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Addressing congestion due to school traffic congestion

There are two important traffic news stories yesterday:

For some reason that’s a bit surprising for many, the MMDA seems to have solved two of the most enduring issues on traffic congestion along two major thoroughfares. LSGH is along Ortigas Avenue while Ateneo is along Katipunan Avenue (C-5). Both have high trip generation rates and a significant percentage of their trip gen is comprised of private vehicles. While, Ateneo’s trip generation has led to traffic congestion due to the sheer number of trips the university attracts, the congestion due to La Salle is due to the poor traffic management and lack of parking spaces for vehicles attracted by the school.

I only wonder why it took so much time to address these problems considering the solutions mentioned in the articles are basically ones that could have been implemented years ago. In the case of La Salle, good old fashioned traffic enforcement apparently did the trick. But then, the MMDA even with the LGU constraint could have been stricter before whether when they were under Bayani Fernando (BF) or any of his successors as MMDA Chair. With Ateneo, the scheme is very similar if not the same as what BF proposed over a decade ago when he was MMDA Chair. At that time though a touchy issue was the U-turn scheme he installed along Katipunan that cost trees and the former service road on the west side of the avenue. We can only hope that these claimed ‘successes’ will be sustained and ensure smoother flow of traffic along the major roads they directly affect.

Overnight parking at the NAIA T3 multi-level parking facility

Many have been asking about the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and I had wanted to write on this but just didn’t have the material to share with readers of this blog. I had wanted to verify for myself the overnight parking rates at Terminal 3 but had not used the Terminal for my flights last year, which had me using all except Terminal 3 for my travels. Last weekend, I finally had the chance to check the parking rates as I left my vehicle at the airport for a weekend getaway before school (and work) starts for the second semester at the university.

IMG10027-20150114-0644Parking tickets issued at NAIA Terminal 3’s multi-level facility.

The parking fee is 300 pesos per night. This is a fixed rate and you don’t have to pay additional fees for when you exceeded the hour when you parked your vehicle. That is, even if you parked your vehicle at 7:00 AM the previous day and took it out at 5:00 PM the following day, you still get charged 300 pesos and NOT 300 pesos plus a charge for exceeding 24 hours parking.

For those parking at the multi-level facility, one just has to drive through the arrival level (ground) of NAIA T3 and turn right near the end of the driveway to enter the facility. I haven’t checked if the access at the departure level is open (perhaps a reader can verify this?) but they do have security checks between the parking facility and the terminal itself so people can go directly to the parking area without dropping off their companions and luggage at the terminal. You don’t have to drop-off your companions and luggage at the departure level and then go around the airport road again just so you can park your vehicle at the multi-level facility.

NAIA Terminal 3 multi-level parking

The multi-level parking facility of NAIA Terminal 3 is open. I have not been to T3 in a while and saw that the multi-level parking was operational only upon returning from a trip to Palawan last week. Last night, as I maneuvered to the open parking lot prior to fetching a friend at the airport, I was directed by airport security to the multi-level facility upon being informed that the open parking lot was already full. Following are a few photos of the multi-level parking at NAIA Terminal 3.

 IMG09541-20140930-1854The entrance and exit to the multi-level parking facility is at the end of the arrival level driveway.

IMG09543-20140930-1855Motorists should keep to the right heading towards the parking building. There are two lanes clearly marked for the entrance.

IMG09544-20140930-1855There are two booths but there is currently a desk where staff issue parking tickets to users.

IMG09545-20140930-1901Driving inside the facility, one realises that it is spacious and could handle the vehicles generated by the additional flights begin served by T3.

IMG09546-20140930-1902Not many people seem to be aware that the parking building is now operational based on the many spaces still available around the multi-level facility. Most people still use the open lot across from the terminal unless its closed off (full) and security staff direct them to the parking building.

IMG09547-20140930-1902Most driveways are 2-way and so provides good traffic circulation inside the facility.

IMG09548-20140930-1903The spaces nearest to the entrance to the terminal are obviously the first ones occupied.

While it took some time for authorities to finally open the multi-level parking at T3, it is a most welcome development considering many international airlines have been transferring operations to T3. These include Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines among others that will be using T3 as T1 is being rehabilitated. The rates are the same as the open lot (I paid PHP 40.oo for almost 3 hours parking.) and because your vehicle will be basically indoors, it is a good option for trips where you opt to leave your car at the airport (park & fly). NAIA charges PHP 200 per night but I think this is a very reasonable rate assuming that this is a more secure facility compared to the open lot.

Full airport operations at NAIA 3?

Articles came out over the last two weeks about Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 finally going on full airport operations with the transfer there of five international airlines from Terminal 1. These airlines are (in alphabetical order) Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, KLM and Singapore Airlines. I’m not really sure about the terminology or how DOTC and NAIA wanted to package their press release but wasn’t Terminal 3 already operational and does “full” really mean it being maximized or optimized?

This area will be full of people as five major international carriers transfer to Terminal 3

Prior to the transfer of the 5 airlines this August, T3 was already hosting international flights, mostly by local carrier Cebu Pacific, which is classified as a low cost carrier (budget airlines). The other major international carrier operating out of T3 was All Nippon Airways (ANA) but the latter had far fewer flights compared to CebPac.

However, my interest in this “full operations” pitch is more on the other facilities of the airport and not really about the check-in and immigration operations that I am sure have enough capacities to deal with the additional airlines, flights and passengers that will be served by T3 (most booths were not utilized considering the airport served significantly fewer international flights and passengers than T1). I am also not concerned about the other features of the airport like its shops and restaurants (a regular user of T3 would make the observation that shops and restaurants have been increasing over the past years). My worry is that the airport will not have enough parking spaces for airport users.

There is already a parking problem at T3, no thanks to poor public transport services (taxi anyone?) and the absence of anything resembling an airport shuttle or express services (e.g., Airport Limousine buses). I have written in the past about the multilevel parking facility at T3 that has not been opened for public use since the terminal became operational years ago. Granted that there might have been issues with the structure itself, authorities should have also addressed the issues while they were at it fixing the myriad problems of the terminal over the past years. Much of T3’s open parking spaces have been occupied by exclusive airport taxis (coupon taxis) and there are people who have made the observation that many of the parked cars are actually those of people gambling in the casinos of a nearby resort hotel complex. The latter story might be a bit difficult to prove unless there is deliberate data collection of some sort but can be true for some vehicles given the cheaper parking rates at the airport.

Until NAIA becomes public transport-friendly and perhaps a airport shuttle services can be provided for the convenience of travelers, parking will remain as an issue for many especially during the peak periods or seasons. And with the NAIA Expressway currently under construction, I would expect the airport terminals to be more accessible to private vehicles in the future via the elevated system, thereby generating more demand for parking. Are there already proposals for the solution to this problem or are authorities again going to be dependent on the private sector for solutions?

 

Quiapo traffic

Fridays in Manila are associated with Quiapo and the devotion to the Black Nazarene. People flock to Quiapo Church to hear Mass or pray at the Basilica, which is arguably among the most popular for Roman Catholics. Fridays are regarded as feast days dedicated to the Black Nazarene and since many people go to Quiapo Church throughout the day, there is almost always traffic congestion in the area. These days, however, any weekday is a congested day in that area what with more vehicles and more people coming to this area or just passing through.

IMG07908-20140321-1247Espana Avenue ends at its junction with Quezon Boulevard and turning left leads the traveler to the Quiapo District.  The photo shows heavy traffic along the underpass and the elevated LRT Line 2.

IMG07909-20140321-1251Quiapo Church is just beside Quezon Boulevard and jeepneys loading and unloading passengers occupy up to 3 lanes nearest to the church.

IMG07910-20140321-1251There is a door at the side of the church along Quezon Boulevard and people seem to be everywhere even the middle of the road as they walk or wait to ride a jeepney.

IMG07911-20140321-1252Historic Plaza Miranda in front of the church is witness not only to a lot of the frenzied processions during the feast day of the Black Nazarene every January. Plaza Miranda has also been a venue for many political rallies including the infamous one in the early 1970s that was among the triggers for Martial Law. On “normal” days, the plaza is home to vendors, fortune tellers and other denizens of this area.

There are other popular churches around Metro Manila that attract a lot of people throughout the year and not just during feast days. Among these are Baclaran in Pasay City (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), St. Jude in Manila, Sto. Domingo in Quezon City, San Agustin and the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila. Nearby in Antipolo is the Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. These churches are among the busiest especially on certain days of the week (e.g., Wednesdays are for Baclaran, etc.) and with the coming Holy Week, a lot of people are again expected to flock to these churches for the Visita Iglesia tradition. Hopefully, these devotions are really a manifestation of faith rather than the pretentious kind where the road trip is more touristy than religious or prayerful.

Off-street parking along Tomas Morato

Not too long ago, the Quezon City government constructed off-street parking slots throughout the city. These included spaces along major roads such as Visayas Avenue, Mindanao Avenue, Quezon Avenue, West Avenue and Timog Avenue. Tomas Morato as well as the streets connecting to it were also included in the project, which benefited many people, whether they be car-users or taking public transport. I took a couple of photos last week as the wife picked up some food at a panciteria along Morato. It was early an early afternoon so traffic was free-flowing and many parking spaces are available along the avenue. Morato is well known for having many restaurants and cafes lined up along either side of the street and during their off-periods, Morato would usually be an easy drive.

Morato1The off-street parking spaces along Tomas Morato are free and are not allocated for any specific establishment. In practice though, the spaces in front of certain restaurants, shops, banks, etc. are “reserved” by their staff for their customers/clients.

Morato2Many newer establishments along Tomas Morato have no provisions for off-street parking for their clients. This means the burden for parking continues in being passed on to the local government and, likely, at the expense of taxpayers.

I still believe that establishments that are required under law to provide at least the minimum number of parking spaces as per national building code should be made to compensate for the city’s construction of parking spaces to solve on-street parking issues along streets like Morato. I understand that they pay local taxes but that is an entirely different requirement that is not related to their being required to provide parking spaces for their customers/clients. It’s really a matter of doing the right thing for both city and these establishments but such cases are often muddled and are not tackled as the general public is usually not interested in these somewhat unpopular topic of parking.

New parking rates at NAIA

Here’s something for those who are parking at any of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s parking facilities. Here are a few photos showing the new parking rates at NAIA, effective December 1, 2013. Gone are the flat rates of old for those picking-up relatives or friends so it actually discourages people from camping out at the parking lots. Gone, too, are the low overnight parking fees of PhP 50 per night that a lot of people enjoyed for short trips on business or as tourists in local destinations or abroad.

IMG07555-20131221-1202Information on new parking rates at NAIA effective December 1, 2013 found along the left side of the approach to the parking lot entrance.

IMG07556-20131221-1203Announcement on the new NAIA parking rates just before the entrance booths of the lot

IMG07557-20131221-1250Information on the new parking rates at the exit of the lot and just before the payment booths.

It goes without saying that with the increased parking fees at the NAIA, people would expect more in terms of the quality of these facilities particularly pertaining to security and cleanliness. One cannot expect to pay for PhP 300 per night for an open parking space where one’s vehicle is exposed to the environment as well as to possible criminal elements lurking about. Of course, there is practically no competition for these parking facilities so there is a sizable captive market for NAIA parking. In my experience, and in fairness to airport management, I have not had any untoward incidents when I did leave our vehicle at the parking lots of Terminals 2 and 3. And I have done so many times before on trips to the Visayas and Mindanao, and a couple of times on trips abroad. I hope others, too, won’t have any problems with parking at the airport.