Flashback: Transport Infrastructure Framework Plan for the Philippines
I was reading an article yesterday about the outgoing NEDA Director General stating that Philippines needing a long term strategy for infrastructure development that will address the shortcomings or gaps due to unsolicited proposals. There was already something like this drafted almost a decade ago and under the auspices of the returning NEDA DG. Unfortunately, while NEDA accepted the Final Report of the study, they never adopted it as a policy that could also be imposed on agencies like the DOTr (still DOTC back then) and the DPWH. So for a sort of Throwback Thursday and on the last day of the Duterte Administration, I am sharing the promotional video produced for the framework plan that was supported by The World Bank.
The study was conducted by Cambridge Systematics (not related to Cambridge Analytics as far as I know) and was implemented at the same time as the JICA Dream Plan study for Mega Manila. I recall there is also a video on the latter and it listed all the infrastructure projects needed to address the transport problems of the Greater Capital Region. The Infra Framework Plan for the country mentions the various infrastructure projects ongoing and proposed for the Philippines but focuses on the soft side (i.e., strategies) including the reforms and institutional set-up that need to be in place for everything to come together and produce the desired outcomes in the long term. Sadly, strategies and plans are not well appreciated despite their being essential as foundations. While the Build, Build, Build mantra of the outgoing administration is worth praising for attempting to do the catch-up needed in as far as certain transport infrastructure is concerned, it falls short of what are necessary and to be prioritized. Instead, it ended up accommodating projects that are “nice to have” but should not be prioritized considering our limited resources and the undesirable foreign debt racked up by government. Hopefully, the returning NEDA DG and other officials will be able to steer the country clear of the current and future crises that may end up bringing more hardships on Filipinos.
Bike lanes at Bonifacio Global City
After settling down at our new ‘tambayan’ at BGC, I decided to take my regular morning walk around the area to familiarize myself with the environs and to establish a route that I and the wife would likely be taking for our constitutionals whenever we are staying at BGC. I took the following photos of the bike lanes along 38th Street where most of the locators are international schools.
During Saturday and Sunday mornings, the bollards are moved to the sidewalk as many cyclists use 38th Street for laps. I wonder if the bike lanes will be retained once the schools resume face-to-face classes. That would mean a tremendous number of private vehicles generated by the international schools and colleges here. My opinion is that the bike lanes need to be retained as it is a step in the right direction for transport and encourages people to cycle or take PMDs to work and perhaps to school. These and others like it in Metro Manila and around the country need to be sustained and further developed to be attractive and viable to many seeking another option for mobility and their regular commutes.
Star ratings for bicycles
I just wanted to do a quick share of a new method for evaluating road and bicycling infrastructure – cycleRAP. This was developed by the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), which has established a star rating system as the international standard for road safety assessments. We currently use their Star Ratings for Schools (SR4S) to evaluate the school environment towards ensuring safe journeys for school children. Here’s the link to their website:
To quote from the site: “CycleRAP is an easy, affordable and fast method of evaluating road and bicycling infrastructure for safety. It aims to reduce crashes and improve safety specifically for bicyclists and other light mobility users by identifying high risk locations without the need for crash data.”
On floods, transport and traffic, again
It’s that time of year again when the heavy rains lead to flash floods along many roads. I took the following photo as we slowly progressed towards Cainta Junction early this week. The Felix Avenue approach was flooded after more than an hour of heavy rains fell upon Cainta and neighboring towns. We learned later that the rains fell on a larger area as EDSA and other major road in Metro Manila also experience flash floods. These cause traffic to slow down if not outright stoppage. Many commuters can get stranded when PUVs are not able to run due to the floods. Deeper waters mean light vehicles including motorcycles and bicycles cannot proceed along certain roads, further exacerbating the traffic situation.
Motorcyclists emerge from their shelters to travel along flooded roads. A common sight when there are downpours are motorcyclists huddling under overpasses, bridges, or whatever shelter may be available to them. Many bring rain gear but opt to just stop and wait it out until the rain stops.
A cyclist braves the floods – while pedestrians will likely stop and wait it out for the rains to stop or for the floods to subside, cyclist might just pedal on. They just have to be more careful as potholes and other dangers may be hidden by the floodwaters.
Cainta Junction has been submerged by so many floods over so many years. Even with the new drainage constructed under and along Ortigas Avenue Extension, Felix Avenue and Bonifacio Avenue, it seems their capacities are not enough to handle the rainwaters. That or perhaps their intakes need to be redesigned to more efficiently take on the heavy rains and the resulting runoff.
How can e-scooters become a safer way to travel?
I’ve shared some articles and opinions about electric scooters. Here is another one that delves into the safety about these vehicles that have become quite popular in the US. Here in the Philippines, they still seem to be in infancy in terms of popularity and to some, are seen as more a novelty and touristy rather than a mode of transport for the typical work trips.
Donahue, B (June 11, 2022) “How to Make Electric Scooters Become a Safer Way to Travel,” Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-06-11/how-to-make-electric-scooters-safer [Last accessed: 6/18/2022]
To quote from the article:
“Dediu believes that in time micromobility will attain critical mass, as other modes of transit have already done, and that infrastructure will come as the user base grows. “We didn’t build airports and then have airplanes show up,” he’s said. “I’m confident, given the history, that we’ll see things like more safe roadways for micromobility vehicles.” “
Scoot-to-work at BGC, Taguig, Metro Manila
It is not really about the vehicle but the environment in which it is being used. One can say a lot about walking, for example, being dangerous but without touching on the why and the how its become a dangerous or risky mode of travel. It’s the lack of infrastructure or facilities as well as the car-oriented environment (that includes archaic laws and other regulations) that make active mobility and micro mobility modes dangerous or risky. If we can address these basic issues, then perhaps we can entice more people to use these modes more often and for the most trips we make everyday.
And don’t forget that these modes are the most fuel efficient! Saves you from the every increasing prices of fuel!
Tagbilaran – Panglao Airport Departure
With the recent popularity of my post on the Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport, I was encouraged to write this second part about the airport. Following are photos taken during our departure from Panglao. I took photos from the driveway, the check-in area and the pre-departure area and lounges. I hope this helps my readers including and especially travelers and tourists.
Curbside at the new airport – the area is very spacious and should be able to handle the steadily increasing number of passengers and well-wishers at the airport.
Passengers alight from their vehicles near the Philippine Airlines office at the terminal.
Air Asia ticket office near the terminal curbside
Spacious check-in area – I was just discussing the requirements and standards for check-in counters and frontage to my students this last semester.
Check-in counters for PAL
The check-in counters for Cebu Pacific were crowded when we arrived at the terminal.
Stickers on the floor mark where passengers are supposed to position themselves to comply with health protocols (i.e., social distance).
CebPac has their self check-out portals at the airport for those who have not done their online check-in and to facilitate and expedite check-in procedures.
There’s a separate section for international departures. The airport used to service international flight (before the pandemic). I assume this is where immigration (i.e., passport and visa control) and customs would have been located for International travel.
After checking-in, travelers are greeted by very spacious lounges
This is the ground floor. Visible is the elevator and escalators to the second level pre-departure area for domestic flights. I assume this is a mirror image of the international departures wing.
Unfortunately, there are only two kiosks at the terminal when we were there. One is this stall that sells snacks, sandwiches, instant noodles, and soft drinks and water. There are no souvenir shops or stores for last minute pasalubong shopping.
A view of the tarmac from the lounge
The elevator to the second level lounges and boarding gates.
Stairs and escalators to the second level
One of the boarding gates at the second level
The second level pre-departure area
A look at the ground floor
The other kiosk is by The Bellevue Resort. Their coffee is good but they ran out of food at the time we were there. We thought this was not good considering there were other flights scheduled for the rest of the day and passengers will end up with very limited or no options for meals before their flights.
Another look at the boarding gate and kiosk at the ground level
Another look at the other kiosk at the pre-departure area that sells snacks, light meals and drinks.
Passengers walk towards the tube connecting to aircraft
Bridge connecting the terminal to the aircraft
A PAL plan taking off
The airport control tower
Baggage being transport for loading unto the aircraft
A family walks to board the awaiting aircraft bound for Manila.
A view of an Air Asia plane that had just arrived and with its passengers just starting to deplane.
This airport is probably one of the better airports in the country now. There is a new airport in Bicol (replacing the old Legazpi Airport) that just started operations recently, which I have yet to visit but is likely better than Panglao in terms of shops and stores. Facilities-wise, this is a modern gateway that should serve the projected number of passengers for Bohol for the next so many years including the expected international operations for the terminal. We are still in the midst of the pandemic but the number of travelers is steadily increasing. And so I wonder how the airport will be once the ‘old normal’ number of visitors return.
They definitely need more shops and stores than the current two kiosks at the airport. They also would need to improve on the ventilation and air-conditioning (it was quite humid inside the airport when we were there – the aircon was not functioning). As a tourist, I am already looking forward to the next trip to Panglao. Hopefully, the airport will be even better on that next trip.
On how traffic enforcement enhances road safety
It seems to be a no-brainer and has always been an assumption to many traffic engineering studies including those employing simulation to determine the outcomes of various scenarios involving transportation. The element that is traffic enforcement, however, cannot be assumed as something uniform across countries, cities, barangays or even individual road sections and intersections (yet we often do assume uniformity and a certain level of strictness).
Here is an article that reports on new research pertaining to how the enforcement of traffic laws makes roads safer:
Mohn, T. (June 8, 2022) “Enforcing traffic laws makes roads safer, new research shows,” Forbes.com, https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2022/06/08/enforcing-traffic-laws-makes-roads-safer-new-research-shows/?sh=74b03c97591e [Last accessed: 6/10/2022]
To quote from the article:
“High visibility enforcement of traffic safety laws actually works. When carried out, regulations governing driving have a positive and measurable impact on safety by reducing dangerous behaviors behind the wheel that put road users at risk…
““Enforcement alone will not solve the traffic safety crisis,” Adkins added. “We cannot simply enforce, build, design or educate our way out of this problem. The Safe System necessitates a comprehensive approach for achieving our collective goal of zero traffic deaths, including equitable enforcement that focuses on risky driver choices that endanger all road users.”
The article points to new research published by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The synthesis to that research may be found here while the full report is found here.
Such research and articles are very relevant especially as incidents like the one involving a driver running over an enforcer become viral and bring to the forefront traffic enforcement or the lack of it (some will word it differently – like why many drivers don’t follow traffic rules and regulations). The discussion must continue especially in the context of road safety.
Kalayaan Bridge (BGC – Ortigas Center Link)
The Kalayaan Bridge, also known as the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) – Ortigas Center Link opened about a year ago and was supposed to ease traffic along the usual routes along EDSA and C5 that crossed the Pasig River. The new bridge is located between the EDSA and C5 bridges and is a more direct route to and from BGC if you reside in Pasig and choose the route to/from BGC via Pasig/Shaw Boulevard.
The approach ramp to the bridge from the BGC side is in the vicinity of the Uptown part of BGC. The bridge goes over Kalayaan Avenue, which is one of the major access roads to BGC from C5 or EDSA, and J.P. Rizal Avenue Extension but there is access and egress to Kalayaan Avenue.
The ramp is practically a single lane with painted bike lanes on either side of the bridge. There is noticeably no space for pedestrians on this bridge. That is only a curb on the right side. This lack of pedestrian provisions is a major flaw of this bridge.
A lone cyclist traversing the bridge – the merge for traffic from BGC and vehicles from Kalayaan Avenue is seen downstream.
Approaching the merging section (from this perspective; its diverging on the other side) of the bridge.
A motorcycle merges with the traffic from BGC. Notice the chevron markings separating merging flows as well as the yield marking for vehicles coming from Kalayaan (i.e., priority is for vehicles coming from BGC). The bridge from this section becomes two lanes per direction. There is, however, a risky part for cyclists who will cross paths with vehicles coming from Kalayaan. Cyclists from BGC will have to cross a lane to get to the bike lane on the outer side of the bridge. There is no space for pedestrians along this bridge.
There is only this part of the bridge where there appears to be a sidewalk. Was this really the design for this bridge? It is very obvious that many people failed in both design and implementation of this project.
The view towards the Pasig side of the bridge. There are two lanes per direction and narrow bike lanes along the curbsides.
There is an intersection at the end of the bridge but the road immediately at the right is closed to incoming traffic so right turns are currently prohibited despite the pavement markings that indicate they were allowed at one time.
The road leads to this intersection which is in area generally referred to before as ‘Pioneer’. The area hosts many warehouses or storage buildings and I remember going here many years ago to check out the imported wood furniture and office surplus items. Turning right leads one to the area generally known as ‘Unilab’ because that was where United Laboratories had their plant and offices. It retained the property where now stands an events venue. Further on leads you to Kapitolyo and the Estancia Mall.
I just wanted to share a couple of photos I took en route to BGC last week. Yes, the traffic is already terrible and yes, I drove to BGC (or more accurately, I was driven as we were hauling stuff to our home away from home at BGC). I couldn’t help but take photos of the motorcycles and bicycles passing our vehicles. These were definitely more efficient forms of travel considering they require less space and likely incur less travel times. In addition to these modes (and walking, of course), there seems to be an increasing popularity for other micro mobilities. I wouldn’t define and enumerate these emerging modes but you’ve probably seen some of them along your commutes – electric kick scooters (EKS), gas-powered versions of these scooters, other forms of electric vehicles including trikes, etc. Here are a couple of examples I captured in photos last week.
Cyclists and micro mobility users slugging it out with motor vehicles
E-scooter in BGC: comfy clothes-check! backpack-check! helmet-check! Commuting to work should be something like this rather than most people using their cars.
Suffering and salvation for transport and traffic
I shared the following photo on social media with the label “Kalbaryo at Kaligtasan”:
Cyclist pedaling ahead of cars queueing along the C5 ramp towards BGC
The label or title has double meaning. Conspicuous in the photo is the image of the Crucifixion atop what is a small shrine along Circumferential Road 5 across and facing SM Aura. The image appears to be a reminder or symbol of suffering but with the superimposed image of traffic congestion, alludes to the suffering endured by motorists on a daily basis. The “kaligtasan” or salvation part of the photo is in the form of the cyclist or the bicycle (I really have to explain that, right?) that offers an alternative or even hope for those who seek it. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that active transport in the form of walking or cycling is part of the solution to the transport problems we are experiencing. Public transport, of course, is touted as an ultimate solution but the reforms and infrastructure required are and will take time to implement, and these are already encountering problems leading to further delays or ineffectiveness.