Caught (up) in traffic
August 2018
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Archives

Duty free shop expansion at NAIA Terminal 3

Here’s some lighter stuff after the heavy rains that inundated much of Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces. I was at NAIA Terminal 3 recently to fetch a friend arriving from Bacolod. I braved the rains and the potential flooding along my way to and from the airport as it was an early flight she was arriving on. I arrived early to discover the flight arrival was delayed so I decided to go around the terminal to see if there was something new. There was, and that’s the expansion of what was a small (compared to other international airports) duty free shop at NAIA’s largest of 4 terminals.

A peek at the expansion of the duty free shop at Terminal 3 shows people still working on the stocks and display for liquor/wines and cigarettes/tobacco.

Here’s a view from the Lacoste shop looking towards the corridor leading to/from the multi-level parking facility

The shop space now looks quite spacious though I’m not sure if it will attract as many people as other airports’ duty free shops as well as the larger Duty Free Philippines standalone store near Terminal 1. It is very convenient though for the usual p

Article on housing and transportation

Here’s another excellent piece from Todd Litman about the dynamics of housing and transportation. This is a very relevant topic in many cities today and especially so for those like Metro Manila, which is struggling with issues pertaining to affordable housing and transportation infrastructure and services. Arguably, a lot of households are spending more than the 45% threshold of incomes mentioned in the article but people continue to get homes away from the city as these are relatively cheaper than those closer to their workplaces and schools. Unfortunately, transportation costs are on the rise and congestion and a lack of an efficient transport system are among the culprits for what many have already labelled as undignified and atrocious costs of commuting.

Litman, T. (2018) “Affordability Trade-Offs,” planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/99920?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-08092018&mc_cid=e2a69b6eb4&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 8/9/2018]

I envy the guy for being able to present these topics clearly. It is a complex subject and one that isn’t understood by many in government who are supposed to be responsible for crafting and implementing policies and programs to address issues pertaining to affordable housing and commutes. I wonder if Todd is coming over for the ADB Transport Forum. He’s make for a good resource person in some of the sessions there and perhaps can also be invited to speak about this and other relevant and urgent topics in a separate forum. Anyone out there care to sponsor him?

On EDSA transport and traffic, again

There’s a recent decision by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) comprised of the mayors of the cities and municipality of Metro Manila and chaired by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair that vehicles bearing only one passenger (the driver) will be banned from travelling along EDSA. The problem with this is that by banning cars with one passenger from EDSA, you only succeed in making other roads like C5 more congested. It’s a simple case of transferring traffic and worsening it elsewhere since you’re not doing anything to alleviate congestion along those roads. Did MMDA run this and other scenarios using analytical or simulation tools at their disposal? If so, can these be shown and used to explain the soundness of this policy approved by the MMC? I suspect they didn’t and likely depended more on gut feel based on the data they have including what is often reported as 70% of vehicles traveling along EDSA having only one passenger. Meanwhile, the state of mass transit along EDSA still sucks.

IMG_3028A very crowded Boni Avenue Station platform (photo courtesy of Mr. Raul Vibal)

Of course, the pronouncement from the MMDA launched quite a lot of memes on social media. Some people shared the typical quotes on planning (you know, like the ones about planning for people vs. planning for cars). Some offered their own ideas about how to “solve” traffic along EDSA. And so on…that only succeeded in showing how everyone had an opinion about transport and traffic. Everyone is an expert, so it seems.

Some thoughts and not in any order:

  • The government can initially dedicate a lane each for express buses (a la Bus Rapid Transit or BRT). This idea has been circulating for quite some time now and has a good chance of succeeding. The DOTr is already deploying buses that they say are supplementing the MRT 3 trains (i.e., there aren’t enough trains running so passengers have the option of taking a bus instead). Running along the inner lanes of EDSA would mean, however, that they would have to find a way for passengers to cross the road and one idea would be for the stations to be retrofitted for this purpose.
  • Those cars along EDSA are not necessarily for short trips so walking and cycling while needing space may have less impact in the immediate term for such a corridor. In the meantime, serious consideration should be made for bike lanes whether on the ground or elevated and improvements to walking spaces.
  • But these efforts to improve passenger (and freight) flows should be a network-wide thing and not just along EDSA.
  • It’s time to have serious discussions and perhaps simulations (even a dry run) of congestion pricing in Metro Manila. Congestion pricing for all major roads and not just one or two. Funds collected goes to mass transit, walkways and bikeways development. DOTr was supposed to have already discussed an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system like Singapore’s with the company and people behind the same in the city-state. That doesn’t seem to be moving along.
  • Working and studying from home might work in terms of reducing vehicular traffic but then we generally have lousy internet services so that’s a barrier that needs to be broken down.
  • How about legalizing, once and for all, motorcycle taxis? Many are opposed to this citing safety concerns but then we are running out of options outside the usual motherhood statements pertaining to building transport infrastructure. Think about it. Give it a chance. These motorcycles might just surprise us in a nice way; that is, helping alleviate congestion.
  • Carpooling and lanes dedicated to High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) would be good but the LTFRB made a pronouncement about these being illegal as they would be considered ‘colorum’. Such statements do not make the situation any easier and sends mixed signals as to the government’s being serious in considering all possible angles to improve transport and traffic particularly for commuting.

Do you have other ideas to share?

On healthier cities and encouraging walking

It’s a Sunday and the sun is up after days of rain so it would be a good time to be outdoors. Here is a nice article for the fitness buffs out there. Many of us have sedentary lifestyles and this has come as no surprise with the how we work and study as well as the influence of tech in our everyday activities. Even as I write this, I am sitting in front of my desk and have only my fingers and hands working. The rest of me is inactive except perhaps my senses and my brain. 🙂

Merle, A. (2018) “The Healthiest People in the World Don’t Go to the Gym,” medium.com, https://medium.com/s/story/the-healthiest-people-in-the-world-dont-go-to-the-gym-d3eb6bb1e7d0 [Last accessed: 8/1/2018].

I miss the times when I was living in Japan and when we were living in Singapore mainly because I was able to have a more active lifestyle in the cities where I lived. I walked and biked a lot when I was in Yokohama, Tokyo and Saitama, and later walked a lot around Singapore. I/we didn’t need a car as the public transportation was excellent and so were the pedestrian infrastructure. I recall walking between our laboratory at Yokohama National University and the dormitory, and later the Sotetsu Line Kami-Hoshikawa Station almost everyday. And then climbing up and down the hills of Yamate on Sundays. I can walk around Tokyo on my own and finding my way through shopping streets especially in Akihabara and Ueno. Of course, my favourite places would always include Kamakura, which can be reached via a train ride from Yokohama Station. The wife and I loved walking around Singapore and exploring places on foot. Indeed, you can be healthy and have a workout everyday without being too conscious about it!

On immigration lines at NAIA Terminal 1 – again

Much has been said and written about the congestion at the immigration area at the Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. My most recent experience was a mix of good and bad as the lines were quite long prior to my departure for Bangkok.

A very crowded immigration area when I joined the line. Note how far I was to the immigration booths and the meandering arrangement to maximise the space for queued travellers. I reckon that it took me almost an hour to get to a booth. Perhaps the airport can place some signs indicating how much time is estimated for one in line to get to the front? I wrote about this back in 2014 and proposed something similar to what I saw at airports like Narita and Incheon.

 

Meanwhile, the lines were shorter and faster upon my arrival a week later as shown in the following photo:

Believe me these lines are shorter and faster moving. There were many immigration personnel the night of my arrival including an old friend from high school. Only, there were only 2 plane loads of passengers so it will definitely be worse during the peak hours when larger aircraft with more passengers arrive at the terminal.

 

It is a good thing that the airport is installing machines for express lanes soon. That will surely expedite processing for, at least, Filipinos returning from abroad. I think the departures would be quite tricky since there are many requirements particularly for workers leaving for their overseas assignments as well as government employees who require travel authority (TA) for them to travel abroad for whatever purpose. I think its Terminal 1 that is more notorious for the long queues as I didn’t have similar experience when using Terminals 2 or 3. Airport and immigration officials should exert more effort to ensure such congestion is minimised especially as the country targets more passenger traffic through its international airports.

Another look at Suvarnabhumi Airport – arrival, part 2

Here are more photos taken when I arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in early July.

Duty free shop at the baggage claim area

Exit through customs

Travelers and their companions meet-up right after passengers exit the arrival area

It can get quite crowded at some areas of the concourse especially near the airport/tourist information and the currency exchange booths where people usually congregate.

Another photo taken on my way to the escalators to get to the taxi stand at the lower level of the airport

Escalator to the lower level of the airport where one can get a taxi to the city centre.

A view of the ground level where there are seats for people waiting for arriving passengers or passengers biding their time before taking a taxi.

The area is much less crowded than the upper levels

Here is another photo showing the spacious area with few people.

Entry to the taxi stands – note the distinction among regular taxi (middle), large taxi (right)

Typical regular taxis at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The large taxis are generally AUVs.

Travelers are issued this ticket showing the lane where the taxi is parked, the name of the driver, car type and license plate number. You can also get a receipt from your driver upon arrival at destination and payment.

Another look at Suvarnabhumi Airport – arrival, part 1

Here are photos of Suvarnabhumi Airport upon my arrival in Bangkok earlier this month. Here’s the first set of photos taken upon my arrival at the international terminal.

Moving walkway/ Walkalator

Artwork along the way to immigrations

Directional signs are quite important for an airport of this size

More directions and a map

Another artwork

 Digital/electronic information board

Information board on aircraft arrivals and departures

Entry to the immigrations area where photographs and video are not allowed. I dare not be caught violating this rule in a foreign country.

Baggage claim area

Information on which carousel to go to pick-up your luggage are on this board. There are so many arrivals at the airport and so many carousels so its important to look it up for reference and direction.

More artwork, this time at the baggage claim area

Luggage going around on the carousel

Here are more artworks – I think this is a good idea to showcase the country’s artists at its main gateway. Perhaps Philippine airports should also make a similar effort? I recall Mactan Cebu International Airport featuring a local artist Boy Kiamko’s work at the terminal.