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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Paratransit in Davao City

While visiting a jeepney assembler in Davao, we took the opportunity to take not a few photos of paratransit vehicles along one road in Davao City. Of particular interest to us were what appeared to be three-wheelers that resembled the tuktuks of Thailand and the four-wheeled multicabs that served as an intermediate mode with passenger capacities between that of the tricycle and the typical jeepney.

What at first seemed to be three-wheelers were actually four-wheeled vehicles. For propulsion, they used typical motorcycles but instead of one-wheeled sidecars like the typical tricycles found in many cities and towns across the country, the fabricated body has 2 wheels and provided for two benches to accommodate more passengers.

Following are photos of these 4-wheeled paratransit vehicles we took while visiting a jeepney assembly in Davao. While there is a basic form for each vehicle, there are actually some distinct features for each, probably the manufacturer’s or assembler’s signature. There is no distinct color for any particular route so commuters would have to check the panel information before flagging one to make sure whether the PUV serves their destination although these seem to have fixed routes.

Maroon body with white roof [Agdao – Jerome route]

Gold body and roof [Agdao – South Bay route]

Black body and yellow roof [Agdao – Jerome route]

Black body and blue roof [Agdao – South Bay route]

Black body and white roof [Agdao – Jerome route]

We were also able to observe another form of jitney, which are generally called multicabs in the Philippines. The term multicab seem to have originated from a brand for these 3-cylinder engine vehicles that are fitted to carry passengers or in some cases as small freight vehicles. These are very popular in the Visayas and Mindanao where they typically seat 10 – 14 passengers excluding those in the front seat. The vehicle is narrower than the typical jeepney so only two people can usually fit in the front.

12-seater multicab

14-seater multicab

Typical jeepney design in Davao

Marcos Highway Bikeways and Walkways

I have written about the need for pedestrian facilities in previous posts. These include walking as a mode of transport, walkability in the Philippines, and even some personal experiences. There is no doubt about how important pedestrian and bicycle facilities are in order to promote walking and cycling as environment-friendly, healthy, and therefore sustainable modes of transport. Cities and towns where people walk and cycle are among the most healthy and perhaps vibrant places in the world. Walking outdoors, in fact, should be promoted if not encouraged (i.e., its difficult to encourage if there are no facilities, and health and safety are concerns) in cities where tourism is also being promoted as it can be used as an indicator for  how easy it is to go around the city or town and perhaps how clean the air is in the area.

Following are a few photos I managed to take along Marcos Highway that show the newly designated bikeways apportioned from the sidewalk that was constructed along with the rehabilitated carriageway. There are bikeways on both sides of the highway as what used to be the open channel drainage was replaced by culverts and the sidewalks where built on top. In order to enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, concrete barriers were placed along the road margins just above the curbs. The barriers actually work in another way, preventing or discouraging pedestrians or cyclists from wandering into the traffic lanes of this busy thoroughfare.

The white line delineates the bikeway, which is the lane along the curb, from the pedestrian walkway that is on the inner side of the path. This can be a bit confusing and creates conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists as the parts of the roadside are also designated as bus/jeepney stops.

Obstructions? – the bikelane runs smack into the staircase of the pedestrian overpass while the pedestrian path leads to electric posts. Such are issues that are also present along the more established bikeways of Marikina City.

Too many signs? – from this view, there seems to be a lot of signs along the bikeway, appropriate perhaps in order to inform motorists, pedestrians and cyclists about the facilities. The signs are also useful for enforcement as Marikina City, for example, is strictly enforcing its policies against parking and other obstructions along the bikeway. Unfortunately, Pasig, Cainta and Antipolo are lax in their responsibilities to clear the bike and pedestrian paths from obstructions.

Which direction? – the bike path markings state the direction for flow. Such is at best a suggestion as it is quite difficult to enforce one way flow for cycling. It must be made clear that the bikeway is mainly for commuting or utilitarian rather than for recreational or sporting purposes. Speeds should be slow enough for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist and perhaps share space for two-way flow.

All clear – the bike path is good enough even despite it going along so many driveways due to the nature of the developments along Marcos Highway. The bike path in front of the Metro East mall can be filled with commuters waiting to catch a ride and won’t be passable to cyclists especially during the afternoon to evening.

Unfortunately, crossing the highway is another challenge for cyclists as the steps for most overpasses along Marcos Highway are quite steep. There are at least 3 that were designed to have ramps (the Imelda Ave/A. Tuazon, Dela Paz and Ligaya overpasses have ramps) for bicycles and wheelchair access).

Establishments along highway can pitch in by ensuring the bike and pedestrian paths are clear of obstructions including parked vehicles. Incidentally, there is one gas station along Marcos Highway that is also a depot for taxis where the latter seem to always occupy the sidewalks. I have seen Marikina staff flagging them for disrespecting the right of way of pedestrians and cyclists but they seem to have some difficulty in clearing the area of parked vehicles. (Note: The Dela Paz pedestrian overpass is visible downstream.)

The pedestrian and bicycle facilities along Marcos Highway will certainly go a long way in promoting walking and cycling. At both ends of the highway though, at the Masinag junction at the eastern end and Santolan in the west, there are issues pertaining to continuity as both bikeways and walkaways disappear and pedestrians and cyclist would suddenly have to contend with mixing it up with motor vehicles along the carriageway should they want to continue in their travel. This issue of continuity should be addressed both by policy and the provision of suitable facilities for cycling and walking.

Perhaps something to think about is the realization of a link between the Marikina Bikeways, the Marcos Highway bike paths and UP Diliman’s bicycle lane along its academic oval via Aurora Boulevard and Katipunan. This can eventually be linked to the wide sidewalks along Commonwealth Avenue that can also be apportioned for pedestrians and cyclists. Perhaps such an integrated network covering parts of Quezon City, Marikina City, Pasig City, Cainta and Antipolo City can be realized quickly with enough effort from the respective local governments and maybe with a little help from the private sector including schools and commercial establishments along the network.

Road right-of-way encroachments: Samar

Going around the country for projects, we always take a lot of photos about transportation including roads, bridges and transport modes. Thank goodness for digital cameras and cell phone cameras, and special mention to memory cards that have allowed us to take photos at will often only worrying about battery life. In a previous post, I wrote about encroachments to the RROW and featured some photos from field work we did in Palawan. This time, I was able to find a few choice photos taken from another project we did; this time in the island of Samar in the Eastern Visayas. In the following photos, one will see permanent structures already built along the roads –  ones that are usually the most difficult to remove and the residents a challenge to be relocated.

Houses built alongside the highway on what is supposed to be shoulder space. What looks like a booth in from tof the parked vehicle on the right is actually a guard post for the barangay. The barangay hall is located behind the fence visible at the right of the photo.

Makeshift houses along the secondary national road also on space usually where the shoulders are. Some houses are located at a hazardous part of the road (i.e., right at the curve and just behind the chevron signs).

More houses with their fences encroaching on the RROW along a secondary national road in Eastern Samar – the sign on the right, while not exactly obstructed, will blend with the structures and will probably be unseen or unnoticed by motorists.

Souvenir? – I have seen signs being stolen and displayed in some homes as trophies (actually an illegal act that can get one jailed and fined a hefty sum if caught by authorities). Some souvenirs are harder to take but can be integrated with the house interior or, in this case, as part of a store. Imagine knowing the exact location of a store in the area not through GPS but simply by knowing the exact kilometer post where the store was put up.

There are many other examples of RROW encroachments along other roads. These seem to be common along all types of highways where development along the roads are generally not regulated by local governments but present future problems when space is needed to widen roads to accommodate traffic. Is it an issue of cooperation between the DPWH and the LGUs (including the DILG)? Or is it mainly a local issue that is largely the responsibility of local authorities? Perhaps it is both and something that needs to be addressed to enhance road safety as well as to ensure that future headaches will be avoided when it is time to access the RROW.

Road right-of-way encroachments: Palawan

Encroachments to the road right of way (RROW) is quite common along many roads in the Philippines including national roads. While the DPWH has jurisdiction over the latter roads in as far as construction and maintenance is concerned, the agency does not have the resources to secure these roads. Such responsibility lies in the hands of local government units (LGUs), which are tasked to regulate land use at the local level ahead of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). Following are a few photos I took in one trip to Palawan where we did a few road safety audits of a national highway.

This RROW marker that doubles as a kilometer post along a highway in Palawan is located a few meters from the carriageway. While there are no developments or encroachments along this section, such markers could easily get lost.

This one’s already behind the fence (and house) of a family encroaching on the RROW. Many of these people establish homes and even informal businesses (vulcanizing shops, makeshift stores, etc.) along the road with LGUs often turning a blind eye and in many cases even allowing people to register the lands as their own when in fact these have been reserved for future expansion of the road.

Zooming in on the marker shows it to be behind a storage shed where grain, lumber, bamboo and various other materials are piled up.

For most of these people who have encroached on the RROW, their actions are not illegal given that in many cases, the LGUs let them do so in order to develop areas along the road. The problem comes later when these developments and residents begin constricting traffic along the highways and demanding compensation when they are asked to move out to give way to road widening projects. It seems that the best approach is still for LGUs to do their part in regulating settlements along roads so that most if not all will locate outside the RROW. In other cases where it is obvious that development will come much later, it should be clear to settlers that the property is not theirs and will not be theirs, and that they would have to go sometime in the future when the road needs to be widened. This is not an easy thing for LGUs to accomplish but they should have system in place for this since it will considerably be more difficult later when the roadside has been settled with more permanent structures.

School traffic impacts – issues along Ortigas Ave., Part 1

I have written about school traffic generation in this blog and have mentioned about the traffic congestion experiences along major thoroughfares due to the vehicles attracted by private schools. La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) is an exclusive school found along Ortigas Avenue and during the summer months of April and May, people passing through the stretch of the road from EDSA to the Greenhills Shopping Center are relieved that they won’t have to go through traffic jams due to the school-generated traffic. From June to early December and January to March, however, the area is almost always congested in the morning and afternoon. Such congestion is predictable since it occurs during a period when students come to school and when they are dismissed mid-day or in the afternoon.

Heading to a meeting at the DOTC from the University one morning, we decided to take an alternate route. Instead of EDSA or C5, we took East Ave., Tomas Morato Ave., Gilmore Street and then emerged at the westernmost end of Ortigas in San Juan. It was already 9:00 AM when we arrived at the section most affected by the traffic generated by LSGH and so we didn’t to get caught in a jam as we proceeded towards our destination. We were proven right as traffic was almost free-flowing, and I took advantage of the traffic conditions and to take a few photos of the indicators for the potential traffic congestion in the area. The following photos also show a serious parking problem and (sadly) the usurpation of space from pedestrians. For shame!

School service vehicles parked along the sidewalk along Ortigas Avenue – beyond the wall on the right is Wack-wack, a high-end residential subdivision named for the sound of golf clubs swinging at its famous course.

Private vehicles parked along the same sidewalk – noticeable in the photo is the pink line drawn by the MMDA to supposedly demarcate space that should not be obstructed and instead allocated for pedestrian use. It is clear in the photos that pedestrians would have to walk along the edge of the sidewalk or the outer lane of the carriageway itself, increasing the risks for them to get sideswiped by motor vehicles.

More parked vehicles along Ortigas Avenue, mostly private vehicles that are highly likely owned by those studying at LSGH.

It’s actually worse on the other side of Ortigas Ave. as vehicles occupy a lane of the carriageway, effectively reducing capacity along this stretch of the road.

It seems the main purpose of the pedestrian overpass is to allow students to safely cross the street to get from and to their vehicles. I can only imagine the congestion caused by drop-offs and pick-ups along Ortigas Ave., which for certain times of the day functions as a driveway for the school.

Sales Bridge repairs completed

The repairs to Sales Bridge, which connects the Fort Bonifacio area to Villamor and the NAIA terminal complex, has been completed and all lanes along the bridge are now passable. The bridge has been a bottleneck for some weeks as repair works have led to serious traffic congestion in the area, particularly along Sales Road that’s among the main access roads to NAIA, particularly Terminal 3, which is at the end of the road and along Andrews Avenue. From another perspective, the bridge is also a main access route to Fort Bonifacio (and Bonifacio Global City) and Makati (via Pasong Tamo Extension) via Lawton Avenue, of which the bridge is a part of. I took a couple of photos while en route to T3 clearly showing all lanes open to traffic.

Under the Skyway, traffic flows smoothly on either side of the bridge. When the bridge was being repaired, only 3 lanes were available to traffic – one westbound and two eastbound.

Mixed traffic along the Sales Bridge includes trucks and bicycles. Further downstream is a roundabout at the intersection of Sales Road and the West Service Road along the South Luzon Expressway. Also, shown in the photo is the Skyway ramp connecting the tollway to the Villamor and the NAIA terminal complex.

NAIA Terminal 3 multi-level parking building

I finally had the opportunity to take some quick photos as we drove through the departure level of NAIA’s Terminal 3. The objective was to take a few photos of the still closed multi-level parking facility adjacent to the terminal building, which could be accessed both from the ground and upper level driveways. It was late afternoon and it looked like it was going to rain so the photos were not as good as I would have liked them to be. Still, they clearly show the unused parking facility of T3 that could have been quite helpful to a lot of travelers especially those who wanted to leave their vehicles at the airport a few days or nights for short trips.

Driveway along the departure level of NAIA Terminal 3

Motor vehicle exit ramp from the departure level – the parking building is seen on the right

The parking building is seen immediately after the passenger terminal gates for departures

After unloading passengers and well-wishers, drivers could have proceeded to the parking building via the ramp from the second level driveway (shown at the right in the photo).

Ramp to Andrews Avenue – the Newport City development that contains several hotels including a Marriott Hotel and Resorts World Manila is located in the complex.

Transportation-related lectures at the UP College of Engineering 2012 Professorial Chair Colloquium

The College of Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman will be holding its Professorial Chair Colloquium for 2012 on July 30, 2012 at the Melchor Hall and the UP Alumni Engineers Centennial Hall at the UP Diliman campus. Among the topics under many disciplines of engineering are several lectures on transportation. These are the following and mainly under three departments of the college.

Institute of Civil Engineering [P & G Room, Melchor Hall]

  • “Investigation of Road Crash Causes in Metro Manila,” Dr. Hilario Sean O. Palmiano, DMCI Developers Professorial Chair [8:30 – 8:50 am]
  • “Design of Traffic Signal Timing and Traffic Impacts of the Re-introduction of Traffic Signal Control at the Intersection of the University Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue,” Dr. Karl B.N. Vergel, Maynilad Professorial Chair [8:50 – 9:10 am]
  • “Microscopic Simulation: A Tool for Evaluation of Traffic Schemes,” Dr. Ricardo G. Sigua, Prof. Emeritus Norbert S. Vila Professorial Chair [9:10 – 9:30 am]
  • “Revisiting the Costs of Traffic Congestion in Metro Manila and Their Implications,” Dr. Jose Regin F. Regidor, Pozzolanic Philippines, Inc. Professorial Chair [9:30 – 9:50 am]

Department of Mechanical Engineering [Maynilad Room, Melchor Hall]

  • “Performance And Emission Characteristics of a Direct Injection Diesel Vehicle with Different Blends of CME Biodiesel,” Dr. Edwin N. Quiros, Emerson Professorial Chair in Mechanical Engineering [9:30- 9:50 am]
  • “Design and Local Fabrication of an Energy- Efficient Electric Vehicle,” Asst. Prof. Joseph Gerard T. Reyes, Emerson Professorial Chair in Engineering [10:30 – 10:50 am]

Department of Chemical Engineering [Maynilad Room, Melchor Hall]

  • “Co-Production of Alternative Fuels for the Philippines,” Dr. Rizalinda L. De Leon, Semirara Professorial Chair in Engineering [10:50 – 11:10 am]

The lectures are all open to the public and will be held from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM. There are 8 lecture groups that are assigned to 8 venues at Melchor Hall and UPAE Centennial Hall. Melchor Hall is located at the university core along the Academic Oval while the UPAE Hall is located along Velasquez Street beside the EEE Institute Building and across from the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS).

The Transport Training Center

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the founding of an institution that since 1976 has been dedicated towards providing capacity on transportation engineering and planning mainly for the government of the Philippines. The National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of the University of the Philippines was founded as the Transport Training Center (TTC) in July 12, 1976 by virtue of Letter of Instructions No. 428 by then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. The center was established at the UP Diliman campus with assistance from the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).


TO : The Secretary of Public Highways
The President, University of the Philippines System
The Director-General, National Economic and
Development Authority
The Secretary of Public Works,
Transportation and Communications
The Commander, Constabulary Highway Patrol Group

WHEREAS, the present accelerated development program of the country coupled with rapid urbanization growth due to migration and population increase, has further aggravated the already complex traffic problems;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent need for trained personnel with adequate background and skill in transport planning, more specifically in the fields of traffic engineering and management;

WHEREAS, such need cannot be fully met by limited programs for technical training here and abroad;

WHEREAS, a Transport Training Center geared to provide intensive and practical training in the fields of traffic engineering, planning and management can provide the means for upgrading the capability and potential of a significant number of personnel in government agencies concerned with transportation; and

WHEREAS, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has offered to donate equipment needed for such training and to provide, for a period of three (3) years, several experts who shall, together with local Instructors, conduct the training course;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, in order to establish an efficient transport system that will provide a fast, safe and convenient movement of people and goods on all streets and highways do hereby direct:

1. The Secretary of the Department of Public Highways and the President of the University of the Philippines System to jointly establish, manage and operate a Transport Training Center within the campus of the University of the Philippines System;

2. The Secretary of the Department of Public Highways to include in its budget the yearly operational expenses of the Transport Training Center, starting from Calendar Year 1976, and for the succeeding years;

3. The Secretary of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications to include in its budget (C.Y. 1976) an amount to cover the construction of the Transport Training Center building at UP;

4. The Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority to create a Steering Committee to be chaired by the representative from the Department of Public Highways, being the lead agency, and to draw one member each from all the concerned agencies. This Committee shall promulgate rules and regulations as guide to management, and such other policies deemed necessary for the effective and successful operation of the Training Center;

5. That all agencies concerned shall assist in every way possible, and to closely coordinate and take such measures as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purpose and intent of these instructions.

Done in the City of Manila, this 12th day of July, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-six.

Another look at Davao’s Francisco Bangoy International Airport

I featured Davao in a previous post and just had to feature it again after being able to get a few decent photos of the arrival areas, passengers’ lounge and the terminal itself. The photos will also show that the airport is well maintained considering not much has changed since the last time I was there for a few days in 2009. I was actually in Davao in 2010 but it was a very quick visit as I was en route to Manila from General Santos City and had traveled more than 2 hours by land to make the last flight out of the city.

Airport terminal as seen from a plane taxiing from the runway

Tarmac area at Davao Airport

Waiting for the plane to unload the pallets containing passengers’ baggage and other freight

Baggage claim area at the domestic wing

Tarpaulin welcoming visitors and returning residents to Davao City

Passengers streaming from the baggage claim towards the exit from the arrival area

Information booth – they have good materials for first-timers

Airport terminal as seen from the road leading to the national highway

 It was a pleasant surprise to see self-service check-in machines at the Davao airport. I haven’t seen these at NAIA Terminal 3 as well as at the Iloilo and Bacolod-Silay airports. While I usually check-in online when I’m flying Cebu Pacific, this can be a good alternative for passengers traveling light and have no luggage to check-in.

Another look at Davao’s spacious terminal – the only glitch seems to be the descending escalator not functioning at the time we were there.

Check-in counters for domestic airline passengers – though spacious, it could get quite crowded not just because of the number of passengers but also because of their luggage and souvenirs. Davao is well-known for its fruits so it is not uncommon for passengers having one or more boxes of pomelo or perhaps durian, which have to be checked-in as the latter is not allowed in the aircraft cabin due to its smell.

Corridor from the final security check prior to the departure gates

Along the corridors are a few benches and some small shops as well as the lounges for business and first class passengers, and VIPs.

The pre-departure lounge of the airport is expansive – appropriate for the number of passengers usually served by the terminal

Another look at the pre-departure area, which looked crowded because people tended to be seated closer to their departure gates. Our flight would be on board a B747 so there were really a lot of passengers. Still, there were many seats available at the lounge.

That’s our gate in the middle of the photo.

I think Francisco Bangoy is one of the cleanest airports in the Philippines. It is also among the most organized and more spacious ones. Airport authorities are also quite strict with security, giving travelers that sense of safety once in the airport premises. Airports should provide such feeling to passengers and other users of the facility considering the airport is a major meeting place for a lot of people aside from being gateways and serving as a first impression of that city to visitors.