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Rationalizing public transport in the Philippines

January 2013


I got a copy of the recent study “Development of a Mega Manila Public Transportation Planning Support System” conducted by UP Diliman’s National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The main outcome of the study was a planning support system that includes an updated database of bus, jeepney and UV Express routes for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas (collectively called Mega Manila), and a calibrated travel demand model for the region that is supposed to be used by the DOTC and the LTFRB in transport planning including the rationalization of public transport in the region. Among the notable recommendations for addressing public transport issues is the following on the classification of routes according to passenger demand, which I quote from the study:

“…routes and modes may be classified and prioritized as follows:

  • Routes with Very High Passenger Demand [>160,000 passengers per day] – shall be served by high capacity modes such as rail-based transit or Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) with passing lanes.
  • Routes with High Passenger Demand [100,000 to 160,000 passengers per day] – shall be served by high capacity vehicles such as Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) without passing lanes;
  • Routes with Medium Passenger Demand [10,000 to 100,000 passengers per day] – shall be served by PUVs with 60 or less passengers/seats but not less than 22 passengers (excluding driver) such as buses, CLRVs with more than 22 passengers/seats (including driver), or with 90 passengers/seats in the case of double decker or articulated buses;
  • Routes with Low Passenger Demand [not exceeding 10,000 passengers per day] – shall be served by PUVs with less than 22 passengers/seats (including driver) such as jeepneys and other paratransit modes.

Under this principle, high capacity modes would have priority in terms of CPC allocation and transit right of way in a particular route over lower capacity modes with the exception of taxis. The latter, after all, operate as private cars rather than PUVs with fixed routes.

Applications to operate bus and/or minibus service in jeepney routes can be considered, but not the other way around. Similarly, bus service applications can be considered in minibus routes but not otherwise.

Based on the analysis of routes, the establishment of public transportation routes and the corresponding modes of services may be based on the following criteria:

• Passenger demand patterns and characteristics
• Road network configuration
• Corresponding road functions (road hierarchy)
• Traffic capacities and
• Reasonable profits for operation of at most 13% ROI.”
[Source: DOTC (2012) Development of a Mega Manila Public Transportation Planning Support System, Final Report.]

An interesting figure in the report is an illustration of how services can be simplified using buses and rail transport as an example. The following figure shows two maps: one showing the plotted EDSA bus routes (left) and another showing a more consolidated (and rational) route network for buses complementing existing and proposed rail mass transit systems.

Simplify1Simplifying bus transport services (source: DOTC, 2012)

What are not included in the figure above are the prospects for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems for Metro Manila. Since the Final Report was submitted in mid 2012, there have been many discussions for BRT in the metropolis and current efforts are now focused on the assessment of a BRT line along Ortigas Avenue. The World Bank is supporting the evaluation of a route between Tikling Junction near the boundary of Antipolo and Taytay (Rizal Province) and Aurora Boulevard. There are also informal talks of a BRT line along Commonwealth Avenue but that would have implications on the proposed MRT-7 along the same corridor. Nevertheless, such mass transit systems have long been required for Metro Manila and their construction have been overdue. A more efficient public transport system will definitely have tremendous impacts on how we commute between our homes, workplaces, schools and other destinations. Long distances can easily be addressed by better transport options and could actually help solve issues pertaining to informal settlements, relocations and housing. That topic, of course, deserves an article devoted to this relationship between transport and housing. Abangan!


  1. the information you provided was very useful because of your help. thank you. lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails

  2. […] In most cases, the best time to evaluate a traffic policy or scheme is NOT during its first days or weeks of implementation but after a significant time, say at least a month, after it was implemented. This is because the stakeholders, the people involved would take some time to adjust to any scheme or policy being implemented. This adjustment period will vary according to the magnitude or scope of the scheme/policy and can be quite “painful” to many who have gotten used to the old ways. Usually, a lot of comments and criticisms are quite emotional but it is clear that the collective sentiment is the result years or decades of poor transport services and fumbling by government agencies. Transport in Metro Manila is already quite complicated with routes overlapping and services competing with each other for the same passengers. Perhaps it is time to simplify transport while also in the process of optimizing and rationalizing services. I have written about this in this previous post. […]

  3. Leezl says:

    You have great ideas! I wish I could cite you properly in the paper that I’m making. Your blogs should be published in the newspapers as well. I haven’t read much about your blogs yet, except for the ones about traffic and related topics. I also don’t know much about you which might be evident in some of your blogs. But I think you work in a government office for having access to some reading materials. I hope the office you are in listens to your ideas 🙂

    • d0ctrine says:

      Thanks. I’m with the UP College of Engineering and part of the National Center for Transport Studies. I just want to remain somewhat anonymous so I don’t publish my name here. The blog is a nice outlet for me while keeping people guessing who it is who’s writing these things.

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