Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Urban Transport Study in Manila Metropolitan Area (UTSMMA, 1973)

With the recent approval of JICA’s Dream Plan for Mega Manila, I thought it was timely to look back at similar plans developed for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas. At the time these plans were made, I guess they were all regarded as “dream plans” in their own ways. Let us start with what is probably the original dream plan, the Urban Transport Study in Manila Metropolitan Area (UTSMMA, 1973). The project was implemented from March 1971 to September 1973 with the assistance of the Government of Japan’s Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (OTCA), the precursor of today’s Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Being the first comprehensive study for a metropolitan area that was yet to be formally consolidated and called Metro Manila, UTSMMA set the stage for future transport studies for the metropolis. Among the study’s main recommendations is one proposing for a mass transit system restricted to railways. A Rapid Transit Railway (RTR) network was recommended in the form of subways in the inner area bound by EDSA, and elevated in the suburban areas. Brief descriptions of the proposed lines are as follows:

  • Line 1 (27.1 km) – from Construction Hill to Talon via central Quezon Boulevard, Manila downtown and the International Airport
  • Line 2 (36.0 km) – from Novaliches to Cainta via Manila downtown and Pasig
  • Line 3 (24.3 km) – Along Highway 54 (C-4): half a circle route about 12 km from Manila downtown
  • Line 4 (30.1 km) – From Marikina to Zapote via Cubao, Manila downtown and the Manila Bay area
  • Line 5 (17.6 km) – From Meycauayan to Manila downtown running between Line No. 2 and PNR
  • PNR improvement (56.4 km) – From Bocaue to Muntinglupa via Tutuban Station

The following that was posted here before in another article shows a map illustrating the recommended RTR network for the Manila Metropolitan area. (Note that the map was enhanced from the original black and white to clearly show the proposed lines back then.) MM RTR map2 UTSMMA also recognized the important roles of buses and jeepneys in the future, and recommended that these be used for feeder services once the rail systems have been constructed and operational. As a result of the study, a Feasibility Study for the Manila Rapid Transit Railway Line No. 1 was conducted and completed in June 1976. The study, which was supported by JICA, noted that “the implementation should be initiated immediately” in light of the estimated heavy traffic demand along the corridor. This project could have been the first major transport project for Metro Manila if it had been implemented. Unfortunately, despite a favorable assessment in this study, the proposed RTR Line 1 was not implemented after a contrary assessment by a subsequent study, MMETROPLAN, which is discussed in the succeeding section of this report. The estimated costs of construction of recommended transport infrastructure were provided in the Final Report of the study including indicative costs and benefits of proposed urban expressways and urban rapid transit railways. [Reference: UTSMMA, 1973 – NCTS Library] Whenever I go back to UTSMMA and the network of proposed railway lines, I can’t help but wonder what could have been one of the more efficient transport systems in Asia or even in the world. What happened? Why was this plan not realised? The answer may be found in the next big study conducted for Metro Manila that also included in much detail its land use and development plans. Next: MMETROPLAN, 1977 –

Tutok – tailgating

A common practice of motorists along Philippine roads is tailgating. This is not only common in congested traffic, when vehicles are practically “bumper-to-bumper,” but also in free flowing traffic where drivers or riders tailgate for a number of reasons (e.g., to put pressure on the one ahead of them, to display skills in following closely behind another vehicle, etc.), all of which are dumb. There is always the risk that the driver or rider of the vehicle in front will brake to slow down or stop and the driver/rider of the vehicle behind will not be able to brake in time to hit (rear-end) the one ahead. Both time (reaction, headway) and space (distance between vehicles) are factors here as driver or rider reaction times vary and will affect the outcome of the chain of events should the leading vehicles suddenly slow down for any reason.

IMG09158-20140815-0835A passenger can only scratch her head as she tries to get back her fare from the conductor after alighting from a jeepney involved in a collision with another vehicle. Meanwhile, the driver of an owner-type jeepney inspects the damage to his vehicle as the driver of the jeepney that hit him looks on.

I was just explaining about Stopping Sight Distance (SSD) to a class of senior students and SSD very much applies to tailgating. Given varying traffic conditions along the roads, tailgating compromises the safe distance between vehicles and therefore too often leads to situations that lead to road crashes. Rear-end collisions in turn often lead to traffic congestion and raise the costs brought about by such incidents. In most cases, this happens because authorities are unable or incapable of managing the aftermath of the incidents where parties involved often argue in the middle of the road without regard for other road users plights. These cases need to be resolved quickly and efficiently in order to remove these obstacles from the road.

EDSA: Taft to Tramo

The EDSA-Taft Ave. intersection was in the news a few weeks ago due to the MRT3 train that derailed and overshot the end of the line along EDSA. Being a major intersection for roads as well as for rail (MRT3 and LRT1), it is a very crowded area. Nearby, too, is the Redemptorist church in Baclaran that attracts a lot of people especially during Wednesdays. Following are a few photos of the area showing the conditions on the pedestrian overpasses and at street level.

IMG08788-20140610-1649The pedestrian overpass at EDSA-Taft is also a mall of sorts given the merchandise being sold at informal shops at the overpass.

IMG08789-20140610-1649The overpass connects to the EDSA-MRT 3 Taft Ave. Station. This is the MRT 3’s end station and the overpass system connects the MRT 3 Taft Ave. Station with the LRT Line 1 EDSA Station. The connection was not and is still not a smooth one, which has been the subject of criticism from a lot of people.

IMG08790-20140610-1649The overpass allows people to walk around this large intersection

IMG08791-20140610-1650Pedicabs freely travel along this stretch of EDSA between Taft and Tramo on lanes designated for public utility buses and clearly violating regulations regarding what vehicles are allowed on EDSA. You can also see in the photo a cart full of merchandise being pushed along the curbside lane.

IMG08792-20140610-1650A motor tricycle ferrying passengers along EDSA just before Tramo (that’s the street above which is an overpass from EDSA southbound).