The prototype vehicles for the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) project of the DOST through its PCIEERD and MIRDC were delivered last Sunday, November 25, at the test track site in UP Diliman. The two vehicles will form the train that will be mounted on the test tracks and subject to experiments to test the performance and functionality. Researchers from UP Diliman, including faculty members from its College of Engineering and College of Science, will be cooperating with the DOST to provide advise on issues that are certain to crop up once the tests are underway.
Contrary to many reports coming out that it will be an “upgrade” or “replacement” for the Ikot and Toki jeepneys currently operating inside the campus, the truth is that a Phase 2 creating a loop around the campus is not viable for the foreseeable future. For one, the system will be too expensive to build, operate and maintain for a very limited ridership that is attributed to UP Diliman, even with the increasing numbers of through trips using UP public transportation. Of course, it would be nice to have a system like this in campus but the costs cannot be covered by revenues from fares. Funds for construction (investment costs), seen from one perspective, may be of better use elsewhere where resources are in dire need to support other very important endeavors. A full system would be appropriate elsewhere and with funding coming not from the DOST or UP budgets but from airports, developers, local governments and others who can be the proponents for such systems.
AGT vehicle delivered at the test site in UP Diliman – the streamlined body was designed by DOST project staff. The skirt helps to hide the bogey, which includes the mechanism for the vehicle to pick up power from rails embedded along the guideway.
Inside the vehicle – there are few seats behind the driver’s cab to maximize space for (standing) passengers. This layout is very much similar to other AGTs and monorails including those serving airports where users would also have luggage with them.
Test tracks – the AGT guideway is elevated and stretches to almost 500 meters. For reference, the photo was taken from near the project office/power house with the CHED building along C.P. Garcia Ave visible downstream of the elevated guideway. The line of trees on the right is along the University Avenue.
While it is understandable that certain rail aficionados have become excited about the prospects of having an operational, functional AGT or monorail, the UP-AGT is really an experimental system. It is best considered as a “proof of concept” project that will hopefully encourage the development and promotion of public transport in many of our cities that seem to be mired in having unsustainable transport modes. But of course, any transit system such as this will not survive if no rationalization in transport services are implemented and this is particularly true if an AGT or monorail would have to compete directly with buses, jeepneys or tricycles.