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First call for papers for the TSSP 2017 conference

The first call for papers for the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines came out last Wednesday, Feb. 15:

first-call-for-papers-13feb2017

No more bike share at BGC?

Walking back to the parking lot near Seda Hotel after my meeting near Net One Center yesterday, I noticed that the bike share rack near Krispy Kreme was empty of bicycles. I was about to rejoice but then I noticed, too, that the portal by which you can borrow a bicycle was also missing. Was it temporarily removed because of all the activities (Christmas season) that were ongoing at Bonifacio High Street? Or were the proponents already in the process of removing them? I hope it was the first or perhaps the second but only to relocate the rack elsewhere where it is more strategic and perhaps attract more people to use it. Meanwhile, a nearby bike rack for cyclists to place and secure their bicycles was full. This meant a lot of people actually took their bicycles to High Street but these were their own and not part of the bike share system.

Bike share success?

There are two articles about bike sharing that got my attention today. These are both asked the question of weather bike sharing programs actually work or are successful. Following are links to the two articles available online:

Both articles draw upon the experiences in many cities in the United States where various bike share programs have sprouted. Many seem to have had some measure of success but most are not as successful when evaluated using criteria mentioned in the articles. I guess there’s much to be learned here but the experiences should not be limited to the US. There are better examples in Europe where bicycle use is quite popular compared to the US. Perhaps Asian examples, too, need to be assessed but then all need to be examined objectively and according to the unique situations and/or circumstances for how these bike shares came to be in the first place. In Metro Manila, the bike share program by the students at the sprawling University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City is a recent one but is very popular with students. Another, more endowed program in a more posh district in Taguig City is much less successful judging from the usually full racks of bicycles. There are also lessons to be learned here and perhaps things that can be shared with others looking to come up with their own bike share programs in their cities and towns.

Another look at Marcos Highway pedestrian overpasses – Part 2

I purposely didn’t include the overpasses at and near the Masinag Junction because I felt they deserved their own article. For one, the area will be the location of the future end station of the current LRT Line 2 Extension project. Here are a couple of photos of the overpasses in the area.

img_3278Overpass at SM City Masinag – note the tall columns for the elevated tracks of Line 2. Will the Masinag Station be located that high or will it be at a lower level, perhaps closer to the SM City overpass?

The overpass at SM City Masinag is something that has been replicated in many other locations where an SM mall has been constructed. Note the similarity of the situation with the likes of SM City Iloilo, SM City Novaliches where SM built pedestrian facilities to allow for safe crossings between the mall and the area across from it along the highway. In many cases, it is the mall which provided the overpass in coordination with the local government unit and, I assume, the DPWH.

img_3279Overpasses at Masinag Junction – there are actually 4 bridges here, each spanning one leg of the junction.

One of the intents for these is to eliminate at-grade pedestrian crossings at the junction. While crossing have been reduced significantly, there are still many “pasaway” who cross even when there is a green light for vehicular traffic along the leg they are crossing. Traffic enforcers here are quite lax about this and don’t seem to put in an effort to inform people about the overpass. There is no excuse for those who might claim they are too old or weak to climb the steps since the overpass has 4 working elevators for those unable to make the stairs. I noticed though that most of those using the elevators are able bodied people who probably are just too lay to take the stairs.

Another look at Marcos Highway pedestrian overpasses – Part 1

My daily commute allows me to have a look at the progress of the LRT Line 2 Extension construction. I also became curious about the situation of the pedestrian facilities along Marcos Highway particularly the crossings since many at first seemed to be affected by the elevated rail structure that was to be built. Now, we already have a good idea of the fates of these pedestrian overpasses. This article shows the conditions/situation of pedestrian overpasses (also called footbridges) along Marcos Highway.¬†Most overpasses are not covered; exposing pedestrians to the elements. Most are also made of steel, which can be traced to the MMDA’s (and later the DPWH’s) preference for these structures.

img_3227Overpass near Filinvest East-Vermont Park gates – the overpass actually is between a technical college and the commercial building across from it.

img_3228The overpass across from Vermont Royale in front of a new Shell service station was actually among the newest facilities along Marcos Highway. Apparently though, it was built without considering the impending construction and design of the Line 2 extension. As such, the overpass needs to be modified or would have to be reconstructed elsewhere near the area.

img_3229Overpass at Town & Country Executive Village that is also near the San Benildo School

img_3230Overpass at Marcos Highway-Felix Avenue-Gil Fernando Avenue intersection – is probably the busiest among the pedestrian overpasses as it is at a busy junction where there are major commercial establishments (i.e., malls) and where many public transport routes converge.

img_3231Robinsons Metro East overpass – this one also survived the clearance requirements with respect to the elevated superstructure for the Line 2 extension. However, since one of the two stations to be built will be nearby if not right across (part of the station at least) from the mall, then the station itself may function as an overpass.

img_3232Overpass at De la Paz – note the ramp for bicycles and wheelchairs. This is one of the more bike- and PWD-friendly facilities along Marcos Highway. The slope is gentle enough for pedestrians, too, especially senior citizens who might have difficulty with steps.

img_3233Overpass at Ligaya – this one also has ramps that make it easier for people to use to cross the busy highway. This will eventually be the closest overpass to the huge Ayala mall (Feliz) currently under construction at the Marikina side of Ligaya. I suspect that there might be a need for another overpass to be built with respect to the mall for one to directly serve the mall’s customers.

img_3234Line 2 Santolan Station overpass connects the Marcos Highway westbound public transport stop with the rail station along the eastbound side of the highway.

img_3235A closer look at the Santolan Station overpass, which is used by a lot of Line 2 passengers who cross the highway to continue on their journeys/commutes via train from their origins in Rizal, Marikina and Pasig. During the mornings, the observer will see a lot of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles emptying of passengers who cross the bridge to get to the station.

img_3236Santolan footbridge – this is actually more complicated than what is seems in the photo because the steel footbridge also connects to the SM City Marikina overpass (which is not included in this compilation but is visible in the photo). The footbridge branches to provide and almost direct connection between the mall and the Line 2 Santolan Station. That structure is shown at

img_3237Monte Vista footbridge allows people to cross Marcos Highway (at its Marikina/Quezon City end) to and from A. Bonifacio Avenue, which is in Marikina City (Barangka) 

More on pedestrian overpasses in the next post!

Tutubi bike share at BGC

I had been curious about the ADB-supported bike share initiative they called Tutubi since it was launched at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in Manila and at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. These have sophisticated portals where one can rent a bicycle by simply swiping or tapping your card unto the terminal. I finally noticed the bike station at Bonifacio High Street in BGC. I don’t know how I missed it since we are there weekly but then there are usually events in that area and the bike share station may have been obscured. Following are a few photos I was able to take as I watched our toddler walking about curiously and excited of the fountains and others she found interesting at High Street.

img_3080All the bikes seem to be here as not a slot was vacant.

img_3082It seemed ironic to see not one bike in use against the backdrop banners of a popular motoring magazine.

img_3081A closer look at the portal shows what looks like a new (unused?) facility.

It seems to me that there are few users of the Tutubi at least at Bonifacio High Street. I wonder if the bikes at UST are utilized more than the ones at BGC. I also wonder if UST is monitoring or studying bicycle use in its campus. Its use being limited within the premises of the campus sort of restricts users and diminishes utility. UST has a walkable campus and while its area is big (20+ ha) compared to other universities and colleges in the University Belt district, it is smaller beside Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University¬† (80+ ha) and the University of the Philippines (493 ha). The latter two are also “walkable” with UP having more park-like features and open to the public.

UP Diliman has its own Bike Share program run by students and (I might come as biased) these seem to be popular on campus as I see many of the bikes used by students to go around from one building to another. UP Bike Share currently employs a more conventional system including subscriptions for frequent users. There is, however, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded project through the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute of UP Diliman that hopes to develop a more sophisticated system for managing and monitoring the bikes. That project has just started so we might wait 1 to 2 years to see its fruits.

Research topics for transportation engineering and planning for 2016-2017?

I observed from my site’s statistics that there have been a lot of interest on research topics in transportation engineering and planning. I regularly post on the undergraduate research topics our students have engaged in. At this point in the first semester of the current 2016-2017 academic year, topics have not yet been assigned and we have only learned how many students have been assigned to our research group. As such, we are still in the process of determining who takes on which topic. Following are topics we have identified in addition to those that had no takers the previous semesters:

Traffic engineering

  1. Anatomy of congestion along EDSA
  2. Anatomy of congestion along C-5
  3. Segregated lane for motorcycles
  4. Impacts of the MMDA’s truck lane policy along C-5
  5. Congestion study in the vicinity of UP Town Center
  6. Assessment of through traffic for the UP Diliman campus

Public transportation

  1. Connectivity study for UP AGT and MRT 7
  2. Feasibility of bus services beyond Masinag junction
  3. Characterization of Internal Public Transportation Operation in UP Diliman and Viability of Introduction of Electric Vehicles
  4. Modelling the Public Transport System of UP Diliman Campus Using CUBE Travel Demand Software
  5. Estimation of Passenger Demand for New Transit System for UP Diliman Using Discrete Choice Model
  6. Characteristics of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines [Habal-habal, skylab, etc.]

Road safety

  1. Severity of injuries of motorcycle riders (helmet and non-helmet users)

Pedestrian & non-motorised transport

  1. A study on walkability along Ortigas Avenue
  2. A study on the characteristics of bike share users in the UP Diliman campus

Transport & Environment

  1. Assessment of Roadside Air Quality along C.P. Garcia Avenue in the Vicinity of UP-ICE Compound

Other topics

  1. Study on the mobility of PWDs in Metro Manila
  2. Assessment of ridesharing in the context of sustainable transport

I’m sure there are other topics but I’m not aware of the specifics at present. Also, we welcome the ideas of our students should they already have topics in mind as long as these preferably fall under the research agenda of our Institute. The topics listed above may appear to be specific but these are still basically very general and can be refined after the students establish their scope and limitations. They can only do that once they have undertaken a decent enough literature review for them also to have a more firm appreciation of their chosen topics. I will post again on this later this year when students would have already put in substantial work on their research proposals (i.e., the objective for this semester).