Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Changi’s Terminal 3

I have been to Singapore many times but usually go through Terminal 2 and the Budget Terminal. It came as a pleasant surprise that our Singapore Airlines staff announced we were arriving at Terminal 3 instead of at 2. I quickly realized the airline could do this as SIA flew out of both Terminals 2 and 3, with 2 used for flights to Asian destinations and 3 for flights to the US and Europe. Our aircraft would probably be flying to a US or European destination after we deplane. I have heard a lot of good stuff about Terminal 3, which is the newest and largest of the 3 main terminals at Changi. Mostly, I’ve heard and seen (in photos) about it from my wife, whom I trust to know what a good terminal is based on her frequent flights abroad. She has been to more international airports than me including those in Europe and the US. My first impression of Terminal 3 is that it is perhaps the best terminal I’ve seen so far and definitely puts Changi in the Top 2 or 3 airports in the world.

Crowded Skytrain servicing the Changi Airport Terminals (except for the Budget Terminal, which is accessible via a shuttle bus).

Indoor pocket forest at Changi’s huge Terminal 3 – these were actual trees laid out inside the terminal ┬áthat visitors could see as they descended the escalators from the concourse to proceed towards the immigration counters.

Statues of a couple on what looks like real grass with bird flying around them. There was a description near the artwork but opted not to approach and be too touristy considering this area was just before the immigration counters.

At the baggage claim area waiting for my luggage to arrive via conveyor, I noticed the sparkling floors of the terminal. They actually mirror the relief work of the walls.

Davao’s Traffic Management Center

I finally had the opportunity to visit Davao City’ Traffic Management Center, a modern facility that serves as a command center for traffic management as well as for disaster response for what is arguably the largest city in terms of land area in the Philippines. The city is able to monitor traffic via CCTVs installed throughout its road network, particularly at intersections. This allows the city to also respond to incidents like road crashes and to call in police or emergency personnel for various concerns. Traffic signals are also controlled from this facility. Our visit to Davao was upon the invitation of the City Mayor, Hon. Sara Duterte, and we had a meeting with the City Planning and Development Coordinator, Mr. Roby Alabado, who was a faculty member of UP Mindanao and a very active public servant. With me was Dr. Ric Sigua, Professor at UP Diliman’s Institute of Civil Engineering and the current head of the Road Safety Research Laboratory of National Center for Transportation Studies.

This is a view of the control center screen (actually comprised of several LCD screens) from the conference room of the TMC. Normally, there is a curtain screen covering the glass wall that they can raise in order to give people a view of the video screens.

Each screen can be made to show conditions at different locations and staff can control the camera view from the command center. This control allows them to pan, zoom and just about see what goes about at different locations in the city.

Cameras installed around the city are high definition and can focus and provide clear shots of license plates.

Close-up of a taxi among other videos of areas being monitored. Cameras can also focus on particular people such as a driver trying to bribe himself out of a traffic ticket.

Videos, particularly those of incidents, are recorded and archived for future reference including reviews related to road crash investigations. Streets are well-lighted to allow for clear capture of incidents at night. In the photo, a truck is observed hitting a jeepney from the rear at an intersection with light traffic.

The aftermath of a road crash incident involving a truck and a jeepney shows the latter on its side.

Dr. Sigua being briefed by TMC staff about their capabilities.

Dr. Sigua with Davao’s Mr. Roby Alabado (City Planning and Development Coordinator) and Mr. Dick Coridel (OIC of Traffic Management Center).

Major cities in the Philippines should have similar facilities for traffic monitoring and management that could also be employed for other purposes as well. The latter may include incident detection, response and management such as emergency response for medical, fire or even security-related incidents. So far, I do know that Metro Manila has two such centers – one with the MMDA and another with Makati City. Cebu has one but it badly needs upgrading including the acquisition of CCTV cameras as they prepare to also upgrade their traffic signal system that was once the most sophisticated in the country.

School traffic impacts – issues along Ortigas Ave., Part 2

I had written recently about traffic congestion along Ortigas Avenue that is due mainly to traffic generated by a private school in the area. In the previous post, the photos only show vehicles parked on the sidewalks on either side of the road. They did not show the actual traffic congestion experience. The parked vehicles seem more incidental and indirect than concrete evidence of congestion brought about by school traffic generation though they are a definite manifestations of parking generation, which is directly related to traffic generation.

Parked vehicles on the sidewalk are seen as we approached the tail of a very slow moving platoon owing to the congestion generated by an exclusive school.

Traffic jam with road capacity reduced by the parked and standing vehicles along the EDSA-bound side of Ortigas Ave. The trees are witnesses to the chronic traffic jams and help alleviate their impacts by absorbing emissions from the vehicle.

Severe congestion as we approached the school – the overpass downstream in the photo is a reference for where the school is located

The overpass bears the name of the mayor of Mandaluyong City, where this school is located and which has jurisdiction, together with the MMDA, for traffic management in the area. At the time we passed the area though, there were no enforcers in the area despite the severe congestion. Is this because they gave the responsibility (or burden) of managing traffic to the school? Perhaps there was no need to post enforcers here as congestion is a regular thing and people seem to have been conditioned with the almost daily experience.

The area at the foot of the pedestrian overpass actually functions as a pick-up and drop-off area for students of the school. As such, vehicles occupy not just the the sidewalk but also more than a lane of Ortigas Avenue. This effectively constricts traffic along this major road.

Traffic is slow along the San Juan-bound direction of Ortigas as vehicles waiting for their passengers (students of the school) are lined up and occupying the outermost and even the middle lane of the road.

This queue is not entirely attributed to traffic generation by the school but is likely due to traffic management at the EDSA-Ortigas intersection, which is signalized. If the signal setting is not optimized or if the intersection is not cleared of straggler vehicles, traffic is backed up along all the approaches to the intersection. The tall building in the background hosts DOTC’s headquarters. I wonder if our officials are taking in the congestion that occurs almost daily (weekdays) and if they are even crosses their minds how to solve this problem and others like it around the country.

Proof that congestion is along both directions of Ortigas Ave. is seen in the middle of the photo where vehicles are also backed up along the overpass ramp coming from EDSA’s northbound side. For what it’s worth, the DOTC headquarters is right along this road at the building where the 7-Eleven (sign visible in the photo) is located.

Another and even closer look of what is literally bumper-to-bumper traffic along both sides of Ortigas Avenue during the afternoon peak triggered by the exclusive school along its San Juan-bound side. Visible in the photo is the congestion along the overpass from EDSA.