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TSSP 2017 Conference

The Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) holds its 24th Annual Conference tomorrow, July 21, 2017. It will be held at the National Center for Transportation Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City. More than a hundred participants are expected to attend this 1-day affair.

The final program for the conference may be found in the following link:

The theme for this year’s conference is “Improving Quality of Life in Urban and Rural Areas Through Inclusive Transportation.” This is also the theme for the panel discussion in the morning. The afternoon will feature four parallel technical sessions where 18 papers will be presented.

The keynote lecture will be delivered at the start of the conference by Prof. Tetsuo Yai of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who is also the current President of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) under whose umbrella the TSSP is part of. TSSP is a founding member of EASTS and actually preceded EASTS by a year.

Ortigas Center walkways under construction

Currently under construction at the Ortigas Center are elevated walkways that are part of the Ortigas Greenways Project. Following are some photos I took a few weeks back (they’re old!), and so the current state should show significant progress from what is in the photos.

Elevated walkways are currently under construction at the Ortigas Center. This part can be seen along Julia Vargas Ave. at the intersection with Garnet St.

Structure at F. Ortigas, Jr.

Close-up of the F. Ortigas part of the elevated walkways

Walkway section under construction along the approach of ADB Ave./San Miguel Ave.

Crossing under construction at the intersection of Julia Vargas with San Miguel Ave. (to the left) and ADB Ave. (to the right).

View of the F. Ortigas crossing walkway along the eastbound direction of Julia Vargas Ave.

This project is perhaps one of the most hyped pedestrian facilities in Metro Manila and if I recall right, the concept for this can be traced to workshops conducted during one of the Transport Forums organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose headquarters are located in Ortigas Center. It took a while to be realized but should be completed soon. This won’t be the first of its kind in Metro Manila as Makati already has one connecting office and residential buildings to Greenbelt and Glorietta. I really do hope it is able to reduce congestion in the area but this would require studies after the facilities are opened for public use. We need more of these around Metro Manila as well as other major cities. We direly need facilities to encourage walking as a preferred mode over motorized transport.

Challenges for students commuting to/from schools

Its our first day of school for our daughter today. But unlike her, I recall that I had to wake up early when I was in grade school and high school because the ‘service’ providing transport  to and from school had to pick me up and then others. That usually meant a 5:30 AM wake up, a quick shower, dress-up (we wore uniforms) and breakfast before the ‘service’, an AUV, picked me up at home. School started at 7:30 AM and it took something like 45 minutes (depending on traffic) from our last pick-up to get to school at exactly 7:30. If our vehicle is able to finish pick-ups earlier, that meant we were assured of not being late for homeroom period. If the other kids (and there are many) are running late and we end up waiting longer for each, then we would likely be late. In many cases, our driver would have to resort to being reckless in order to make the time.

Nowadays, I think its much more difficult for kids due to the worsening traffic congestion. What was a 30 to 45-minute travel time between our home in Cainta to Pasig/Mandaluyong is now easily twice or longer that. And I am only referring to a direct trip. Even with Waze available, one can only have few options for routes between home and school.

While there are still many school ‘service’ vehicles (and not so many actually buses), many parents seem to have opted to Ateneo, for example, used to have a fleet of buses transporting students. These were replaced by AUVs and vans accredited by the school, and the many (too many?) private vehicles ferrying mostly individual students to and from their Quezon City campus.

School children have to wake up early to go to school. Some probably take their breakfasts as baon in order to save time for traveling. Some take their breakfasts at nearby eateries or fast-food restaurants.

Many children may be at risk as they are ferried to school via motorcycles and usually without helmets. In other cases, there are tricycles acting as school service vehicles. Often these are overloaded with children and their school bags.

Pedestrian facilities are also lacking in many cases and particularly in rural areas where public schools are located along highways that have no sidewalks or cities where pedestrian walkways are not built to standards for one reason or another. These are issues that need to be addressed and would be nice topics for research, especially those with practical and safety applications.

Some articles on walking, biking and transit for wellness

Here are a couple of recent articles on walking, biking and transit:

Walk, bike, and transit benefits boost people of all incomes [McAnaney, P. in Greater Greater Washington, June 13, 2017]

“Bikes are happiness machines.” Behind the Handlebars with cyclist extraordinaire Joe Flood [Maisler, R. in Greater Greater Washington, June 7, 2017]

I posted these partly for future reference but also to promote walking, biking and public transport. These are essential elements for mobility anywhere and governments should ensure that people have these as options for traveling about and not be dependent on automobiles for transport.

On low income cyclists

There are two articles that I want to share here. These are quite interesting for me as they tackle something not usually written about when it comes to cycling. The “invisible biker” referred to in one of the articles is the typical low-income cyclist. These are those who can be seen regularly using their bicycles to commute to and from their workplaces; likely to save hard-earned money for more important items such as food and shelter (rent?). They do not use fancy bicycles like those nice, branded mountain, road or fat bikes that you see being used by recreational bikers or weekend cyclists. They most likely use second-hand bikes like those surplus bicycles from Japan, or perhaps old BMX’s that have been modified to make it a bit more comfortable for the long commutes.

Quednau, R. (2017) The Invisible Bike Riders, Strong Towns,, May 2.

Koeppel, D. (2015) How Low-Income Cyclists Go Unnoticed, Bicycling,, November 9.

I think these are the bike riders that we should be providing safe bikeways for. They are the ones who most often use bicycles for their trips and are at risk of being hit by motor vehicles.

On walking and the old pedestrian overpass at UPIS

I decided to go for a long walk one day last April. I walked from our office to the UP Town Center, which was just under 2 kilometers away, to purchase something. I could have taken my car or perhaps rode a jeepney but I wanted to see for myself how easy or difficult it was to walk that distance. It turned out that it wasn’t a difficult walk at all. From Melchor Hall, I crossed the street so that I could walk  along the inner part of the Academic Oval. I then took a short cut through the trail in front of Malcolm Hall at the edges of the Sunken Garden, emerging just near the grandstand. From there, I crossed towards Vinzons Hall and then walked towards and along Shuster Street near UP Integrated School. I exited the campus at the portal at the end of Shuster and crossed Katipunan using the old pedestrian overpass that connected the main campus with what used to be UPIS on the other side of C-5.

The pedestrian overpass is an old structure compared to many of its kind around Metro Manila. The design is quite massive considering it is a concrete structure. The photo above was taken towards the direction of UP Town Center.

The steps are quite steep on either side of the overpass

Here’s a photo of a person carefully walking down the steps of the overpass.

The photo above was taken towards the direction of the UP campus.

The overpass used to be dirty, unkempt, and to many was revolting enough that it was rare to find people using it to cross Katipunan. Most people crossed the busy thoroughfare on the ground, often braving the traffic and taking on the risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Since the overpass was integrated with the UP Town Center (i.e., it is physically connected to the mall and there security personnel posted there), more people now use it. MMDA also fenced much of the median of Katipunan in the area and so the only way to cross the stretch of UP Town Center from Shuster to C.P. Garcia is via either of the two pedestrian overpasses (there’s a second, newer steel structure near C.P. Garcia).

As for the walk to Town Center and back, I thought it was safe, convenient and invigorating (nothing like some walking to help in blood circulation). I took a leisurely pace (not brisk) for my walk so I could enjoy the environment. You tend to see a lot of things when you take such walks and the campus is full of activities, sights and sounds, to help make the walk enjoyable such that you won’t even notice the time and perhaps, won’t even mind the exercise.

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: