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Yearly Archives: 2011
After writing a lot about highways and streets and railways (particularly on the PNR, its history and a few what if’s) I think its high time that I also write something about other modes of transport. Much has been abuzz about the state of our main international airport, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Terminal 1 is already too crowded and with toilets already quite notorious for their being dirty and stinky. Terminal 2, despite being used only by one airline – Philippine Airlines, is also becoming too crowded already being unable to handle both domestic and international flights during the peak periods. It is also being dragged into the mess that PAL is currently wading through. Terminal 3 is predominantly being used by Cebu Pacific, already the country’s largest airline despite being a budget outfit. It is supposed to handle international flights for NAIA and yet because of the still unresolved issues surrounding its construction, most international flights are still serviced by Terminal 1. Perhaps the largest and the most friendly for passengers and well-wishers, it has a serious parking problem (covered parking anyone?) and many of its features are not operational (e.g., moving walkways, air bridges, baggage handling, etc.).
But rather than feature the older, less attractive airports for my first post on these facilities, I will start with what we should have more of. There are already several airports that have been constructed/ transferred and/or upgraded in the past few years around the country that are worth mentioning. Among these is the New Bacolod-Silay Airport that is located in Silay City, north-northeast of Bacolod City. The following photos were taken by colleagues at the Institute of Civil Engineering and the National Center for Transportation Studies of UP Diliman back in 2008 when the airport just began operations. It is a very significant upgrade from the old Bacolod Airport that was already too crowded and could not handle both passengers and aircraft projected for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.
The airport terminal as viewed from the parking area – parking is spacious and sufficient for many years to come given the current and projected passenger demand. The airport is the second (after Iloilo) “airport of international standard” completed during the previous dispensation.
Escalator to the departure lounge – departing passengers are handled on the ground floor but have to transfer to the upper floor for the departure area. They board the plane through the air bridges that provide the connection between the terminal and the planes. Arriving passengers also use the air bridges but descend to the ground level for departure procedures including baggage claims.
The departure lounge at the airport is spacious and clean. The comfort rooms, my colleagues say from more recent trips, are still sparkling clean and well-maintained.
Another concessionaire in the airport gives passengers an alternative to other shops offering snacks or full meals. The prices, I am told, are pretty reasonable considering they operate in the airport. Often, items sold in airports are criticized for being expensive (presyong turista), something that needs to be addressed, too, in the interest of travelers.
Pasalubong center at the airport – Filipinos and travelers from other countries like to buy gifts or souvenirs to take home with them to give family and friends a taste of what they experienced in their trips. In Japan, this is called omiyage and is usually something that one can buy only from the place that you went to. There are many such items all around the country and for Bacolod/Negros Occidental, these include piaya, barquillos and napoleones.
Air bridge – provides access to and from the terminal building to the plane on the tarmac. This is level with the aircraft’s doors and eliminates the need for ladders often employed in other airports (usually domestic).
View from the departing plane – this is perhaps what the traveler will see first when his/her plane taxis towards to the terminal. It will also be what one would see as the plane taxis away to prepare for departure.
They say first impressions last and from the looks of the airport once you arrive in a certain place, you can already make some conclusions as to what the place might be in general terms. My colleagues are very impressed with Bacolod and its airport makes a statement to this effect. It is a very nice place to visit. It is clean and modern. Perhaps such simple observations or perceptions are what we should strive for in the case of NAIA’s terminals. It doesn’t really require so much to impress people. And clean toilets, and honest, efficient and reliable staff probably doesn’t require billions of pesos to realize.
One of the great “what if’s” for public transportation in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas pertains to rail transport that were operated in the Cavite and Rizal provinces prior to the Second World War. The present-day developments along what were railway corridors attest to the viability of these areas for development and it can be argued that rail transport services here could have been a game-changer in as far as public transport is concerned and may have significantly influenced travel preferences and behavior in these areas. These would not be light-rail but heavy-rail services and would certainly have had higher passenger capacities.
Close-up for railway lines from the figure in a previous blog
An even better close-up is provided in the following figure that shows three lines that could have shaped developments to the east and southwest of Metro Manila. These are the Cavite Line, the Marikina Line and the Antipolo Line.
Close-up for Cavite, Marikina and Antipolo Lines of the Manila Railroad Company
Following are the breakdown of stations for the three lines:
- The Cavite Line stretched from Manila through Paco, Paranaque, Bacoord, Noveleta until Naic in Cavite Province for a total of 44 km. Completed in 1908, it was abandoned in 1936.
- The Marikina Line started from Rosario (presently in Pasig and along an area still called Tramo) to Montalban via Marikina (where there is still a Daang Bakal) and San Mateo for a total of 31 km. Completed in 1907 (until Marikina in 1906), the entire line was abandoned in 1936.
- The Antipolo Line started from Manila and passed through Sta. Mesa, Pasig (likely somewhere in what is presently Bagong Ilog), Rosario, Taytay (through present day Cainta) and until Antipolo (near Hinulugang Taktak where there is still a Daang Bakal). Completed in 1908, the line was abandoned in 1917. The alignment from Cainta and Taytay crossed what is now Ortigas Ave. Extension at the Valley Golf gate and stretched along an alignment that appears to have the gentlest slope for a climb to Antipolo.
Clearly, if these lines were not abandoned but instead retained and developed even after World War 2, commuting preferences and behavior in Metro Manila could have been quite different. In fact, people could have chosen to travel by train instead of being dependent on cars. For those residing or working in the south (i.e., Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, towns of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas) maybe people would have a viable alternative to the tollways in those areas. Note that the only operating rail transport in the area is the PNR Commuter Line that is currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Hopefully, its rehabilitation is completed and more passengers patronize the service.
Rizal is presently not served by any railway until perhaps LRT Line 2 is finally extended towards Antipolo via the Marcos Highway corridor. The Marikina-San Mateo- Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) areas are accessible via national roads that are often congested primarily due to paratransit traffic. The more progressive towns of Rizal (Cainta, Taytay, Binangonan and Angono) as well as its capital city of Antipolo is accessible mainly via either Ortigas Avenue or Marcos Highway. Both highways are already quite congested and road widening options are quite limited especially for the heavily traveled Ortigas Ave. One can only imagine now how a rail system could have addressed the travel demand along these corridors and perhaps enhanced the quality of living in these areas.
On my way to the dentist last weekend, I encountered more roadworks during my drive. This time, it was along Angel Tuazon Ave. stretching from Marcos Highway to Sumulong Highway. Due to the rains the past few days, work seems to have been suspended and I saw no one doing anything along the work site.
Concrete pavement re-blocking site along A. Tuazon Ave. – this road frequently goes under water during intense rainfalls brought about by typhoons. Being a truck route also contributes to the road being damaged.
Roadworks along the approach to the junction with Sumulong Highway – one lane of the opposing direction is generally used by left-turning traffic along the northbound side under a countet-flow scheme. I can imagine this causes significant congestion along other legs of the intersection as only one lane is available for the southbound direction, limiting intersection capacity.
Good luck to people passing these areas this week. May you have more patience as you travel.
Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City has claimed a lot of lives and injured a many more people over the past years particularly due to aggressive and often reckless driving or riding by motorists using the road. Especially dangerous is the section stretching from the flyover to the U-turn slot just after Ateneo’s Gate 2 since many vehicles tend to (over)speed from the wide overpass and unto the section fronting Ateneo De Manila University. On the other side of the road, motorists also tend to speed up towards the overpass, unmindful of vehicles shifting from the outer lanes of the road towards the U-turn slot. In many cases, some vehicles cross from the establishments along Katipunan towards the U-turn slot. These conditions significantly increase the likelihood of occurrence of road crashes.
This morning, I noticed during my drive to UP that the concrete barriers of the U-turn slot along Katipunan northbound were again witnesses to another crash. The driver was most likely speeding if not flying from the overpass and miscalculated on his/her maneuver upon discovering the barriers along his/her path as he/she descended the overpass. It was more especially dangerous this morning as I can imagine the pavement conditions as well as the visibility given the heavy rains pouring around Metro Manila since last night. I took a quick photo of the damaged vehicle just when a truck was maneuvering in preparation to towing the vehicle.
Honda City with damaged front bumper – the vehicle hit one of the concrete barriers of the U-turn slot with a trajectory indicating it apparently came from the direction of the overpass. After passing the vehicle, I saw that the left front wheel is already missing and apparently destroyed when the car hit the barrier. The damage to the car indicated tremendous impact and I just hope the driver and other occupants (if any) were wearing their seatbelts when the car hit the barrier. It would have helped also if the car had airbags. These safety devices are not standard issue in many if not most vehicles in the Philippines allowing dealers to make airbags optional and giving the buyer the false perception of getting the vehicle with a cheaper price.
When will motorists learn from such incidents? When and how will the MMDA or whoever is in-charge finally, effectively and decisively address this issue? Is it simply a case of speeding and something that can be addressed by enforcing speed limits? Or does the infrastructure and layout encourage such behavior among motorists? Perhaps we should rethink how we design and place U-turn slots and the barriers we use in the scheme. Otherwise, we will just see the same scene happening all over again at the cost of more lives and limbs.
A good example of providing for pedestrian access for development is the walkway connecting LRT Line 2’s Santolan Station with SM City Marikina. Of course there’s an even better example in Makati City where the walkways at the Ayala CBD connect office buildings and the commercial center comprising Greenbelt and Glorietta. That system of walkways is probably the first of its kind in the country and has not been replicated elsewhere, at least as far as I know. The significance of the walkway that practically connects to points in two cities (SM is in Marikina while the LRT station is in Pasig) is that it is a good example of a facility that provides access to a transit station. Not too long ago and before Typhoon Ketsana laid waste to the area beneath the bridge and overpass, there was even a proposal for a public transport terminal to be developed here. If this was realized, then the area would have been a very busy hub similar to Crossing or Market!Market! but maybe not at the level of Cubao.
The walkway provides a perfect position for observing traffic along the bridge. This is probably an ideal location for a station for conducting screenline traffic counts for Metro Manila. The driveway on the left side of the photo is for public transport loading and unloading bays commonly used by jeepneys bound for the towns of Rizal Province.
Another view from the walkway with a good perspective of the underpass connecting to a bridge to C5. Visible from this position is the area under the bridge that was proposed to be an eastern bus terminal during a previous dispensation at the MMDA.
The long walk to the MRT station – from this perspective, it seems the walkway connects directly and almost level with the station platform. It is not at all connected directly with the station. Instead, one has to walk towards the end of this path and then down the stairs that end at the sidewalk near the PUV loading/unloading area. To get to the station, one has to walk some more. The posts appear to be provisions for the installation of a roof over the walkway to shield people from the elements.
That’s the branch of the bridge emanating from C5 via the Riverbanks Road that was constructed on land expropriated from Camp Atienza, headquarters of the 51st Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army. The curved section carries traffic from C5 that feeds into eastbound lanes of Marcos Highway.
Quezon City’s Commonwealth Avenue extends from its junction with the Elliptical Road (Quezon Memorial Circle) up to gate of Jordan Plaines Subdivision in Novaliches. Often labeled as a killer highway due to the frequent road crashes that have resulted in many deaths, it is perhaps the widest road in all of the Philippines, having 10 lanes per direction at its widest sections in the Diliman area. The avenue is still far from completion as the stretch from Jordan Plaines to Quirino Highway has taken quite sometime for construction. I took the following photos of the area last weekend to illustrate the situation.
Counterflow scheme a block away from the Jordan Plaines gate due to excavations and the civil works on a short bridge over a creek. Two weeks ago the counterflow scheme was implemented along the northbound side of the avenue.
Only a few people were working on the Sunday I passed by the area.While there are signs and a few barriers, the work area presented a lot of hazards to both motorists and pedestrians. It was a bit dry last Sunday due to the sunny weather but I can imagine the mud from the work site should rains fall in the area.
Connecting Commonwealth Avenue with Quirino Avenue will surely improve circulation in the area and would probably ease congestion in the Novaliches bayan area. Maybe there will even be an adjustment of some public transport routes once Commonwealth and Quirino are connected. The extension of the avenue is long overdue and a much delayed project considering that there are already developments along the right of way including a residential project by the Quezon City government. The completion of the avenue will perhaps also have a significant impact on land values in Novaliches.
I tried following the motorcycle lanes along Commonwealth Avenue one weekend to see if the MMDA has been able to mark the designated lane (4th lane from the roadside) throughout the entire stretch of the highway. I was optimistic considering all the hype about the lanes but still crossed my fingers given past experiences on such schemes’ implementation in Metro Manila and other Philippine cities. I wasn’t happy with what I saw while traveling along Commonwealth, particularly at points where public utility vehicles stop to drop-off or pick-up passengers. In a previous post, I already explained that where buses, jeepneys and AUVs tend to congregate, they occupy several lanes and effectively block through traffic. Among the lanes occupied are the ones designated for motorcycles. In all my observations, traffic enforcers seem always helpless and inutile against errant motorists occupying the motorcycle lane and posing danger through their maneuvers.
Following are a few photos I took along Commonwealth to “survey” the motorcycle lanes.
Motorcycle lane along section in vicinity of Diliman Prep School – the lane is identifiable by the alternating blue and white lines, as well as the sign (“Motorsiklo”) on the overpass. While motorcycles are required to use only this lane while traversing the highway, other vehicles like the taxi shown in the photo are allowed use of the lane. I believe this is something that should be discouraged as they create situations where there is a high probability of crashes occurring.
The lane disappears after the St. Peter church and there are no markings or signs that would help guide motorcyclists to stay on the lane and perhaps also guide other motorists as well against using the lane. Many motorists, especially private vehicles, seem to respect the “blue lane,” usually and consciously leaving this lane for motorcyclists. We need more of that respect and much of courtesy in our streets and highways!
Section past Sandiganbayan and approaching the Commonwealth and Fairview Markets – while some motorcycle riders can be observed as trying hard to follow the scheme, there are no markings to help guide them nor are there signs on the overpasses along the rest of the way. Perhaps the MMDA and the DPWH have not yet painted the markings or installed the signs along these sections? But then perhaps the implementation of the scheme is premature considering the lack of pertinent signs and markings?
A bit of mayhem along Commonwealth and Fairview Markets – buses and jeepneys are practically everywhere here and occupy around 4 lanes as they load/unload passengers at this very crowded area. Motorcycle riders understandably veer away from the outer lanes of Commonwealth
Section past the new rotonda along Commonwealth just before the overpass across the new Puregold branch – the highway was widened along this stretch and narrows to 3 lanes per direction after the overpass. There are no pavement markings yet for the newly added lanes and most of those for the previous lanes are already faded.
The formulation and implementation of motorcycle lanes along Commonwealth (and Macapagal Boulevard) are based on very good intentions (i.e., to reduce the incidence of road crashes involving motorcycles). However, the absence of pavement markings and signs to guide motorists and especially motorcyclists send the wrong signals in as far as enforcement is concerned. Add to this the serious matter of traffic management along PUV loading/unloading areas that is required to ensure that PUVs will not occupy motorcycle lanes and forcing riders to take to other lanes, thereby coming into conflict with private vehicle traveling along the inner lanes. These two issues clearly need to be addressed and fast so that the scheme can be effectively implemented throughout the entire length of Commonwealth Avenue.
The current situation pertaining to the implementation of motorcycle lanes in Metro Manila is perhaps another case where the agency implementing the scheme again “bit off more than it could chew.” As in the case of the 60 kph speed limit, effective enforcement throughout Commonwealth is limited by the availability and deployment of speed measurement equipment. As such, many vehicle still exceed 60 kph at sections where there obviously are no speed guns or radars. These situations and conditions are highly likely to lead ultimately to a ningas cogon outcome for such traffic management schemes. Such is undesirable since motorists will only become jaded (if they are not yet at this point) about traffic management in Metro Manila and elsewhere. And yet there are already indications that, like the PUV lanes, the MMDA would eventually slack on the enforcement side after realizing it needs to employ and deploy much more trained/skilled enforcers to implement all these schemes at the same time.
Days before the long weekend break for the days commemorating All Saints and All Souls (Undas), I was surprised to experience severe congestion during the evenings that I drive to my home in Antipolo. To me it was quite unusual knowing from experience that traffic should be lighter considering most schools were already on semestral break and, closer to the weekend, many people would have already gone on vacation leave to return to their hometowns. I took a couple of photos of the progress of civil works as I drove, quite slowly, to my parents’ home at a subdivision along Imelda Ave. I wanted to take more photos but there was a sudden rainfall that obscured vision over my windshield and it became dangerous to take chance photos while driving in the rain.
Water and road works at the junction of Imelda Ave. with the Sta. Lucia access road – the activity area effectively occupies a full lane of southbound direction of Imelda Ave. This has resulted in significant reduction in the capacity of the highway, and leads to sever congestion during the afternoon to evening peak periods. During these times, a very high volume of traffic including large trucks pass through the avenue from Marcos Highway and the resulting queues spill over and block traffic at the junction with Marco Highway. At its worst, the congestion extends towards Amang Rodriguez (Ligaya).
Single lane available to southbound (to Cainta Junction) traffic – all vehicles had to use one lane due to civil works being undertaken along the lane shown in the photo. New water pipes were laid down under the lane to increase capacity for the increasingly growing populations of the progressive towns of Rizal Province.
From the looks of the progress of work I’ve seen personally this weekend, I guess we can expect the congestion to start easing from the latter part of this week. The contractor tried to ease southbound traffic by employing a counter-flow scheme using one lane on the northbound side but the result was not as successful as the contractors desired as congestion quickly set in along this direction causing more misery to travelers along Imelda Ave. Apparently, the contractor underestimated the traffic along the avenue.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
MEMORANDUM ORDER NO. 25
RECONSTITUTING THE INTER-AGENCY TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT PLANNING (IATCTP)
WHEREAS, transportation infrastructure has the biggest share in the country’s infrastructure investment program and will continue to be among the critical drivers of the country’s economic growth;
WHEREAS, a number of government agencies are involved in transport planning activities within their respective areas of jurisdiction;
WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is the primary policy, planning, programming, coordinating, implementing, regulating and administrative entity of the government in the promotion, development and regulation of dependable and coordinated transportation network in the country;
WHEREAS, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is the lead agency for the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the national road network, which continues to dominate the country’s transport system;
WHEREAS, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is mandated to facilitate the implementation of an integrated program for the planning, development, financing, operation and maintenance of ports or port districts in the country;
WHEREAS, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is tasked to integrate the development, promotion and regulation of the maritime industry in the country;
WHEREAS, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is the first instrumentality of the government mandated to provide railway system and services within the integrated national transport system;
WHEREAS, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 603, is responsible for the construction, operation, maintenance and/or lease of light rail transit systems in the country, which are recommended and envisioned to alleviate traffic and transportation situation in a congested metropolitan area within the context of rational land use planning;
WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is tasked, among others, to coordinate development planning, transportation and traffic management, urban renewal and land use planning, urban protection, pollution control and public safety in Metro Manila which is the country’s premier economic and financial capital;
WHEREAS, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), created on 04 March 2008 by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 9497, is mandated to be the technical regulator of air transport;
WHEREAS, the University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies (UP-NCTS) aims to, among others, conduct research activities on transportation, provide extension services to various government agencies and the private sector, and provide information services on transportation; and,
WHEREAS, transportation affects the country’s economic development and therefore there is a need to effectively coordinate its planning and policy formulation process led by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in order to achieve the objectives of sustainable economic growth in the country.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, the IATCTP is hereby reconstituted in view of the important roles of the other transport agencies in achieving a comprehensive and integrated coordination function in transport planning. The Committee shall now be composed of the following:
|Deputy Director-General, NEDA-National Development Office||– Chairperson|
|Assistant Director-General, NEDA-National Development Office||– Member|
|Director, NEDA-Infrastructure Staff||– Member|
|Director, NEDA-National Planning and Policy Staff||– Member|
|Director, NEDA-Project Monitoring Staff||– Member|
|Director, UP-NCTS||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, DOTC||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, DPWH||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, PPA||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, MARINA||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, PNR||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, LRTA||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, MMDA||– Member|
|Head of Planning Service/Unit, CAAP||– Member|
The Committee shall continue to perform the following duties and functions:
a. Formulate and recommend to the NEDA Board Committee on Infrastructure (INFRACOM) comprehensive and integrated transport plans;
b. Formulate standards and guidelines for the preparation of agency plans for transport development;
c. Develop a transport information system that shall serve the information needs of all transport planning and other relevant agencies;
d. Coordinate the conduct of studies, researches and data-gathering on various aspects of the transport sector;
e. Formulate areas of cooperation and coordination among the various agencies and instrumentalities of the government involved in transport programs and projects to avoid duplication of efforts;
f. Provide the NEDA Board with up-to-date information needed in the review and evaluation of transport plans and projects; and
g. Serve as a forum for the resolution of operational problems of transport agencies.
The Committee shall submit to the NEDA Board INFRACOM any issues/concerns that require adoption/resolution by the latter.
The Committee shall meet for the purpose of discharging its functions and may create sub-committees as may be necessary. Other relevant transport agencies and organizations may also be invited to attend meetings when warranted.
The NEDA Infrastructure Staff shall provide secretariat services to the Committee.
All heads of departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities of the government are hereby requested to extend full cooperation and assistance to the Committee to ensure the successful execution of its tasks.
This Memorandum Order (MO) shall take effect immediately and shall supersede MO 473 (1974).
DONE, in the City of Manila, this 26th day of October in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven.
(Sgd.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
By the President:
(Sgd.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.
Following are a few more photos from a trip to Naga City back in 2009. These photos take off from a previous posting where I featured the tracks of the PNR’s Main Line South, mainly what a traveler may see along the national highway en route to Naga City. Many of these tracks were not being used by any trains at the time due to a suspension of services after an incident a few years back when a Bicol Express train was derailed somewhere in Quezon. Most of the tracks one will see here have already been rehabilitated as the PNR has resumed the service between Manila and Naga City. In fact, they have taken advantage of the long weekend for All Saints’ Day (Undas) to promote the Bicol Express service that now features sleeping cars. The approximate travel time between Manila and Naga is 12 hours.
Rail junction along the national highway – this junction is located in the town of Gumaca. The signs are already obscured by tree branches and electric poles. At the time, one could see the state of neglect for the tracks as they are practically covered by dirt that transforms into mud during rainy days.
The railway tracks parallel to a barangay road – many sections again appear to be covered by dirt and growth. A tricycle is parked atop the tracks, probably waiting for passengers on space that is being used as a shoulder with respect to the local road. As communities have access to local roads, there are no trolleys here.
Neglected railway tracks – note the grass growing along the tracks and covering the rails. Also, from the looks of it some ties seem to be missing or just buried in the dirt. Many houses and shanties are obviously within the 30m ROW of the PNR. Such situations create a high risk for untoward incidents should rail services become regular and more frequent.