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.