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Yearly Archives: 2012

Suvarnabhumi Airport check-in

I forgot to post a few more photos of my recent trip to Bangkok where I was able to explore its large Suvarnabhumi International Airport. I will write more about the airport in installments to describe the airports features in more detail. For this post, the following photos show the entrance, check-in and pre-immigration areas. Taking photos at the immigration areas is not allowed so I didn’t take a chance to take photos there as I might be accosted by authorities.

IMG04412-20120928-1256Entrance to the airport from the driveway – we took a taxi from our hotel. There were four of us and some had a little shopping so it wasn’t convenient to take the train to the airport.

IMG04413-20120928-1256Greetings from His Royal Majesty, the King of Thailand – the Thais are proud and very respectful of their king.

IMG04415-20120928-1302Check-in counters for the full service airlines – we traveled via Thai Airways, which is currently one of the best airlines in the world.

IMG04414-20120928-1257Ticketing counters for budget airlines – I found it quite unusual that the ticketing counters for some budget airlines like AirAsia was along what should have been a wide corridor leading from the entrance to the check-in counters.

IMG04421-20120928-1313Thai Airways check-in – I had already checked-in prior to arriving at the airport for my return trip, thanks to the online check-in feature of the airline, so I just had to drop off my luggage for tagging. Others who were just checking-in to get their seats and drop off their luggage had to go through the usual procedure.

IMG04417-20120928-1305Information board for departing passengers provide directions

IMG04422-20120928-1314After checking-in, people have the option to shop, eat or proceed to immigration to enter the pre-departure area where there are more shops, restaurants and the airline lounges.

IMG04416-20120928-1303Sentinel? – among the things I like about Suvarnabhumi are the features such as this that define the airport in as far as character is concerned. It is a modern airport and yet they were able to infuse Thai culture wherever its possible. A similar case may be found in Bali and I hope they’re able to retain that airport’s character with their new terminal (under construction when I was in Bali last February 2012).

More on Suvarnabhumi Airport later!

New Director of UP’s National Center for Transportation Studies

The National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of the University of the Philippines (UP) has a new head. Dr. Hilario Sean O. Palmiano formally took over the reins of the NCTS from Dr. Jose Regin F. Regidor. Dr. Palmiano is an Assistant Professor of the Institute of Civil Engineering of the UP College of Engineering. He obtained his doctorate and master’s degrees from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and his baccalaureate degree in Civil Engineering from UP Diliman. His researches are mainly on road safety and non-motorized transport.

ncts staffStaff and Fellows of the National Center for Transportation Studies with its new Director, Dr. Sean Palmiano, in the center of the front row. Also in the photo are former Directors, Dr. Ricardo Sigua, Dr. Hussein “Tho” Lidasan and Dr. Regin Regidor. At center of the 2nd row is Dr. Mario Delos Reyes, current Dean of UP’s School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP).

Still know nothing about me

Enjoying the performances at the Sting concert the other night, I couldn’t help but remember the couple of pingbacks this blog recently received from some hecklers (or trolls?) who obviously didn’t understand what I wrote about the AGT currently being tested at the UP Diliman campus. Calling me a “so-called” expert in transport gets my attention but then I’m not the sort of person who’s insecure about my experiences, talents and skills so I’d rather dedicate a song to these fellows. Just a tip… try to read the other articles in the blog to better understand how and why I write about topics on transport and traffic before you make your conclusions about what’s been written.

On pedestrian overpasses again

Pedestrian overpasses in Metro Manila are of various designs. The older ones are mostly concrete structures that were not designed to consider the needs of senior citizens or persons with disabilities (PWDs). Often the stairs are relatively steep and each step can be quite high. More recent ones, particularly those constructed by the MMDA in the last administration were steel structures. The first generation where constructed similarly as their concrete versions, with little consideration to the elderly and the physically-challenged. Many of these ¬†overpasses even got flak from women’s groups as the steps featured slits through which women can be taken advantage of by peeping toms. And so some of the “offending” overpasses had their stairs retrofitted to provide some cover for people using these facilities.

A good feature of more recent overpasses constructed has been ramps that allow easier access by persons with disabilities and cyclists. Most new overpasses in Metro Manila also have less steeper stairs and others even have landings to allow people to have some pause while climbing up or down the overpass. Following are a few photos of overpasses along Marcos Highway including one connecting a major shopping mall to the LRT Line 2 Santolan Station.

Overpass along Marcos Highway in Pasig City featuring a ramp that can also be used by cyclists and persons with disabilities.

“Conventional” overpass along Marcos Highway – there are no ramps but the stairs are not as steep as the older ones.

Overpass connecting a major shopping mall to the LRT Line 2 Santolan Station

While such overpasses are necessary along wide roads with heavy motor vehicle traffic, similar facilities are not usually recommended for narrower streets where motorized traffic is manageable. There are discussions now that call for pedestrians to have the right of way along streets. Such discussions have basis given pedestrians attempting to cross at designated areas (definitely not the jaywalkers) have difficulty crossing as motor vehicles disregard them, with some seemingly attempting to sideswipe people (nananadya?). The rule should be that once a pedestrian steps on the pavement at a zebra crossing or crosswalk, vehicles should give way to them. Many drivers and riders are oblivious to this rule and it is not enforced by the MMDA or police. They should, in order to effect behavior change in motorists and to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Better air quality conference

The Better Air Quality 2012 Conference comes back to Hong Kong this year and is an annual event organized by the Clean Air Asia, which was formerly the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia), attended by government leaders, policymakers, NGOs, the academe, private companies and other stakeholders. It is actually my first time to attend the conference though colleagues have participated in the past. This year I am participating as a transport expert and will be involved in two events – a BAQ pre-event and a session during the conference itself.

The pre-event to be held at the Hotel Nikko is on “Long Term Impacts of Low Emission Transport Policies and Actions in ASEAN” while the session in the conference is on “Transport, Energy and Emissions in 2050: Implications for Asia.” These are related as they are part of the same project implemented and supported by CAI-Asia, the Institution for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS) and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). There are five of us from various ASEAN universities including friends from Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia), University of Malaya (Malaysia) and Thammasat University (Thailand). I’m looking forward to a very productive conference and will post again soon about this project that we have been working on since last year.

IMG05008-20121203-0633Metro Manila smog visible in the background of this photo of our plane to Hong Kong

Sound bites on transport and traffic

If there was one thing I both dreaded and enjoyed during my 6-year stint as head of UP’s National Center for Transportation Studies, it is granting interviews to the media. My predecessors warned me about how some media outfits have been notorious for editing interviews to suit their needs. In certain cases, they are alleged to have spliced recordings that if taken as is would have been boring or not quite informative in order to have material that were more sensational. There are features, for example, where it seems interviewees were responding to the each other’s opinions making it look like they were arguing. And then there are those where certain statements are taken out of context when cut from a long explanation in the actual interview that took place.

I think I tried my best to be careful about what I said and how I explained or related things in my interviews. I looked at interviews as a way the Center could reach out and advance its advocacies. These were opportunities to spread the message of sustainable transport, to educate and inform officials and the public about what we should aspire and work hard towards achieving in transport and traffic. I think we had to be both progressive and aggressive with our messages because it was our duty, our responsibility not just to do research and train people but also to inform and educate people about sustainable transport. Popular mass media is an effective way to do this and we should be engaging but careful about our messages in order to be constructive and fair.

The last news interview I had before finally being relieved of being holdover Director for a month after my term ended was with GMA News. I like this interview about traffic congestion because I was able to put in some of the ideas that people in the forefront of sustainable transport have been preaching and practicing. These include the truth that in developed countries and cities, the wealthy take public transportation and that in order to improve public transportation, decision makers should themselves experience commuting.

These are not new ideas and I have to be clear that these were not my original ideas but those that I have come to embrace and advocate. I truly believe that if we don’t take public transportation, walk or cycle, we can’t really have a clear picture of what our cities need in order to solve the traffic mess and come up with services that are safe, efficient, inclusive and equitable.

The feature appearing on Jessica Soho’s State of the Nation on Channel 11 from the GMA News website.

The same report that appeared in the primetime 24 Oras:

Special lectures on Traffic Engineering and ITS

The National Center for Transportation Studies hosted a series of lectures by a visiting professor last November 27 and 28, 2012. The lectures were delivered by Dr. Takashi OGUCHI, Professor, Department of Human and Social Systems and the Advanced Mobility Research Center of the Institute of Industrial Science of the University of Tokyo. Dr. Oguchi is currently a Visiting Professor under the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and is hosted by the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) of the UP Diliman College of Engineering.

The lecture on Nov. 27 was on Traffic Engineering and was well attended by students, UP staff and guests from government agencies. Dr. Oguchi lectured on the basic concepts of traffic flow theory including bottleneck phenomena.

Dr. Oguchi talking about traffic congestion

The NCTS Toyota Training Room was full with participants including students, staff and guests from government agencies.

Dr. Oguchi explaining about the difference between time mean speed and space mean speed using an illustrated example.

The lecture on Nov. 28 was on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

Dr. Ric Sigua of the ICE introduces Dr. Oguchi before the latter’s lecture. Like the previous lecture, the venue was full with attendees from UP and government agencies.

Dr. Oguchi also spoke about the ITS World Congress to be held in Tokyo next year.

Dr. Oguchi fields a question from Dr. Eric Cruz of the ICE during the open forum right after the lecture.