Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Francisco Bangoy International Airport revisited

The number of views for Davao’s international airport spiked a few days ago and from the responses to the posting on Facebook, it’s clear that people are appreciative of good infrastructure provided to them. People in other cities expressed similar or related feelings in relation to the post with many expressing that they hoped their city could have a good airport. Well, we know at least that Iloilo and Bacolod have good airports in Cabatuan and Silay that are now serving international flights as well. Hopefully, we’ll have more airports upgraded like Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Legaspi and Puerto Princesa that are all very crowded as more people fly to these cities including tourists whose numbers are steadily increasing. Cebu’s airport expansion is up for bidding and Northern Mindanao will soon have a large airport opening at Laguindingan. Cagayan De Oro’s Lumbia Airport will eventually be phased out. Meanwhile, here are a few more photos on DVO from a recent trip I had.

IMG05924-20130423-1649Check-in counter for Philippine Airlines passengers

IMG05925-20130423-1649Check-in counters for PAL and Cebu Pacific

IMG05926-20130423-1652The spacious terminal is desirable for large cities like Davao and generally serves the entire region.

IMG05927-20130423-1657Cebu Pacific’s self service terminal that I first saw in Davao and now is also in other airports as well

IMG05928-20130423-1658The check-in counters as seen from the escalator as I went up to the departure level

IMG05929-20130423-1738The corridor to the pre-departure area Gates 1 and 2 of the terminal

IMG05930-20130423-1743View of PAL Airbus A320 at the airport

IMG05932-20130423-1754Spacious pre-departure area at the airport

IMG05934-20130423-1902Another look at the spacious pre-departure area at Davao’s airport – I assume that the area can become full if the aircraft happens to be a widebody like the B747 or A330.

More on airports soon…

Poverty Statistics in the Philippines

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippines recently released poverty statistics as of the first semester of 2012. The report is based on the outcomes of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in July 2012. Both agencies are under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). The stats on poverty incidence are shown in the following link:

NSCB – Poverty Statistics.

In relation to these poverty figures, the NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan issued the following statement:


I am curious to see how much of family expenditures go to transport. Clearly, the state of the country’s transportation system is a significant factor in development and the government’s initiatives towards inclusive growth will not prosper if we continue to have inefficient transport across all modes for both people and goods.

More on this later…

Level up on buses in the Philippines

I chanced upon the demonstration run of an articulated bus for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and participants of a workshop on crowd-sourcing that was being conducted that day. After seeing the interiors of the bus, I decided to ride in a vehicle following the bus to take a few photos of the vehicle and also catch the reactions of people along the street who might be seeing an articulated bus for the first time. The demo run (and others in the future) should give people an idea of what road transport still has to offer in terms of vehicles that could carry more people.

artic bus1Articulated bus approaching the EDSA-Ortigas intersection

artic bus2Articulated bus manufactured by MAN

artic bus3Inside the bus, there is space for more passengers than 2 regular buses can accommodate

artic bus4I like the look on people along the streets that the bus passed along. Some were scratching their heads and others had to have a second look (double take) at the long vehicle.

Articulated buses are not new to public transport operations. Singapore’s SMRT operates many of these buses along busy routes. Below is a photo of an articulated bus passing in front of the Central Fire Station across the Funan IT Mall.

IMG01256-20120115-1125SMRT articulated bus passing in front of the Central Fire Station in Singapore

There are other types of buses in service in cities in other countries such as double deckers, and bi-articulated buses (equivalent of about 2.5 regular buses). These buses require skilled driving to ensure safe operations including maneuvering at intersections and terminals. The buses should be suitable for routes with passenger demands between those requiring regular buses and rail transit like routes that can be designated for bus rapid transit (BRT), and with scheduled stops. I am quite optimistic about the future of public transport in Metro Manila and other cities where buses should play a significant role for mass transport.

Luzon Avenue Flyover

The Luzon Avenue flyover spanning the width of Commonwealth Avenue is now open to two way traffic. Previously, only the northbound side was open, allowing vehicles to cross Commonwealth from Tandang Sora Ave./Katipunan Ave. to Luzon Ave. and towards Congressional Avenue. I took a few photos of the flyover and the vicinity of Luzon Avenue en route to NLEX a few days ago.

IMG05830-20130415-0926The Luzon Avenue flyover has a total of 4 lanes, divided by a median island.

IMG05831-20130415-0926The lamp posts indicate a well lighted road during night time. The pedestrian walkways on either side are quite narrow and I think the designers of the flyover could have widened this feature of the facility.

IMG05832-20130415-0927A view of Commonwealth Avenue from the flyover.

IMG05833-20130415-0927Along the other end of the flyover is Luzon Avenue, which has been widened to accommodate the flyover and the at-grade sections connecting to the QMC-bound side of Commonwealth Avenue.

IMG05834-20130415-0927A pedestrian overpass was constructed at the foot of the Luzon Ave. flyover so pedestrians will not cross at this critical part of the flyover when vehicles would typically be picking up speed as they descend (or ascend on the other side) the flyover. There are still construction work along the northbound side of Luzon Avenue.

IMG05835-20130415-0927Luzon Avenue, which is a 6-lane, 2-way road divided by a median, is quite crowded with either side of the road occupied mostly by informal settlers. There is also an informal wet market (talipapa) along the road.

IMG05836-20130415-0928The pavement is elevated compared to the land on either side of the road. There are stores and shops set up by those living along the road.

IMG05837-20130415-0928Side streets are narrow and could probably accommodate only cars or small vehicles like tricycles (also shown in the photo traveling along Luzon Ave.

IMG05838-20130415-0928Some stalls are just along the street like this fruit stand that’s already on the carriageway. The photo also shows a better view of a side street with parked vehicles along one side of the road.

IMG05839-20130415-0928Approach to Congressional Avenue – there is another pedestrian overpass near the junction with Congressional. Note the height of the plant box on the median that is designed to discourage or minimize jaywalking across Luzon Ave.

IMG05840-20130415-0929Water works at the junction of Luzon Ave. and Congressional Ave. Luzon Ave. continues as a narrow 2-lane street towards the direction of Bgy. Holy Spirit.

UP Village transformation

UP Teachers Village in Quezon City is a good example of a residential area that has been transformed over a few years. This transformation was enabled mainly by its streets, particularly Maginhawa Street, being open to general traffic. Teachers Village roads are often used as short cuts between major roads like Commonwealth Avenue and C-5/Katipunan (via C.P. Garcia Street), and Elliptical Avenue, Kalayaan Avenue and V. Luna. Due to both significant foot and vehicle traffic, what used to be homes along the streets have become restaurants, shops, offices, or even schools. There are many cases of homeowners who have found their houses less livable due to the noise and air pollution attributed to traffic (Note: There are so many tricycles in the area.). These have sold their property to people who used it instead for business. Unfortunately, despite the approval of the local government of the changes in land use, most establishments clearly have not satisfied basic building code requirements such as those for parking and pedestrian facilities.

IMG05790-20130408-1656On-street parking along both sides of Maginhawa Street in Teachers Village

IMG05791-20130408-1656Schools and commercial establishments like restaurants and shops are found along Maginhawa Street. Most do not have adequate parking spaces for customers.

Maginhawa Street has been widened to accommodate more vehicular traffic. Unfortunately, widening the road has only led to more on-street parking as shown in the preceding photos. People also are often forced to walk along the carriageway because because sidewalks are usually blocked, with some establishments using the space for al frresco set-ups. Developments need to be inspected to check if they comply with basic requirements such as parking and pedestrian facilities. Development and land use changes can be justified but proponents must be made to comply with the minimum requirements of the National Building Code in order to mitigate potential impacts to the community.

Rizal Avenue – Part 2: Tayuman to Pampanga Street

In the last post on Rizal Avenue, the featured photos show conditions under the LRT Line 1, which included visual evidence of certain issues like on-street parking, poor lighting and even sanitation (i.e., garbage) along the corridor. This post features more of the same and perhaps worse in some cases that are used as proof of the blight caused in part by the LRT superstructure. I say in part because LRT Line 1 is not wholly to blame for problems under and around it. Local governments and the private sector share responsibility for the decline of the areas within the direct influence of the rail line. Napabayaan. But of course, this does not absolve proponents of the LRT Line 1 for poor station design.

IMG_5211Approach to Tayuman Station along the northbound side of Rizal Avenue.

IMG_5212Tayuman Station – shown in the upper part of the photo is one end of the northbound platform.

IMG_5213Underneath the station, jeepneys clog the lanes as they load/unload passengers. LRT Line 1 stations are poorly designed for intermodal transfers (e.g., LRT to jeepney, LRT to bus, etc.).

IMG_5214Tayuman Road is a busy street in Manila that’s served by jeepneys connecting to major streets like Lacson Avenue to the east and Abad Santos and Juan Luna to the west. The photo shows a view to the east of the LRT Tayuman Station.

IMG_5217Approach to the junction with Herrera Street

IMG_5218Approach to Blumentritt Station – the station is named after Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian who was a close friend of the national hero Jose Rizal. The street leads to a large public market close to the station (near the intersection) that is also named after the fellow and one of the more crowded markets in the metropolis. There are many jeepney lines with Blumentritt as part of  their routes.

IMG_5219Birds and other creatures being sold as pets around Blumentritt – many have been painted to attract children and other buyers curious at the colored birds.

IMG_5220Vendors line the Rizal Avenue, Blumentritt and the other side streets in the area, which is usually crowded no matter what day of the week it is.

IMG_5221Angry birds? A closer look reveals the birds as chicken chicks colored by the vendors to attract interest. Sadly, many of these do not survive to become full grown chickens and children (and adults) will be disappointed to discover later that the color comes off pretty quick when the chicks come in contact with water.

IMG_5222There is a PNR Blumentritt Station and unless there’s been some radical clean-up of the area, this is pretty much what you’d see around the station – garbage, dirt, informal settlers and other characters. The building behind the station is a public school.

IMG_5224The PNR Blumentritt Station has two platforms on either side of the double track. Security is quite lax and people, including children, cross the tracks freely. Fortunately, train service frequencies are quite low (about 1 per hour) so the risk of getting hit by a train is also low. The photo shows the view to the east of Rizal Avenue.

IMG_5225On the left side of Rizal Avenue is a scene where people are oblivious to the railways with some even doing their cooking between the tracks.

IMG_5226Blumentritt Avenue is a very crowded street with a public school (building at right) just across the public market (at left). There are many vendors lined along the street and people as just about everywhere and without regard to vehicular traffic.

IMG_5227Traffic congestion along Rizal Avenue is attributed mainly to the market and median barriers were constructed to reduce pedestrian crossings anywhere along the road. Commercial establishments line either side of Rizal Avenue, basically contributing to congestion in the area.

IMG_5228Commercial establishments plus customers plus paratransit equal to traffic congestion

IMG_523016A busy side street in the Blumentritt area – there are no sidewalks so pedestrians and motor vehicles mix it up along the road.

IMG_5231Bulacan Street serves as an informal terminal for jeepneys. The road appears to be newly paved but there are no sidewalks and tents are found along the road often bearing the names of politicians sponsoring the tents for various purposes such as wakes and parties.

IMG_5232Intersection with Pampanga Street, just before Rizal Avenue and the LRT line turns towards Aurora Boulevard and proceed to Caloocan City and Monumento.

More on Rizal Avenue in future post…

MNTC Donation to UP-NCTS Road Safety Research Laboratory

The Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) recently donated software and equipment to the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Road Safety Research Laboratory (RSRL) at the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS). Gracing the Turnover Ceremony were no less than MNTC Chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and UP System President Alfredo E. Pascual. Dr. Hilario Sean O. Palmiano, the current NCTS Director, welcomed guests from MNTC and its parent firm Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation as well as from UP and the media. Dr. Ricardo DG. Sigua provided a background on the RSRL and how the donated equipment would help in the implementation of researches. The following photos show some highlights of the Turnover Ceremony last April 11, 2013.

19083_10151370431552401_1513867965_nUP President Alfredo E. Pascual shaking the hands of MNTC Chair Manuel V. Pangilinan after they delivered messages during the Turnover Ceremony held at the NCTS. Looking on are Road Safety Laboratory Head Dr. Ricardo Sigua and NCTS Director Sean Palmiano.

61504_10151370431907401_875100796_nUnveiling of the plaque by (L-R) Dr. Ric Sigua, MNTC President & CEO Rodrigo Franco, UP Pres. Alfredo Pascual, MNTC Chair Manny Pangilinan, Dir. Sean Palmiano, and Metro Pacific President & CEO Ramoncito Fernandez

553007_10151370432177401_1014229657_nDr. Sigua demonstrating VISSIM, one of the software donated by MNTC to UP-NCTS

524498_10151370432072401_265366186_nMNTC Chair MVP making a point about the microsimulation demo as UP Pres. Pascual looks on.

485312_10151330113741805_1859125652_nTarps on display showing a list of donated software and equipment, photos of technical cooperation and capacity building between NCTS and MNTC/MPTC, and the advocacies of NCTS.

The following links are for news items on the turnover:

AKSYON TV       ANDAR NG MGA BALITA     Road Safety Lab binuksan para sa pagaaral ng kaligtasan sa kalsada

TV5     AKSYON  Dalawang aksidente kada minuto nangyayari sa buong mundo
ayon sa pag aaral

[Note: To view the videos, you must have Microsoft Silverlight installed on your computer.]

Night time congestion along C-5

Traffic congestion along Circumferential Road 5 is experienced practically throughout the day with the worst congestion along the southbound direction during the mornings between the Riverbanks Road in Quezon City and Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City, and the northbound direction between Bonifacio Global City and Eastwood from noon to nighttime. The following photos taken by my wife as I fetched her one night from her office shows the traffic jam along C-5 as we turned from the flyover past Market! Market! towards the highway.

imageCongestion along the C-5 northbound is a regular thing during the weekdays from the afternoon to late at night. While apps like the MMDA’s Traffic Navigator and Waze allow us to have an idea of how congested C-5 is during such periods, the actual experience is much worse than what many of us can just imagine from the apps.

image_2As far as the eye could see – congestion in the form of the taillights of vehicles along the northbound side of C-5 indicate just how many people are caught in traffic from Taguig all the way to Pasig and beyond. The giant billboards from Kalayaan Avenue to Pasig Boulevard including those seen along the bridge crossing the Pasig River. Most of these people are office workers coming from Makati and Global City and heading home to Quezon City, Pasig, and the towns of Rizal. After 7 PM, trucks add to the traffic

Many people are asking if there is a solution in sight for congestion along C-5. To be frank, there is none in the immediate future. There are proposals to introduce a public transport system along the corridor with one option being a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and another an elevated rail transit line. The BRT line is a recommendation of a Pre-FS for Metro Manila BRT conducted around 6 years ago though there was a proposal for a bus system (Philtrak) along the same corridor back in the late 80’s and pursued for some time during the 90’s. Not much have been done towards realizing any of these proposals. An efficient mass transit system along the corridor could encourage people to shift from private to public transport and help reduce vehicular traffic along C-5 considering that even as I write this post, vehicle ownership is increasing in Metro Manila and its environs and this could only mean more congestion along C-5 and other roads.

Ferry to Marinduque

A friend, Dr. Jonathan Salvacion, posted some photos of a trip he made to Marinduque. I noticed a couple of photos showing the ferry their group took between the Port of Lucena and Marinduque Island. After getting his permission to use the photos, I am post both here to show the typical ferry used in inter-island, roll-on roll-off (RORO) transport in the Philippines. Being an archipelago, providing safe and efficient inter-island transport is a continuing challenge for the country. A lot of progress, though, has been made regarding infrastructure and services. The improvements include the nautical highway system comprised of highways and seaports where the past and present administrations have invested heavily during the past decade.

Ferry to Marinduque1Passengers boarding the ferry to Marinduque – the port is designed with a ramp for vehicles to easily “roll-on/roll-off” the vessel [Photo credit: Jonathan Salvacion]

Ferry to Marinduque2Inside the ferry, vehicles are parked while passengers are seated above on deck. [Photo credit: Jonathan Salvacion]

Streets of Olongapo: Rizal Avenue

Olongapo City is located in the Province of Zambales, the only city in that province, and beside the Subic Freeport. It is a pioneer in public transport service innovations in the form of the first initiative on the color-coding of jeepneys according to their routes. Despite what seemed to be forever being linked to the Freeport in terms of economic development, the city has enjoyed continued growth and is currently experiencing more challenges attributed to this growth. Among these challenges are those pertaining to traffic congestion and public transport services for the city. A Transportation and Traffic Management Plan Study was conducted by UP Diliman through the National Center for Transportation Studies and is up for formal adoption of the city.

Following are photos taken along the city’s main street, Rizal Avenue, where many of the city’s transport and traffic problems are manifested.

IMG02223-20120412-1438Cyclist pedaling along Rizal Avenue beside a yellow jeepney taking passengers at the designated stop at curbside. Downstream are parked vehicles along the road.

IMG02224-20120412-1438More parked vehicles at either side of Rizal Avenue effectively reducing road capacity for the 4-lane street.

IMG02225-20120412-1439On-street parking is a problem for the city as there are few, if any, off-street parking facilities in the city. On-street parking turnover is quite low since many of the parked vehicles are not clients or customers but establishment owners or managers.

IMG02226-20120412-1439Most of Rizal Avenue is undivided but there are median barriers along the section in front of the public market to reduce jaywalking among pedestrians.

IMG02230-20120412-1440The section in front of city hall – just across are many commercial establishments and on-street parking.

IMG02256-20120412-1544Another view of the Rizal Avenue, this time along the westbound side, with the the market on the left side. The yellow jeepneys are quite conspicuous and remind me of the UP Ikot jeepneys.

IMG02258-20120412-1545A monument to the Ulo ng Apo, from which the name of the city is said to be derived from, is right in the middle of a rotunda at a major intersection along Rizal Avenue. Around the rotunda are commercial establishments and a major provincial bus terminal.

IMG02262-20120412-1547There are designated stops for jeepneys along the avenue but these are often crowded out by parked vehicles. As a result, jeepneys could not maneuver properly and end up unloading/loading passengers in the middle of the road.

IMG02263-20120412-1549On-street parking along curves tend to impede the flow of traffic. There are also issues where electric posts like the one shown in the photo have not been transferred, posing risks to vehicular traffic.

IMG02265-20120412-1550Another example of a designated jeepney stop along the avenue where parked vehicles constrict maneuvering space for jeepneys.

IMG02266-20120412-1550A monument to the volunteers of Olongapo during the Mt. Pinatubo episode after the closure of the U.S. Naval Base in what is now a Freeport. I wonder if the building under construction in the photo has enough parking spaces for the traffic it generates.

IMG02267-20120412-1550More jeepneys and more on-street parking – there is a perception that there are too many (oversupply) of jeepneys. Note though that most PUJs in Olongapo are not the bigger 20 to 24 seater jeepneys we see in Metro Manila but the older, 16 to 18 seaters like the ones shown in the photo.

IMG02268-20120412-1550Some on-street parking spaces are “reserved” by establishments. I didn’t mention that on-street parking is free of charge and such situation probably encourages longer parking durations. Perhaps the city should seriously consider parking fees to reduce long-term parking and ensure smoother flow of traffic along its streets. There are examples of these parking schemes in other cities including Makati City that Olongapo can adopt and adjust.