Among the more unusual names for a road is one that connects Quezon City in Metro Manila to Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) in Rizal Province – the Manila Gravel Pit Road. It is also known as Litex Road, which is referred to in many bus signboards plying the Fairview / Novaliches routes. The following photos were taken around the same time the other photos along the Batasan-San Mateo Road, Montalban Highway and Payatas Road were taken and so comprise a series of posts.
There are a few picturesque section of the road owing to the presence of greenery on both sides of the highway. There are also efforts here and there to improve drainage. One concern though is the lack of pedestrian facilities forcing people such as the woman on the left to use the carriageway instead.
There is significant truck traffic along this road. In particular there are many dump trucks (the rigid 3-axe types) traveling along the road for the primary purpose of transporting garbage to the nearby Payatas dumpsite. Prior to the focus on the dumpsite, the road was named as it was because of it being used to haul gravel from the quarries in nearby San Mateo and Montalban.
One will see many trucks parked along the road and still with their loads. Some truckers will try to salvage items they could sell to junk shops like scraps of metal, bottles and plastics that they are able to sort from their loads. What remains will be taken to the dumpsite where scavengers will have their chance to pick on whatever are left that probably has value.
From a road safety perspective, the road section fronting the school is unsafe for students as there are no pedestrian facilities, road markings (zebra crossing, rumble strips, etc.) and traffic signs (school zone, speed limits, etc.)
More trucks parked along the road beside informal junk shops put up by informal settlers. Many truckers also live in the area where many informal settlers are tolerated by the local government. These allegedly translate into votes during election times.
Approaching Commonwealth and the Fairview area, lands on either side of the road are occupied by informal settlers that hide the formal residential subdivisions in the area. Many structures have occupied what could have been pedestrian sidewalks and buffer zones between residential areas and the road. The situation is exacerbated by roadside parking.
The higher grounds of the Batasan area is visible in the horizon. This road section is conspicuously wide (4 lanes) and we chanced upon passing through while there was light traffic. Note also the more formal structures on either side of the road though pedestrian facilities are still lacking.
More junk shops along the road with some selling second (or even third) hand materials that can be used for construction. Many become the “building blocks” of shanties in informal settlements in the area.
Most sections have poor pavement conditions due to truck traffic and the lack of a proper drainage system. Water eventually seeps beneath the concrete layer and weakens the foundation (sub-base) of the pavement.
A sign that is not so easily seen informs travelers they are approaching Commonwealth Avenue. Also, have you noticed that the tricycle in this photo is also present in most of the previous photos? This is proof of the long ranges of such tricycles serving the area and competing directly with jeepneys with fixed routes. They are also among the many that violate a fundamental law that prohibits tricycles along national roads. Perhaps if this were a rural area, they could be excused but this is part of the urban jungle and so its obvious that the local government is at fault for not regulating their operations.
The road intersects with the Batasan Road just before the junction with Commonwealth Avenue. Near the Litex-Batasan intersection are all sorts of vehicles (jeepneys, AUVs, trucks, cars) parked along the roadside or at vacant lots plus tricycles lined up along informal terminals right on the streets.
More efforts are obviously needed to improve road safety along this road, particularly to encourage walking along areas better suited for such rather than being dependent on tricycles or pedicabs. The road is used by a significant volume of trucks, most of which carry solid waste or garbage collected from different parts of Metro Manila. Such freight are themselves associated with risks including their potential spillage and could contribute to pollution due to leachate from the usually wet garbage collected and hauled by the trucks.
We traveled along the section of Payatas Road from the junction with Montalban Highway to the intersection with the Manila Gravel Pit Road. A significant length of the road had the La Mesa watershed, Metro Manila’s main source of fresh water, along its right. This was an issue before and is still an issue today as more and more developments are made along the road with some already having impacts on the watershed due to encroachments, irresponsible waste disposal and other activities.
The following photos show various sections of the Payatas Road from its junction with Montalban Highway to the point it becomes the Gravel Pit Road (also known as Litex Road). The photos clearly show the road and roadside conditions of this important link between Metro Manila and Rizal Province.
The canal on the inner side of the road keeps water off the carriageway, making the surface safer for motorists. These though are not easily seen at night-time without proper pavement markings and lights.
The road has poor drainage along many of its sections including this section near a gas station where muddy water pools in the middle of the road. Such instances induce drivers and riders to encroach upon the opposing lane as shown in the photo above.
The Batasan-San Mateo Road is one of two roads directly connecting Metro Manila (through Quezon City) to the northern towns (San Mateo and Rodriguez) of Rizal Province. One end of the road is at the junction with the IBP Road that is the main access to the Batasan Complex, where the Philippine House of Representatives is located. The other end is at the junction with Gen. Antonio Luna, which is also known as the Marikina-San Mateo-Montalban Road.
The road has 2 lanes along each direction and opposing traffic are separated by a narrow median island tht probably won’t stop larger vehicles should their drivers lose control and go towards the other side.
Part of the road was carved out of the hill and this is clear from the sections where the rock or soil is exposed. This is similar to the way Ortigas Ave. in Pasig was constructed in the 1970’s out of the rock of the hills of Pasig and Mandaluyong.
The bridge is long and if traveling along the outer lanes, one can get a good view of the Marikina River and its flood plains. When traveling to QC, one would have a good view of the structures dotting the hills, which are mostly houses and shanties of different types.
Jeepneys started plying routes along the road as it provided a shorter way between Metro Manila and the towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez as well as the northern barangays of Marikina. Travelers won’t have to pass through the traditional way via Marikina.
End of the road – the junction with Gen. A. Luna, which is already in San Mateo, Rizal. Turning right takes the traveler to Marikina City while a left will bring one to San Mateo town proper and Rodriguez (Montalban) further on.
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?).
The Montalban Highway is located between the junction with J.P. Rizal Avenue in Rodriguez, Rizal (formerly known as the town of Montalban) and the junction with Payatas Road in Quezon City, Metro Manila. It serves as part of an alternate but somewhat longer (distance-wise) route between Metro Manila (via QC) and the northern towns (San Mateo and Rodriguez) of Rizal Province. The other route is through the Batasan-San Mateo Road, which also has a bridge crossing the Marikina River. While it is longer, it is often the less congested road and may perhaps offer faster travel (shorter travel times) between QC and San Mateo or Rodriguez. It is definitely the faster route to Montalban since travelers won’t have to pass through the town proper of San Mateo, which can get congested due to the local traffic and narrow roads.
While doing recon for a project in Tarlac, we inspected several areas where local roads were being used as alternate routes to national highways. Many of the local roads where categorized under Provincial or City Roads but were usually and obviously lower in quality when compared with their national counterparts. In many cases, the asphalt or cement concrete surface has been badly weathered and motorists won’t be able to avoid one pothole after the other.
The following photos were taken along the east dike road of the Tarlac River. The dike is not so conspicuous when seen from the main road during summers. This is in part due to the river usually having little water flowing due to the lahar that accumulated there from Mt. Pinatubo’s destructive eruptions in 1991. It’s a different case during the wet season when the river can overflow due to the amount of rainfall usually brought about by typhoons.
Local roads in a community along the westbound extension of the Gerona-Guimba Road (west of Gerona town proper from the junction with McArthur Highway) – the photo shows the extension as seen from a diversion road that leads travelers north towards the bridge to the town of Camiling from Paniqui.
Concrete roads are used as solar driers for palay and other items (e.g., coconut husks, barbecue sticks, tingting, etc.) can occupy much of the road in areas where there is very low traffic during the mid-day.
Both sides of the road are inhabited and have been planted with flowering plants (e.g., bougainvillas, santan, gumamela, etc.). Bananas are quite easy to grow and bear fruits almost immediately and productively.
Me and some colleagues decided to have an early lunch after a meeting in Manila one morning and ended up at a fried chicken restaurant at Malate along Roxas Boulevard. As it was still early, we were able to get choice seats with a window from across Roxas Blvd. and had a clear view of the road also known as R-1 and the service road between it and the restaurant. As we were exchanging stories and making observations of traffic during a summer morning we noticed the streetlights along Roxas Blvd. and casually exchanged remarks (and laughs) for what seemed like a “showcase” for different light posts along a road that is traversed not just by citizens of this country but also visitors (i.e., tourists).
There are three streetlight designs along Roxas Boulevard, at least along the section in the City of Manila. The first one the right in the photo seems to have the atom as an inspiration. The second, at the center of the photo, looks like a torch with the flames shaped in red-colored steel. The third, on the left of the photo, looks like a swing or a hammock and is similar to the much-maligned lamps in Cebu City.
These different streetlights along Roxas Boulevard are definitely examples of folly. They are a waste of public funds and sadly has not led to the proverbial heads rolling as a result of the obvious waste of money. Moreover, there might also be a likelihood of money being pocketed by corrupt persons as is likely the case for such situations in the Philippines.
Circumferential Road 4 or C-4 is perhaps the busiest among the major arterials of Metro Manila. It is usually associated with its longest segment named Epifanio De los Santos Avenue or EDSA, which stretches from the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City. There are two other segments of C-4: C-4 Road (R-10 to Letre/Samson Road), Letre Road (Malabon City Hall to Samson Road), and Samson Road (Letre/C-4 to Monumento). All in all, the road cuts across eight cities in Metro Manila: Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Makati and Pasay.
Between the first bridge and the next along the way to Monumento, travelers have a view of the section of Navotas-Malabon River meander on the right side. Garbage floating on the river are quite noticeable but not as many as in the past.
This is supposed to be a 4-lane section but it seems the roadside friction, driver behavior and the lack of pavement/lane markings contribute to the perception of limited space along C-4. Pedestrian sidewalks are also used as parking space by jeepneys and trucks as shown in the photo.
Intersection with Torres Bugallon – jeepneys crowd at the intersection and this often leads to congestion. Pedestrians cross anywhere and there are also pedicabs (non-motorized three-wheelers) roaming around that also contribute to the chaotic traffic.
Samson Road stretches along a very busy, much built-up district of Caloocan. Near Monumento, there are many big commercial centers including shopping malls around the rotonda known for a memorial for Andres Bonifacio, a national hero who led the revolution for independence from Spain in 1896.
Samson Road is obviously a national road but tricycles are allowed to operate here; just one of the traffic/transport policies that accommodate such paratransit modes along roads where they are inappropriate.
In order to address the vehicles counter-flowing or encroaching on the opposing traffic lanes and jaywalking problem, steel barriers were put up in the middle of the road. Overpasses like the one in the photo were constructed to enable people to cross the road. Notice the vehicles parked or standing along the road and on the sidewalks?
Approach to Monumento with the obelisk at the center island of the rotonda visible at the center of the photo. Also shown in the photo at the roadside is a traffic sign informing travelers that they are approaching a rotonda.
I enjoy walking in Singapore and perhaps to compare with walking in Japan, the only difference at times would be that at certain times of the year, it’s much cooler (or colder) in Tokyo or Yokohama. Outdoors in Singapore it can be uncomfortable due to the humidity but its actually the same in the temperate countries during summer. Among the more enjoyable walks even during workdays would perhaps be along the Esplanade connecting the Marina Square and Suntec areas with the offices across the river as well as the newly famous Marina Sands development.
View of the walkway, which is alongside the carriageway but separated by a plant box. That’s the Merlion on the background with all the people crowding probably to take souvenir photos with the city state’s symbol.
The key really is to enhance the walking experience such that people would not at all notice the distance they were traversing. Walking should be for everyone and not just something for those regarded as transport poor. In cities in progressive countries, for example, you see professionals in their suits mixed with people in casuals and students wearing their uniforms walking their chosen paces along streets provided with facilities suitable for walking and the volume of walkers (Yes, there is such a thing also as a level of service for pedestrian facilities and flow).
I would have taken photos of the connections between stations and places of interest in Singapore but I usually only had my trusty cell phone rather than a professional camera. With all the cameras installed around the city, my taking of photos might be misinterpreted rather than dismissed as just another camera nut taking souvenir or “artistic” shots of places.
An electric bus was on display at the 2nd Electric Vehicle Summit recently held at the Meralco Multi-purpose Hall. The exterior reminded me of the buses I rode in Yokohama and Saitama during my stints as a student and later as a visiting researcher. Following are a few photos I took of the exterior and interior of the bus. Most of the following notes are comments applicable to city buses operating in the Philippines rather than specifically for electric buses.
This electric bus was imported from Taiwan by the Victory Liner Inc.., which is among the largest provincial bus operators in the Philippines. The first thing I noticed is that the bus has a low floor, perhaps the same height as most curbs, but this can be a concern considering many of Metro Manila’s streets are subject to flash floods during the wet season.
The interior and layout is perhaps the most appropriate for buses with city operations. There is sufficient standing space from the front to the middle of the bus. Seats here are usually for the elderly or physically challenged and includes space for a wheelchair. Most city buses in Metro Manila have layouts that are suitable for long distance trips, with many seats and often narrow corridors.
The seats at the back look very inviting and I assume are comfy for long rides not because of distances but congestion. Obviously, these seats and especially those at the back, which require passengers to negotiate a few steps are free for all though those in the lower level may be reserved for the elderly, physically-challenged or pregnant women.
A look at the driver’s seat with the emblem of the manufacturer, RAC, on the steering wheel. I saw an article on the electric bus stating its specs (top speed of 95 kph and range of 270 km on a single charge). I’m really not worried about the specs given the advances in technology these days. I think it will still boil down to driver behavior when it comes to the question of road safety and the provision of efficient services for the public.
Unlike most city buses in the Philippines, this bus has 2 doors. The one at the front may be used for entrance and there’s space for transactions, i.e., payment of fares, showing passes or swiping of cards. The one at the back is wider for more efficient unloading of passengers. There is also a provision for a ramp that can be used by persons on wheelchairs.
The potential benefits derived from electric buses are quite obvious from the environmental perspective. I like its chances for success considering that the initiative is being pushed by a major company like Victory, which might have to show the way by being an example and be the first to deploy these buses on an actual route. Victory’s business, however, is in provincial operations so there should be at least one taker from among the companies operating in Metro Manila to use these buses on a route.
For demonstration purposes, I think Bonifacio Global City with its Fort Bus service can provide a good route for a start. The Fort is ideal for such electric buses given the current demand and route length. Charging stations may also be provided at the route ends, particularly at the Market! Market! transport terminal. Another option might be Katipunan, with electric buses allowed to enter the Ateneo campus and perhaps help alleviate traffic congestion there by encouraging their students and staff to use public transport. One end may be at the UP Diliman campus where the buses may also be allowed to enter the campus but perhaps take a route that won’t necessarily compete with jeepneys on campus (e.g., Academic Oval). Deciding the other end of the route would be a bit tricky but one option can be near SM Marikina where a secure terminal can be established and sufficient space for “park and ride” or “kiss and ride” operations. These might just be success stories in public transport waiting to happen.