I am involved in an inter-disciplinary research program with the Third World Studies Center and the Department of Geography of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s College of Social Science and Philosophy. I am very impressed with my co-researchers being able to find a lot of material including tons of stuff on the Manila tranvia from the National Archives of the Philippines. These are currently being scanned and electronic compilations relevant to the program will eventually be made available as part of the deliverables of the projects.
One of the materials they found was a report on a proposed monorail system in Manila. What we first thought was a single line from an old news report that researchers found turned out to be a network. Here is an excerpt of the report on the proposed monorail system in 1969.
I am posting this snapshot of the monorail report partly for readers to be able to grasp what was going on in terms of public transport planning decades ago. This hopefully allows us to have a firmer grasp of issues behind why public transportation in Metro Manila is so bad. This is given the so many opportunities we had in the past to have something that could have laid the foundation for a more efficient system. While this may be interpreted as some as fault-finding, I would rather look at it as an exercise in learning from a past where a lot of fateful decisions were made regarding both road and rail transport, many of which we now know were unfavorable to public transport and its users, the greater majority of the commuting public. Hopefully, too, this post can generate healthy discussions to point the way forward in improving public transport not only for Metro Manila but other Philippine cities as well. While we can imagine what we could have had now if such systems were realized, we can still look forward to what we can actually have (and for the next generations to benefit from) if we do act towards a better transit system for our cities.