Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: August 2012

NAIA Terminal 1 Arrival

Arriving at NAIA Terminal 1, I was curious to see if there have been significant improvements in the terminal as the arrival corridors and facilities would probably give visitors a first impression of Metro Manila and the country as well. Terminal 1 serves all other international carriers with flights to Manila with only Japanese airline All Nippon Airways using Terminal 3 for its flights. Domestic carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operate to and from Terminals 2 and 3, respectively.

The corridors are definitely cleaner and neater than before (when Terminal 1 was heavily criticized as being one of the worst international airports in the world) and I think the tarps featuring tourist destinations around the Philippines help promote the country.

The corridors are spacious enough and the walk is not so long to require moving walkways or “walkalators.” There are staff and equipment at the end of the corridor scanning for indications of high body temperature usually associated with flu.

There are still long queues at the immigration counters despite additional booths and personnel posted at Terminal 1.

There are separate counters for Philippine passport holders and those bearing passports from other countries. Previously, there were special counters for Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW).

Checked-in luggage emerge and move along at the carousel for our flight.

Singapore Airlines placed these signs on old luggage to caution passengers on picking up or identifying luggage from the carousel.

Flora at Changi Terminal 2

Changi Airport currently has four terminals including the Budget Terminal serving low-cost airliners particularly Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific. Each terminal seem to have a unique design and collectively they are regarded as one of the best if not the best airport in the world. Terminal 2 has an indoor garden featuring orchids, ferns and palm trees.

I took a few photos of the plants at the Changi Airport Terminal 2 in Singapore. The orchids and other tropical plants provide a nice touch to the airport and seems to be an added attraction for visitors. I spotted a few tourists taking photos with the plants, particularly the orchids in the background. The orchids are endemic to Southeast Asia and I do remember some of them from my mother’s garden as well as others I’ve seen elsewhere including at the University.

Ferns and palm trees in the middle of the airport

Orchids in full bloom – yes, they are all real and not made out of plastic or paper

More orchids arranged among the palm trees and other flora in this indoor garden

The airport also provided a description of each specie of the plants in the garden

A garden full of flowers with the airport duty free shops in the background

More of the “Dancing Lady” orchids at the garden

Orchids of different colors help make the terminal “alive” and perhaps contribute to a more relaxed and pleasing environment indoors.

Perhaps Philippine airports should also consider having such gardens within the terminals to enhance the in-door environments. There are surely many plants and flowers that can be featured here including endemic ones like orchids, jasmine, and hibiscus varieties.

Professorial Chair 2012 presentations on Transportation

The Transportation Engineering Group of the Institute of Civil Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman held a special session for its Professorial Chair Lectures last August 10, 2012 at the Toyota Training Room of the National Center for Transportation Studies. Four lectures were delivered by ICE faculty members who are also Research and Extension Fellows at the NCTS. Following are a few photos taken during the colloquium.

Dr. Sean Palmiano presenting on the Investigation of Road Crash Causal Factors in Metro Manila (DMCI Developers Professorial Chair)

Dr. Karl Vergel presenting on the 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 (Maynilad Professorial Chair)

Dr. Ric Sigua presenting on Microscopic Simulation: A Tool for Evaluation of Traffic Schemes (Prof. Emeritus Norbert S. Vila Professorial Chair)

Dr. Regin Regidor presenting on Revisiting the Costs of Traffic Congestion in Metro Manila and their Implications (Pozzolanic Philippines, Inc. Professorial Chair)

Audience consisting of various participants including those from the DPWH, DOTC and MMDA who were invited for the colloquium.

Graduate students and technical staff from the College of Engineering and the National Center for Transportation Studies also attended the lectures. Unfortunately, classes were suspended that week due to the monsoon rains that resulted in widespread flooding in Metro Manila so undergraduate students were not able to attend the colloquium.

The presentation files may be found in a previous post where links for downloading are provided. These may also be found in the NCTS website.

Update on the UP AGT Test Track construction

Visiting the site at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) where a test track for the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) is currently being constructed, one wonders if this is a precursor of a transit system that might eventually replace the ubiquitous jeepneys plying several routes within the campus. There have been misleading stories about this “replacement” going around the internet and being passed on from one person to another. I am aware of both as I regularly see posts in some online discussion threads that make it appear as if the UP administration and DOST are in discussion for a mass transit system to replace the IKOT jeepneys. They are not in any such discussions that I am aware of considering I am a member of the UP Diliman Transportation Committee. Perhaps people are inspired by an existing system in Germany at the University of Dortmund. I caution the reader against making any sweeping conclusions as UP Diliman’s travel demand characteristics are quite different from that of the University of Dortmund’s.

I also get asked a lot about what will happen to the jeepneys once the “monorail” is operational. My response is always that nothing will happen to them because there simply won’t be a monorail. What is being constructed is the superstructure for the test track of an Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) prototype. Being a test track, its being operational means it can be used for research & development (R&D) for future systems (hopefully, homegrown) that can be constructed where they are needed and appropriate.

The site has been fenced off to minimize the appearance on-site of curious people (usiseros?). One such person even climbed a column to take photos of the construction work and posted these in the internet. As this is a construction site, such incidents are not supposed to happen mainly due to safety concerns.

Construction work continues despite the wet weather. The week-long monsoon rains have rendered the ground muddy or mushy but workers are busy as if it were summer.

The columns for the elevated structure are all in place but in various stages of completion. Those along C.P. Garcia until the intersection with the University Avenue only have the reinforcing steel bars in place and awaiting the pouring of concrete.

Construction materials are piled up on top of tarp-covered ground as workers take some time-out from their work.

The test track  is supposed to be completed by October including the installation of power lines and a power station for the electric-powered vehicle. The DOST has also bidded out the assembly of the vehicle that will be used for the experiments. Hopefully, the vehicle will be ready by the time the test track is completed. It is expected that the AGT would have manned tests by late November or early December, in time for a demonstration before or on the day of UP Diliman’s Lantern Parade.

Sumulong Highway: Marikina to Masinag

Sumulong Highway stretches from its intersection with A. Tuazon Ave. and A. Bonifacio Ave. in Marikina City, Metro Manila to the intersection with the Taktak Road or M.L. Quezon Ave. in Antipolo City in the Province of Rizal. It serves both as an arterial (for Marikina and Antipolo) and a feeder (with respect to Marcos Highway).

The following photos show the stretch from Marikina to Masinag that shows typical conditions along the highway. These conditions are quite different from those along the stretch from Masinag to Taktak Road in upper Antipolo City.

Sumulong Highway has a total of 4 lanes (2 per direction) but a lack of pavement markings make it difficult to ascertain the center of the road and the space allocation for traffic. This makes travel less safe as motorists assume they are traveling along the correct space on the road.

The asphalt-surfaced road has no lane markings but has very good pavement conditions. There is also significant on-street parking as most establishments along the highway have no adequate off-street parking spaces. The section shown above is right in front of a sabungan or coliseum for cockfights.

There are pedestrian crossings though, near intersections and where there are schools along the highway.

Only the traffic lanes have asphalt overlay, the shoulders have the concrete surface exposed thereby distinguishing them from the traveled way.

The shoulders are used as parking spaces for establishments along the highway as shown in the photo. Such practices are also common along national highways around the country.

Even the barangay hall of Bgy. Mayamot utilizes road space for parking as shown in the left. The Mayamot Barangay Hall is see on the left in the photo. This effectively reduces road capacity leading to traffic slowing down at such sections.

Another pedestrian crossing, this time in front of a public school right after the barangay hall.

Some sections have sidewalks for people to walk along but these are also usually blocked or occupied by stuff from the establishments along the street.

Waiting shed along the highway. I could not say its typical because the more recent ones usually have names or initials of politicians on them. This shed is likely to be old and uses clay tiles for roofing.

There are also tricycles along the road due to the sidestreets and subdivision entrances connecting to the highway. Public utility tricycles are supposed to be prohibited from using national roads but are common in most provincial areas and CBDs where they are the main mode of transport. In this case, tricycles should be prohibited from using the highway as they are already competing with jeepneys, serving larger areas aside from what should be individual subdivisions or residential districts.

There are many auto repair and supply shops along this stretch of Sumulong Highway. Such shops typically have many customers who also park along the highway, often occupying road space and causing congestion.

Approaching the Masinag junction, which is the intersection of Marcos and Sumulong Highways, one sees more commercial establishments on either side, mostly small stores or shops. At the junction is the Masinag Wet Market, which is now in decline after major commercial developments have been constructed in the area including the most recent SM City Masinag.

Steel barriers placed along the center of the highway to discourage jaywalking – some barriers have been moved by pedestrians to create space for illegal (and risky) crossings such as what is seen just downstream in the middle of the photo (notice the person with the red umbrella?).

Barriers forcing all traffic to turn right to Marcos Highway – seen across is the approach of Sumulong Highway from Antipolo

Portions of this section of Sumulong Highway are prone to flooding including the intersection with V.V. Soliven Avenue, which leads to SSS Village and other subdivisions. The more recent floodings were due to the heavy monsoon rains from a couple of weeks ago that effectively isolated residential areas in Marikina and Antipolo as vehicles could not exit the subdivisions to major roads like Sumulong and Marcos Highways. It’s quite interesting to note that the drainage systems along these roads including Sumulong have not been upgraded to be able to accommodate run-off from what is turning to be heavier rains due to climate change. Thus, it may be expected that the same sections will be flooded should there be heavy rains particularly due to  typhoons and other major weather systems affecting Metro Manila and its environs.

NAIA 2 Arrival Sunduan

I took some photos of the NAIA Terminal 2 arrival area while waiting for my in-laws to arrive from Singapore via Philippine Airlines. Terminal 2, which is also called the Centennial Terminal after opening in 1998, the 100th year of Philippines’ Independence, is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines for both its domestic and international operations. The North Wing serves international passengers while the South Wing serves domestic passengers.

Gate and fence separating the tarmac from the VIP parking area just behind the cafe at the international wing of NAIA Terminal 2 – I was actually taking a photo of the windblown coconut trees and the dark clouds generated by a slow-moving typhoon Gener.

VIP parking area at the NAIA T2 that is near the gate access to the tarmac. The building in the background is what used to be the Philippine Village Hotel. The building has been unoccupied for many years now and is up for demolition and re-development along with the old Nayong Filipino theme park.

Stairs to the departure level of NAIA-T2 with the control tower in the background

Cafe just outside the arrival level – I usually have a snack or tea at this cafe if I have time before the plane arrives

The waiting area has benches for people waiting for their relatives or friends

Small screen showing information on aircraft arrivals just above the public phones

7Coffee shop and screens at the arrival area. This is the only shop in the area as the other concessionaire closed up months ago.

The screens show passengers arriving at the baggage claim area inside the airport and as they exit from the customs checkpoints.

People could see passengers lining up at the immigration counters from the waiting area outside the terminal

Spacious arrival concourse exclusive to passengers (well-wishers are not allowed here). The yellow sign indicates the small duty-free shop near the exit from the terminal building.

Passengers transferring to the departure level can take the escalator shown in the photo. The escalator, however, seems to be always under maintenance and unavailable. There is another on the other end of the International Wing of the terminal.

Floods along NLEX and SCTEX

Making a day trip to Olongapo City for a consultation meeting for a study we are doing for the city, we passed by several flooded areas in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales. The floods have been brought about by the heavy rains of the past few days due to a tropical storm that battered the Northern Philippines. It didn’t help that monsoon rains in the previous week, which have left much of Metro Manila and the same provinces already poured in much water, saturating the soils and prolonging the floods and misery for people living in these areas. Following are a few photos I took as we traveled along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

NLEX – Candaba Swamps of Pampanga

NLEX – Viaduct along the Candaba Swamps

NLEX – Viaduct

NLEX – swampland as seen from the viaduct

NLEX – large trees scattered across the swamp

NLEX – a strip of land with large mango trees survives the flooding

SCTEX – river flowing with muddy waters

SCTEX – flooded rice fields on both sides of the expressway

SCTEX – fertile farmlands have been inundated causing much economic losses

SCTEX – some fields have just been planted with rice when the rains came and flooded these fields

SCTEX – more flooded fields

NLEX – scenes are quite similar to those along the NLEX

NLEX – flooded fields in Pampanga

NLEX – Candaba Swamplands as seen from the southbound side of the tollway

NLEX – floods everywhere in Central Luzon

Professorial Chair Lectures on Transportation Topics – 2012

The College of Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman recently held its Professorial Chair Colloquium where lectures were delivered by faculty members from the various institutes and departments comprising the college. Four lectures were delivered last August 10, 2012 at a special session held at the Toyota Training Room of the National Center for Transportation Studies. The lectures were on transportation topics and presented by faculty members of the Institute of Civil Engineering who are also Fellows at the NCTS. Following are the lectures and the presentation files in PDF:

Palmiano, H.S.O., Investigation of Road Crash Causal Factors in Metro Manila, DMCI Developers Professorial Chair: Road Safety Researches HSOPalmiano 10Aug2012

Vergel, K.N., 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, Maynilad Professorial Chair: Traffic Signal Timing KNVergel 10Aug2012

Sigua, R.DG., Microscopic Simulation: A Tool for Evaluation of Traffic Schemes, Prof. Emeritus Norbert S. Vila Professorial Chair: Traffic Simulation RDGSigua 10Aug2012

Regidor, J.R.F., Revisiting the Costs of Traffic Congestion in Metro Manila and their Implications, Pozzolanic Philippines, Inc. Professorial Chair: Revisiting Costs of Congestion JRFRegidor 10Aug2012

NAIA Terminal 1 Departure

I was able to take a few photos inside NAIA Terminal 1 during one recent trip. Terminal 1 is the oldest of the three main terminals of Manila international airport with the exception of the old domestic terminal. It is this Terminal 1 that was known as the New Manila International Airport until 1986, when it was renamed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the husband of former President Corazon Aquino, father of current Philippines President Noynoy Aquino. It is also this Terminal which has been the subject of criticisms for being dilapidated and unfit to be a major gateway to the country, particularly its capital.

Corridor leading to the pre-departure area and gates at one wing of the terminal – the carpets seem tidy enough and airport staff may be found cleaning the area near one of the airline lounges.

Corridor leading to the pre-departure area – the area

View along the escalator descending towards the pre-departure area – upon reaching the bottom, one will find himself/herself facing counters selling food and drinks to travelers.

Shops selling local goods like dried fruit, cookies, preserves, souvenirs and other stuff at the pre-departure area of the terminal. Notice the newly tiled floors?

Shop specializing in products made out of Philippine mangoes – they even sell fresh mangoes aside from the popular dried fruit and candies

Seats at the pre-departure area of the terminal – this is the free seating area that is not associated with any airline. Normally, areas are cordoned off for passenger control and security measures prior to boarding by any airline. The seats are relatively old but are clean and some appear to have been re-upholstered.

Passengers waiting at the designated area for Singapore Airlines. The airline conducts a security check of all hand-carried baggage for all passengers similar to the practice for US-bound flights.

Admittedly, there is still much work to be done for NAIA’s Terminal 1 in order for it to be able to handle more passengers and well-wishers. There are also a lot to be done in terms of amenities and we can be hopeful that issues pertaining to its facilities will be addressed sooner rather than later.

Solutions to floods and traffic in Marikina, Antipolo and Cainta?

Writing about the improved drainage systems along Marcos Highway and A. Tuazon in the cities of Marikina, Antipol and Pasig and the Municipality of Cainta, I was hopeful (along with a lot of other people living in these areas) that the completed projects would be able to handle heavy rains such as those experienced during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) in 2009. It turns out a lot of people’s hopes sank in the floods that have ravaged the areas again and many other parts of Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces this last several days.

Is there a solution to the problem? I would like to think that there is an engineering solution. I cite as an example Malaysia’s experience, particularly in Kuala Lumpur that has also experienced a lot of flooding in the past. To address severe flooding brought about by , they constructed the Storm Management and Road Tunnel or SMART Tunnel . Details for this infrastructure are posted in their website and it does not take a genius to understand what it would take for the Philippines to solve similar problems in its national capital region. [Of course, it helped that the tunnel is also used for traffic!] Too much investment is already established in these cities and it is not an easier task to move people from the affected areas compared with what it would take to build something like the SMART. Sige nga, kaya bang palipatin ang lahat ng tao sa Marikina, QC, Pasig, lower Antipolo and Cainta sa ibang lugar? 

Singapore also did major drainage works in that city state along with its subway development. They recognized early on that they had a serious problem and it required sacrifices that are now paying off in terms of them also experiencing heavy rains from the monsoon and yet have minimal or no severe flooding problems like what we have. Such projects are long overdue here and should be the flagship project of any administration who would want to come up with something that they will be remembered for by generations to come – and with smiles on their faces.