Early morning commutes are not new to me as I’ve been doing this since I started to commute by myself decades ago. My usual trip between home and school consisted of two jeepney rides or one jeepney ride and a tricycle ride, depending on whether I carried a lot of items or if I didn’t feel like walking the so-called last mile between the jeepney stop and my home. While traffic wasn’t as bad in the 1980s and 1990s as it is today, it was still difficult to get a ride. Little has improved with public transport even though there are air-conditioned vans, P2P and additional railway option for me now along my usual routes to the office.
Back in the day, I liked to enlist in the 7:00 – 8:30 AM classes at UP Diliman as it was easy to get a ride at 6:00AM. That allowed for some time to spare before class and in the rare cases when UP-Katipunan jeepney drivers were on strike, you can walk the length of Katipunan and arrive in time for class. It was later when my classes were mostly in the afternoon that I had to delay my trips so I wouldn’t have to travel during the peak periods. It was difficult to get a ride and travel times were longer. When I was already working, I often traveled early if we had field work scheduled. That meant traveling before 6AM. There were fewer jeepneys but most were not full and it was easy to get a ride.
I took a couple of photos of a bus plying the Antipolo-Cubao route at around 5:30 AM one Friday morning. This was before the return to work order was issued to many workers so perhaps it does not show the current situation for the same time.
I now go to the office twice or thrice per week. On my way at 7:30 AM, I see many people lined along the streets at the typical loading/unloading areas along my routes. People would have to travel earlier if they want to easily get a ride and if their travel distances are relatively far (i.e., many people live outside of Metro Manila and have to travel 10+ kilometers one way).
Here’s a quick share of information about the parking rates at the NAIA airport terminals:
The infographic is from the DOTr Facebook Page and should be useful for those picking up people at the airport or who would be leaving their vehicles there as they travel again with the easing of restrictions due to the pandemic.
Have you ever wondered when the first road crash involving a motor vehicle occurred? Or who was the first person to die (i.e., fatality) in a car crash? Here’s a brief but informative article on this topic:
Sal (April 15, 2022) “Who Was the First Person Ever to Die in a Car Crash?” Medium.com, https://sal.medium.com/who-was-the-first-person-ever-to-die-in-a-car-crash-8385add6cbcb [Last accessed: 4/20/2022]
Were you surprised about the 3 mph speed of the car that ran over the first fatality involving a car? That’s really slow considering the speeds of vehicles these days and how high speed limits are along streets where there are many pedestrians. Meanwhile, the circumstances about the first crash appears to be similar to what we still have now. That is, reckless driving, increasing speed limits and (truth be told) pedestrians not being aware of their surroundings (say what you will but the car was traveling at 4 mph and there was a claim that the driver tried to get the attention of the victim to no avail). I agree though with the author that this was a portent of worse things to come as road crashes has become a top killer and health concern.
While doing field work early this week, we decided to do a quick drive through for refreshments. As we queued for the drive through window, we came upon this recent addition to many fast food restaurants in light of the increasing popularity of cycling amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are a few photos of the Bike & Dine at McDonald’s along Rodeo Drive in Alabang.
Our first close look at the bike & dine section of a fast-food restaurant ironically was via the drive through of a restaurant.
McDonald’s bike & dine facility – many if not most of their newer branches have allocated space for bikers. These clearly show that such facilities or features can be included in the space layout and design of such restaurants.
Cyclists may park and secure their bikes on one side (left with a slot for a wheel) and sit to eat and/or drink on the other side of the table.
A close-up of the table, seats and bike slots
More and more establishments are now putting up bike facilities such as parking and bike & dine. We hope that these will help encourage more people to cycle while also proving that active transport is good for business.
Inflight, there wasn’t really much difference pre-Covid-19 and now (not yet post-Covid-19) except perhaps that the flight attendants were wearing PPEs and masks. We were on full flights both outbound and inbound of Manila and the airport terminals were also already crowded. We flew on Philippine Airlines so there was no food and drinks for sale on the flight. But they did distribute some snacks and drinks to passengers.
|Butter cookies and water were our inflight snacks for the MNL-TAG flight. For drinks you actually can opt for coffee or tea.|
|The cookies were by Figaro and not from some obscure manufacturer.|
|We had green peas and water on the TAG-MNL flight.|
|Nutrition information at the back of the pack.|
I assume that longer flights on board full service airlines like Singapore Airlines or Japan Airlines would have modified their inflight meals service in light of Covid-19. We are hopeful that we can soon travel overseas to again enjoy the attractions in other countries.
It’s been more than 2 years since the last time I went on a trip via aircraft. We finally decided it was safe to take a brief vacation and to take advantage of the still few tourists heading to resorts out of Manila. Here are a few photos taken at NAIA Terminal 2 as we set out to travel to Panglao Island in Bohol for a much needed break from work and from Covid-19.
Check-in counters at NAIA T2 were already busy when we arrived at the airport
The scene at the terminal lobby was as if there was no pandemic (technically, we aren’t out of the Covid-19 pandemic yet).
Past the final security check and into the pre-departure area
Some sections were less crowded. This section where we had some light lunch as we waited for our gate to be announced was usually reserved for international flights. Here were gates for US destinations and it was spacious because of the number of passengers and the gauntlet-like security checks required for US-bound passengers.
Our boarding gate for our flight to Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport
Passengers waiting for their boarding calls near our gate
We can only imagine how much more crowded this terminal could still be once we go back to “normal” or pre-pandemic travel conditions. It is good to see at least most passengers wearing masks. All adults at least were wearing masks and only small children and infants weren’t. We also hope that airport terminal staff do their part in ensuring the facilities were disinfected regularly so as to minimize the risk of Covid-19 and other infections.
It’s been more than two years since we last traveled by plane and 10 years since our visit to Panglao in Bohol. So its really something we looked forward to considering we now travel with our daughter and there’s a lot to write about on the experiences.
And there’s a lot about transport to write about and share in this blog. There’s a new airport, the nice roads and the journey between Panglao and Balicasag, among others that I will be writing about soon.
The complete streets concept usually involve transforming streets to favor active and public transport. The typical discussions and presentations on complete streets are often focused on taking away road space from cars to allocate to pedestrians (e.g., wider sidewalks), cyclists (e.g., bike lanes) and public transport (e.g., transit lanes). Seldom do we read about trucks, deliveries and related items even in guides and manuals and are often just implied to be addressed in street transformation examples.
Evans, T. (March 24, 2022) “”Complete Streets” and Goods Delivery: What are Streets For?” New Jersey Future, https://www.njfuture.org/2022/03/24/complete-streets-and-goods-delivery-what-is-a-street-for/ [Last accessed: 4/5/2022]
To quote from the article:
“Not every final destination for a package needs to be accessible to large trucks. Rather than proposing truck-focused modifications (wider lanes, bigger turning radii, etc.) to local streets in order to accommodate truck deliveries, transportation planners and logistics industry professionals should focus instead on matching the type of delivery vehicle to the environment in which the destination is located.”
I recall the mainly pedestrianized shopping streets (shotengai) in Japan when I try to make sense of how delivery vehicles can be included in the discussion. The Japanese use small trucks or vans for deliveries and mostly these are confined to the side streets. However, during certain times of the day, usually early mornings or after business hours, they are allowed inside the shopping street for quick deliveries or pick-ups. This show what kind of goods vehicles and operations may be permitted.
I am sharing this article on the invention of jaywalking. It is a very informative articles and gives context to the current situation where cars dominate streets and car-centric policies and infrastructure diminish pedestrians and walking. I’ve always said that history should enlighten us about how it was, how it came to be and what we need to change now if we are to attain a more sustainable transport system that will contribute to improving safety and ultimately, quality of life.
Thompson, C. (March 29, 2022) “The invention of ‘Jaywalking’,” Marker, https://marker.medium.com/the-invention-of-jaywalking-afd48f994c05 [Last accessed: 4/2/2022]
To quote from the article:
“It’s not totally clear who invented the phrase, but it was a fiendishly clever portmanteau. In the early 20th century, the word “jay” mean an uncultured rube from the countryside. To be a “jaywalker” thus was to be a country bumpkin who blundered around urban streets — guileless of the sophisticated ways of the city…
Ever after, “the street would be monopolized by motor vehicles,” Norton tells me. “Most of the children would be gone; those who were still there would be on the sidewalks.” By the 1960s, cars had become so dominant that when civil engineers made the first computer models to study how traffic flowed, they didn’t even bother to include pedestrians.”
The article showed photos of pre-automobile times in the US. Here’s a photo of pre-automobile Manila for context:
And here’s Manila during the American period but with most people walking or taking public transport in the form of the tranvias:
Chaotic as the scenes appear to be, these streets were definitely safer and perhaps saner than what he have now. The challenge is how to re-orient our streets and reclaim it to favor people instead of cars.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recently announced that the agency was studying options for a new number coding scheme under its Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP). UVVRP is basically a travel demand management (TDM) program focused on vehicle use restraint. In this case, private vehicles, particularly cars, are the target of volume reduction. Here’s a graphic from their Facebook page:
The schemes are not really new as these were also considered before. Are the conditions new at all? Are we assuming things changed due to the pandemic? Or will there just be a return to the old normal in terms of traffic congestion? Here are some past writings on the topic including a 3-part series I wrote back in May 2011:
- From Odd-Even to UVVRP…and back
- Traffic congestion in Metro Manila: Is the UVVRP Still Effective? – Part 1
- Traffic congestion in Metro Manila: Is the UVVRP Still Effective? – Part 2
- Traffic congestion in Metro Manila: Is the UVVRP Still Effective? – Conclusion
I think many of the arguments I made in those more than decade old articles hold or apply to the present. Even with the increasing popularity of active transport in the form of bicycle facilities appear to have not made a dent to the transport problems in the metropolis. Many questions abound and I have seen and read comments pointing to the many transport infrastructure projects currently ongoing around Metro Manila as proof that transport and traffic will be improving soon. Transportation in general may indeed improve once the likes of the Metro Manila Subway, Line 7, Line 1 Extension, and the PNR upgrades come online (i.e., all operational) but we have yet to see their impacts outside the models created to determine their potential benefits. Will they be game changers? We do hope so. Will UVVRP be needed in the future when these mass transit lines (including others in the pipeline) are all operational? Perhaps, but a scaled down version of this TDM scheme might still be needed and may suffice if people do shift from their private vehicles to public transportation. The fear is that most people eventually taking the trains would be those who are already commuting using road-based public transport like buses, jeepneys and vans. If so, the mode share of private transport will not be reduced and those traffic jams will remain or even worsen. Maybe we should be discussing road pricing now?