.There were directional signs including those for people transferring to another terminal/wing using the transporter.

Many friends have said that Dubai airport is practically a mall. My first look and impression was that it is with all the shopping options there.

I decided to walk around first in order to have some exercise after the 8-hour flight from Manila. More shops and cafes greeted me everywhere I turned. It was quite tempting to go shopping but for a personal rule I have to never shop when just beginning a trip.

It was early morning (4:30 AM Dubai time) when we arrived at the terminal so there were still few people around.

One thing I regretted later was not purchasing a model airplane (I collect these.) from the Emirates show near our gate. I thought I would have enough time to do so upon my return. 

This was our boarding gate at about 5:00 AM. Notice it was still dark outside.

This is the area near our boarding gate, which turned out to be a pre-departure area of sorts. Notice that there were already a lot of passengers at the time I took the photo (7:00 AM). That was understandable as we were to board an A380 to Schipol.

Here is our plane docked at the airport.

After we cleared the gate, we ended up at another lounge prior to boarding the plane. Its good though that the airline staff were able to manage the boarding sequence well and most passengers followed instructions. That was not to be on the trip back.

On inflight meals again: Emirates

I decided to take Emirates for my recent trip to The Netherlands as I opted to have a stopover in Dubai to have some recovery time. Travel time between Manila and Dubai took about 8 hours and between Dubai and Amsterdam about 7 hours. I thought (and friends have also told me) that this was better than having a very long flight where you’re practically confined to the aircraft. I have also been informed that the inflight meals on Emirates were better than most airlines even on economy. I must agree with that observation and I’m now posting some of the “stolen” shots I took of the inflight meals.

Breakfast served on the Manila-Dubai leg of my trip

Breakfast on the Dubai-Amsterdam leg of my trip

Menu on the Dubai-Amsterdam leg of my trip

The lunch selection was okay and I always thought that one doesn’t have to gobble up everything served to you inflight. Eat and drink just enough so you won’t feel hungry or thirsty on a long flight. Check out the food if the taste suits you. If you don’t feel eating or it doesn’t taste right to you then perhaps you should pass or opt for some light snacks.

I refrained from taking photos of my meals back to Manila but they were again alright compared to most inflight meals I’ve had. I guess the better ones I’ve had would be on my long haul flights to the US with Japan Airlines (JAL). Of course, I am sure other people would have other opinions about inflight meals including those who categorically state these are unhealthy. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but keep it to yourself and don’t even try posting it here. 🙂

On the negative social impacts of ridesharing/ridesourcing

I have shared a few articles before about the impacts of ridesharing/ridesourcing to taxi drivers. In the Philippines, taxis where ridesharing/ridesourcing services are available are plenty are supposed to have experienced a significant drop in their business. Yet, there has been little improvement in taxi services in Metro Manila. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have not put pressure on taxis to improve so operators and drivers are pretty much the same in terms of practices and service quality. Here is a recent article that appeared on Wired about New York taxi drivers:

Katz, M. (2018) “Why are New York taxi drivers killing themselves?”, wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/why-are-new-york-taxi-drivers-committing-suicide/?CNDID=37243643&mbid=nl_032918_daily_list1_p4 (Last accessed 3/30/2018).

Admittedly, the set-up for New York taxis is quite different from those in the Philippines. The medallions referred to in the article are limited and carries with it prestige and perhaps honour, considering the commitment and pride attached to them. Franchises in the Philippines are quite different and drivers will usually work for multiple operators/employers. Those who own their taxis are not so many and can be flexible in the way they conduct their business. Perhaps a significant number of drivers have even left the taxi business and now drive for TNCs like Grab and Uber.

With Uber’s sale of their business in Southeast Asia to main rival Grab, it seems now that there is suddenly and practically a monopoly of the ridesharing/ridesourcing business. Upstarts have not had a significant share of the market and by all indications will not get a bigger share in the near future. I still think that there should be pressure for taxi services to be improved and a good chance for people to shift back to taxis. But this requires effort on both sides (regulator and operator). I still mention examples of taxi operators in Cebu and Iloilo who appear to be unscathed by the entry of ridesharing/ridesourcing in those cities. Good quality taxi services will promote itself and will be patronised by commuters.