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Mactan Cebu International Airport – newly opened lobby area at Terminal 1

Arriving in Cebu, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the airport’s Terminal 1 has a new lobby that is now open to the public. Here are photos taken during our recent trip to Cebu last month.

View of the newly opened lobby from the baggage claim area

Passengers and well-wishers (mostly people waiting to fetch arriving passengers) at the MCIA’s new lobby

This is the arrival level and one can use the escalators or the stairs to get to the departure level

Escalators at the MCIA’s new lobby

The corridor to the transport terminal is unfinished but the path is spacious enough as shown in the photo.

This is the area closer to the older exit from the arrival area of Terminal 1, which is actually closer to the transport terminal.

A preview of a much more spacious area where a driveway used to be

I made sure to take more photos of the lobby upon our departure from Cebu. Here are those photos:

Workers walking along the newly completed pathways at the ground transport interphase for the departure area of the airport’s Terminal 1.

A familiar scene: passengers saying their farewells to relatives at the airport terminal

Carts neatly placed for use by travellers

Information signs and columns are sleek and modern. These show the way to the check-in counters.

A very spacious departure level lobby

View towards the escalators to the arrival area, which is one level down from the departure area

Shakey’s seem to be one of the first to establish a branch at the newly refurbished Terminal 1.

Corridor to the terminal’s domestic flight check-in counters

Newly installed information board showing scheduled departures and their status

More about Cebu’s airport soon!

Sri Lanka Airport Arrival – Bandaranaike International Airport

The Bandaranaike International Airport reminded me of the larger airports in the Philippines. At least that was my first impression of this main gateway for Sri Lanka upon our arrival. Here are photos I took upon our arrival at Colombo last September.

We deplaned away from the international terminal where a bus was waiting for us.

Other passengers deplaned from the rear door and another bus was waiting for them.

The bus was not airconditioned so we had our first taste of the Sri Lankan climate. Coming from a tropical country though, it was okay for us.

Passengers deplaning had to stop on the stairs as our bus was full and they had to wait for the next one.

Other aircraft on the tarmac of the airport

The air traffic control tower as seen from a distance

Upon disembarking from our buses, passengers ascend towards the immigration section

It took us a while to clear immigration as there were few officers assigned to foreigners that time. Upon clearing immigration, we walked towards the baggage reclaim area only to be greeted by this sight.

On one side were shops selling mostly liquor and cigarettes and on the other were shops selling appliances and other electronics. I didn’t expect to see so many selling items like TVs, refrigerators and washing machines. And then we thought these were quite similar to the set-up of duty free shops in Manila during the 1970s to the 1990s when many if not most arrivals were either balikbayan (vacationing from the US, Canada or Europe) or Overseas Foreign Workers who were on a break or between contracts. We observed similar situations at Bandaranaike as many Sri Lankans arriving appeared to be OFWs.

We descended towards the baggage reclaim area, which turned out to be an expansive area.

There were few passengers  so that added to the feeling of space.

The airport had many conveyor belts

It took us a while to get to our conveyor belt. Along the way, I took this photo of the customs channels. The green was for travellers with nothing to declare. The red was for those with taxable items.

Passengers positioned themselves around the conveyor belt

Passengers waiting for their luggage

Upon getting our luggage, we proceeded towards the terminal exit. The way was lined with currency exchange stalls, hotels booths and tourist travel booths.

Currency exchange and tourist services

The path towards the terminal exit is lined with tourist agencies offering various services and packages.

Passengers are greeted by those picking them up (including hotel transportation) and those offering transport services to various destinations. 

There were many empty stalls intended for duty free shops at the terminal. Perhaps these will be occupied once the airport complex is completed and there is an increase in flights at Bandaranaike.

Passengers waiting for their rides upon exiting the terminal

One of the driveways at the arrivals area. This was for private vehicles picking up arriving passengers. We crossed this to get to the driveway where our Uber car was waiting for us.

A friend engaging our Uber driver – it wasn’t difficult to make conversation as most Sri Lankans could speak English; one of the legacies of being under British rule for a long time.

View of the airport driveway

Familiar scene of a buddhist image – we thought this was similar to scenes in Thailand

More photos from our trip to Sri Lanka soon!

Some commentaries on the jeepney modernisation

The nationwide transport strike last Monday elicited a lot of reactions from both supporters and opponents of the the initiatives to modernise the jeepney. Both sides have valid points but both, too, have weak points. Much has been discussed about the cost of acquiring new jeepneys to replace the old ones and whether you agree or not, these are really a bit steep to the typical jeepney driver-operator.

A low downpayment will certainly mean higher monthly amortisations. And most drivers/operators can only afford a low downpayment with or without the 80,000 pesos or so subsidy from the government. Even if you factor in some tax incentives, the net amount to be paid every month will still be too much for a typical driver/operator. Anyone who’s ever purchased a vehicle, new or used, through a loan should know this, and to deny it means you probably are privileged enough not to take out a loan.

Certainly there are exceptions like certain Beep operations that are supposed to be run like a company or cooperative, and where fleet management techniques allow these to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. The latter supposedly allows the owners to recover their capital (return of investment) for the purchase of the new jitney units.  The reality, however, is that not all routes are good enough for the required revenues and the better earning ones subsidize (forced?) those that are not profitable. The ‘company’ or ‘coop’ can therefore hide these unprofitable cases as the collective performance of the routes they operate along become the basis for assessment.

Snapshot inside a jeepney while waiting for it to fill with passengers

It is true that the business model (or what is passed off for one) for jeepney operations is flawed. More so if you place this in the context of transport demand for a metropolis like Metro Manila. That is why perhaps corporatization or cooperatives can probably help in terms of improving processes and practices (e.g., maintenance regimes, deployment). So perhaps this is where government should step in and be more aggressive in organising jeepney drivers and operators. I would even dare say that government should be willing to extend more financial support if significant change in public transport is to be achieved. The Office of the President, Senators and Congressmen enjoy a lot of pork and the numbers for a single year indicate that they can, if willing, purchase new jitneys for their constituencies perhaps focusing on the cities and retiring the old, dilapidated public utility vehicles. That, I think, is a more ‘intelligent’ use to these funds that are allegedly being misused by our politicians.

So, was the strike a success? I think the answer is yes it was. Government cannot deny this as it was forced to suspend classes in schools in order to address the impending shortfall of services during the strike and many LGUs were forced to provide free transport services (libreng sakay) in many forms (e.g., dump trucks, flat bed trucks, etc.). You can only say it was a failure if it was business as usual with commuters feeling minimal impact of the stoppage in jeepney operations.

Mixed messages for commuters?

I had spotted buses (or perhaps its just the same bus?) for a P2P service between Antipolo and Ortigas Center bearing what appears to be a statement for improving the quality of life of commuters. Many have been suffering and continue to suffer on their daily commutes starting from difficulties getting a ride to very long travel times. The term “dignity of travel” comes to mind, which a colleague coined many years ago to describe

P2P buses at the public transport terminal at Robinsons Place Antipolo

Whoever thought of this probably meant well; thinking about improving quality of life. The choice of words though may convey a different message as “driving” is in all caps and usually associated with a different, less appealing activity to sustainable transport advocates. I think they should have chosen “improving” instead of “driving” here.

 

This is somewhat similar to a much earlier post of mine showing SMRT buses in Singapore with ads promoting Uber and how it was supposed to complement public transport. That, of course, was a bit of a stretch in the city-state, which already has excellent public transport compared to elsewhere, and already complemented by very good taxi services.

Yesterday, there was a nationwide transport strike and depending on which side you are on, the reality is that we are still far from having more efficient public transport. But that’s another story and hopefully, I get to write about it in the next few days.

Changi Jewel and transit

The trip to Sri Lanka afforded me some hours at Singapore’s Changi Airport. En route to Colombo, we made sure to go around the complex and check out one of the attractions of the top airport in the world. Changi’s Jewel is very impressive and can make you forgot you were actually inside an airport terminal. Here are some photos taken as we trekked to the Jewel via Terminal 2 and 3.

Visitors have the option of walking by themselves or using the moving walkway whenever these were available.

The automated guideway transit (AGT) system of Changi allow you to transfer from one terminal to another with the exception of Terminal 4.

I took this photo of the guideway and the AGT as reference for my lectures

Another view of the corridor connecting Terminal 3 to the Jewel

Directional sign to the Jewel

Changi’s air traffic control tower

The main attraction is this gigantic waterfall located at a man-made complex that’s designed to imitate conditions at a rainforest.

Changi AGT slow down for passengers to have a good close view of the Jewel

All the water used is recycled and one can get mesmerised by the vortex where all the water falls and seem to be sucked into.

Here’s another look at the Jewel and the airport AGT

There is a mall with shops, restaurants and cafes around the Jewel.

Another photo of the AGT guideway above the road system at Changi

Taxis queued along airport roads

More guideways

A look back at the way from the Jewel

More photos of Changi soon!

Paseo Recoletos

The sidewalks around the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu City are named Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo de San Jose. Here are a few photos on Paseo de Recoletos.

Arcade-type walkway along the perimeter of the University of San Jose Recoletos. This part is the Paseo de Recoletos along Magallanes Street and across from the Freedom Park Market. The other is Paseo de San Jose but is not wholly covered. The latter is along P. Lopez Street.

The Paseo leads to the church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which is on the second level from the ground.

View of the Paseo de Recoletos from our vehicle. Note the architectural details on the USJR building.

Another view of the Paseo de Recoletos

The main gate of the USJR is at the corner of Magallanes and P. Lopez Streets. The photo capture the view towards P. Lopez and the side of the university along this street is Paseo de San Jose.

Frontage of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Church, which is integrated with the main building of the university, which is run by the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR).

Scenes along the Paseo de Recoletos included overloaded jeepneys, motorcycle taxis and various vendors both mobile and those who’ve set up shop across the street.

Vegetable vendor pushing a cart containing his merchandise

Scenes like these are common in many Philippine cities especially the old ones that have narrow streets and have retained much of the commerce in many areas around the city centre. It gives you a glimpse of the marketplace and commerce before the arrival of the large malls. Of course, there are what are already termed as malls around the area but these are more like large department stores than the types of SM City, Ayala Center and Robinsons Place.

The Barkadahan Bridge situation

The Barkadahan Bridge is currently undergoing rehabilitation. To be accurate, the old bridge is being rehabilitated and upgraded/retrofitted to be able to carry the traffic projected to use it being a vital link between the Province of Rizal and Metro Manila via Pasig and the C-6 corridor. The bridge is named after the “friendship” established among Rizal municipalities and Pasig City for an area that has been subject of a territorial dispute among them. These are the municipalities of Cainta and Taytay (Rizal Province) and the city of Pasig. The bridge spans the Manggahan Floodway, much of which is in Pasig City.

To increase the capacity for this crossing, which is the most direct route to C-6 and popular among many headed to Taguig/BGC and Makati, a new bridge had been constructed to the south of the old one. The older one had 2 traffic lanes and was no longer sufficient for the volume of vehicles crossing it after the expansion of C-6 resulting to it steadily gaining more users over the years. Use of this route cut down travel times between Rizal and BGC and Makati by at least 30 minutes based on our experiences using the route.

Late last year as far as I could recall, the new bridge opened and immediately increased capacity but then congestion quickly set-in due to two factors: the traffic management at the intersection with the East Bank Road and the constrained (two-lane, two-way) leg of Highway 2000. Add to this the lack of discipline by local traffic in the form of tricycles and motorcycles counter-flowing in the area.

Earlier this year, signs were posted around Rizal about the then impending project for the rehabilitation of the old bridge. The signs advised for most travellers to avoid using the Barkadahan Bridge due to the congestion in the area because of the project. It turns out that what was thought by most as a project retrofitting the old bridge alone was actually a bigger one involving increasing the capacity of the Highway 2000 leg of the intersection with the East Bank Road. Following is a photo posted at the official Facebook page of the Rizal Provincial Government showing the demolition of buildings and other structures along the Highway 2000 leg. The photos were taken from the new Barkadahan Bridge approaching the intersection, the southbound direction of the East Bank Road, and from the westbound side of Highway 2000.

Demolition and clearing of ROW for the expansion of Highway 2000 in relation to Barkadahan Bridge [Photo collage from the Lalawigan ng Rizal Facebook page]

From the photos above, it is clear that at least 2 lanes will be added to Highway 2000 and that this leg will soon be well-aligned with the Barkadahan Bridge, which will also have a total of 4 lanes. Hopefully, this project will be completed soon and within the year (before December?) in order to alleviate the commuting woes of Rizalenos working in the BGC and Makati CBD areas. Of course, that goes without saying that there is also a need to optimise the traffic signals at the intersection and to strictly enforce traffic rules and regulations vs. erring motorists in the area.