Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Another look at Suvarnabhumi Airport – departure, Part 3

Here are the rest of the photos for this series on Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Here’s another look at some of the shops inside the terminal

Here is a view of the grand display at the departure concourse after you clear immigration.

For those who did their shopping in Thailand, VAT refund is available at the airport. Just make sure you kept your receipts.

King Power duty free shops

Information boards 

I like to say that a highlight of my recent travel to Bangkok was enjoying mango with sticky rice at the airport. Bangkok is famous for its street food and this is comfort food for me.

More shops greet you on the way to the boarding gates. These are actually the last ones prior to the boarding gates and present the last chance for some shopping.

A view of one of the piers (there are 6) of the airport terminal.

Moving walkways help passengers get to the boarding gates along the long piers emanating from the main terminal building. But if you want to have some exercise and increase your step count then you might opt to do some brisk or relaxed walking.

There is always these cultural-religious elements inside this modern terminal that remind you that you are in Thailand.

I enjoyed my mango with sticky rice while waiting for my boarding call.

Ramp to the pre-boarding lounge before the gate

 

I’m looking forward to traveling to Cebu soon. Although the new terminal is for international flights, I hope to get some photos from the tarmac. And who knows if there is a chance to take a few opportunistic shots of the interior?

Another look at Suvarnabhumi Airport – departure, Part 2

Previously, I posted on my arrival at the airport prior to my return to Manila. Here’s a continuation with more photos of the terminal at the departure level of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Display depicting a temple greeting people as they enter the terminal

Travelers check the information board for their designated airline check-in counters

Direction signs and luggage wrapping services at the airport

Somebody said it is easy to get lost in a terminal this spacious.

Just follow the signs and the information boards

Here’s a closer look at one of the information boards showing departing flight information such as the status of outbound flights and the designated check-in counters.

Among my favourites at Suvarnabhumi Airport are these sentinel-like figures “watching over” the busy airport.

Thai Airways check-in counters designated for my flight back to Manila – there were no queues as there were more than enough counters and staff to handle passengers as of the time I checked-in. It helped that I checked-in online so I went directly to the bag-drop counters for my luggage and my boarding pass.

Going up the escalator for the final airport security check and the immigration counters, I took this photo of the spacious terminal.

Here’s another shot just before I placed my phone in my backpack prior to the security check.

Upon clearing immigration, one is greeted by yet another display. I already featured this in previous (old) posts on the airport where I showed some close-ups.

The ways to the boarding gates are lined up with shops.

Here are more shops along the way.

There are the usual souvenir shops, boutiques, and the cafes and restaurants for those who need refreshments.

More photos in the last instalment of this series!

Another look at Suvarnabhumi Airport – departure, Part 1

My recent trip to Bangkok allowed me to take more photos of Suvarnabhumi Airport. I already posted on my arrival at the airport and this time, I am posting on my departure. The following photos were taken as we approached the airport and upon my entry to the terminal.

On the elevated expressway link to the international airport. The signs are obviously in Thai.

A view of the control tower

The taxi driver proceeds towards the departure level driveway to the left of the expressway link. The exit ramp to the right is for vehicles heading towards the arrival level driveway.

Speed limit for this section is 40 kph.

The airport terminal is at left and at the foreground is the multi-level parking facility

After alighting from the taxi, I took this photo of the luggage carts neatly filed and ready to be taken to the terminal.

Taxis unloading passengers and their luggage along the driveway designated for public transport.

Airport departure level driveway with a view of the control tower and the multi-level parking building

A properly and conspicuously marked pedestrian crossing at the airport

The driveway designated for private vehicles is more crowded

Sign for the national flag carrier whose hub airport is Suvarnabhumi.

More photos next time!

On lack of funding for government institutions

The recent brouhaha over a popular (some may say infamous) media personality’s criticism of the Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) Emergency Room (ER) and its protocols bring to mind the state of that hospital’s resources especially as it is expected to cater to the needs of so many (too many perhaps?) people. The PGH is arguably the premier government hospital and is also a teaching one with the University of the Philippines Manila’s students in their Colleges of Medicine and Allied Medical Professions providing a significant part of the manpower for the hospital. The PGH like many other institutions like it lacks the funding it needs to provide the services expected of it. The millions it received as part of the UP budget is not just for patients but also covers salaries and operating costs for the hospital. And yet it is able to deliver much more than what it is given in terms of resources.

I suddenly recall the many occasions when the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) was called upon by national agencies and both legislative houses to comment on national and local transportation issues. In many cases, the Center was asked if it can develop models and other tools to aid agencies and congress in decision-making. The Center’s response has always been positive but with the condition for it to be given the resources it needs to do the tasks expected of it. It is not possible to come up with detailed, realistic transport simulation models for cities, for example, without the sophisticated, industry-grade software and the data required to calibrate it. The agencies and congress can only promise to provide the necessary resources and so far we these have yet to translate into something tangible.

So I find it sad for people to be bashing the hospital and others like it for what they think is poor performance for such institutions. Private hospitals like St. Luke’s and Medical City, mind you, deliver similar services but for many times the cost. You expect hotel-grade rooms and atmosphere, then you should expect to pay for those. You expect a world class research centre, you need to provide for its resources including funding for research. Lip service or “laway” doesn’t give you much in terms of the desired outcomes. Mabuti pa yung micro-satellite malaki ang pondo! And with all due respect to my friends who are involved in that program, they have shown what full funding support can do in terms of accomplishments.

Duty free shop expansion at NAIA Terminal 3

Here’s some lighter stuff after the heavy rains that inundated much of Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces. I was at NAIA Terminal 3 recently to fetch a friend arriving from Bacolod. I braved the rains and the potential flooding along my way to and from the airport as it was an early flight she was arriving on. I arrived early to discover the flight arrival was delayed so I decided to go around the terminal to see if there was something new. There was, and that’s the expansion of what was a small (compared to other international airports) duty free shop at NAIA’s largest of 4 terminals.

A peek at the expansion of the duty free shop at Terminal 3 shows people still working on the stocks and display for liquor/wines and cigarettes/tobacco.

Here’s a view from the Lacoste shop looking towards the corridor leading to/from the multi-level parking facility

The shop space now looks quite spacious though I’m not sure if it will attract as many people as other airports’ duty free shops as well as the larger Duty Free Philippines standalone store near Terminal 1. It is very convenient though for the usual p

Article on housing and transportation

Here’s another excellent piece from Todd Litman about the dynamics of housing and transportation. This is a very relevant topic in many cities today and especially so for those like Metro Manila, which is struggling with issues pertaining to affordable housing and transportation infrastructure and services. Arguably, a lot of households are spending more than the 45% threshold of incomes mentioned in the article but people continue to get homes away from the city as these are relatively cheaper than those closer to their workplaces and schools. Unfortunately, transportation costs are on the rise and congestion and a lack of an efficient transport system are among the culprits for what many have already labelled as undignified and atrocious costs of commuting.

Litman, T. (2018) “Affordability Trade-Offs,” planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/99920?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-08092018&mc_cid=e2a69b6eb4&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 8/9/2018]

I envy the guy for being able to present these topics clearly. It is a complex subject and one that isn’t understood by many in government who are supposed to be responsible for crafting and implementing policies and programs to address issues pertaining to affordable housing and commutes. I wonder if Todd is coming over for the ADB Transport Forum. He’s make for a good resource person in some of the sessions there and perhaps can also be invited to speak about this and other relevant and urgent topics in a separate forum. Anyone out there care to sponsor him?

On EDSA transport and traffic, again

There’s a recent decision by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) comprised of the mayors of the cities and municipality of Metro Manila and chaired by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair that vehicles bearing only one passenger (the driver) will be banned from travelling along EDSA. The problem with this is that by banning cars with one passenger from EDSA, you only succeed in making other roads like C5 more congested. It’s a simple case of transferring traffic and worsening it elsewhere since you’re not doing anything to alleviate congestion along those roads. Did MMDA run this and other scenarios using analytical or simulation tools at their disposal? If so, can these be shown and used to explain the soundness of this policy approved by the MMC? I suspect they didn’t and likely depended more on gut feel based on the data they have including what is often reported as 70% of vehicles traveling along EDSA having only one passenger. Meanwhile, the state of mass transit along EDSA still sucks.

IMG_3028A very crowded Boni Avenue Station platform (photo courtesy of Mr. Raul Vibal)

Of course, the pronouncement from the MMDA launched quite a lot of memes on social media. Some people shared the typical quotes on planning (you know, like the ones about planning for people vs. planning for cars). Some offered their own ideas about how to “solve” traffic along EDSA. And so on…that only succeeded in showing how everyone had an opinion about transport and traffic. Everyone is an expert, so it seems.

Some thoughts and not in any order:

  • The government can initially dedicate a lane each for express buses (a la Bus Rapid Transit or BRT). This idea has been circulating for quite some time now and has a good chance of succeeding. The DOTr is already deploying buses that they say are supplementing the MRT 3 trains (i.e., there aren’t enough trains running so passengers have the option of taking a bus instead). Running along the inner lanes of EDSA would mean, however, that they would have to find a way for passengers to cross the road and one idea would be for the stations to be retrofitted for this purpose.
  • Those cars along EDSA are not necessarily for short trips so walking and cycling while needing space may have less impact in the immediate term for such a corridor. In the meantime, serious consideration should be made for bike lanes whether on the ground or elevated and improvements to walking spaces.
  • But these efforts to improve passenger (and freight) flows should be a network-wide thing and not just along EDSA.
  • It’s time to have serious discussions and perhaps simulations (even a dry run) of congestion pricing in Metro Manila. Congestion pricing for all major roads and not just one or two. Funds collected goes to mass transit, walkways and bikeways development. DOTr was supposed to have already discussed an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system like Singapore’s with the company and people behind the same in the city-state. That doesn’t seem to be moving along.
  • Working and studying from home might work in terms of reducing vehicular traffic but then we generally have lousy internet services so that’s a barrier that needs to be broken down.
  • How about legalizing, once and for all, motorcycle taxis? Many are opposed to this citing safety concerns but then we are running out of options outside the usual motherhood statements pertaining to building transport infrastructure. Think about it. Give it a chance. These motorcycles might just surprise us in a nice way; that is, helping alleviate congestion.
  • Carpooling and lanes dedicated to High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) would be good but the LTFRB made a pronouncement about these being illegal as they would be considered ‘colorum’. Such statements do not make the situation any easier and sends mixed signals as to the government’s being serious in considering all possible angles to improve transport and traffic particularly for commuting.

Do you have other ideas to share?