Caught (up) in traffic

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On Taal and Tagaytay

We were frequent visitors to Tagaytay the years prior to the rapid commercialization and (over)development of the city. While we still go there occasionally, We have not been able to enjoy the city and its environs as much as we did before. Nevertheless, we genuinely feel for the people (the real residents but not necessarily for the carpetbaggers) of Tagaytay and other cities and towns affected by the eruption of the volcano. They deserve better and yet they should also heed the advice of science over those of politicians who have taken advantage of them and now claim innocence over what is perceived as a lack of preparedness for such a calamity.

Dawn over Taal РI took this photo from the balcony of what was our favorite bed & breakfast hotel in Tagaytay. I thought this showed a rather peaceful scene complete with the background of roosters giving everyone a wake-up call.

I had wanted to post an aerial shot of Taal volcano. I have one or more somewhere in an old folder when the planes (not sure our origin) I were on flew over the volcano. Unfortunately, these are probably in my older computers or portable drives. I will for these and post them soon.

The problem with public transport in the Philippines…

There is a collage of two photos, one taken in 1975 and another in 2019, showing buses that managed to squeeze themselves into a jam. The 1975 photo was taken at the ramp of the overpass near Liwasang Bonifacio (Quiapo, Manila). There is a commentary describing the photo that attributes ‘monstrous daily traffic jams’ to the behavior of Filipino drivers. Special mention was made of public transport drivers and the photo showed proof of this. This was 1975 and motorization had not reached the levels we are at now so the

The problems pertaining to driver behavior persist today and probably even worsened along with the general conditions of traffic in Philippine roads. I say so since the volume of vehicular traffic has increased significantly from 1975 to the present and there are much more interactions among vehicles and people that have led to a deterioration of road safety as well. Traffic congestion and road crashes are asymptomatic of the root causes of most of our transport problems. And so far, it seems we have had little headway into the solutions. The photos speak for themselves in terms of how many people can easily put the blame on poor public transport services despite the fact that cars are hogging much of the road space. And what have authorities done in order to address the behavioral issues that lead to these incidents?

Someone joked that the guy in the 1975 photo who appeared to be posing in disbelief of what happened is a time traveler. The 2019 photo shows a similar guy with a similar pose though with more people around. Maybe he can tell us a thing or so about what’s wrong with transportation in the Philippines and provide insights to the solutions to the mess we have.

New jitneys for the Cubao-Rosario route

The Cubao-Rosario jeepney route is among the older ones in Metro Manila connecting a major commercial center (Cubao) to a growth area (Ortigas Avenue corridor). The route also includes a significant part of C-5 (then called E. Rodriguez Ave.) that now has Megaworld’s Eastwood, Robinsons’ Bridgetown, and another development (joint venture between Ayala and Eton). At the corner of C-5 and Ortigas on the eastbound side is an SM project.

The route is now Cubao – Sta. Lucia (Pasig). This is not to confuse it with another Sta. Lucia, which is in Cainta. The jitneys now terminate and turnaround at the border of Cainta and Pasig between SM East Ortigas and BF Cainta. The jeepneys used to turn around near C. Raymundo and then under the Manggahan Floodway Bridge.

New vehicle but same drivers (behavior and attitude)? A driver returns to his illegally parked vehicle (it’s on the sidewalk) after what looks like him just finished answering the call of nature in the bushes beside the vehicle. Operations are basically the same with the only difference being the vehicles. The same goes with P2P buses driven by the same drivers of ordinary buses.

The old signboards of the jeepneys plying this route included Libis and Murphy, which were the area landmarks for the route. Libis is a Barangay in Quezon City where part of Eastwood is located. Murphy was Camp Murphy, the old name of what is not Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. It was a single camp during the American Period. There are still jeepneys bearing those signboards and printed at the sides of the vehicles.

TSSP 2019 Conference in Cebu City

We just concluded the 2019 version of the Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP). This year’s conference was co-organised with the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR), whose College of Engineering hosted the event. The conference included a pre-event activity – the Workshop for Young Researchers (WYRe) held on July 25, the conference proper on July 26, and the Technical Tour at the project site of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project on July 27. Here are some initial photos from the conference:

Dr. Sheilah Napalang, former Director of the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) and now Asst. Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), facilitating the Workshop for Young Researchers (WYRe).

Backdrop for the plenary sessions of the conference

Opening program speakers included (L-R) Rev. Fr. Cristopher Maspara, OAR (USJR President), Dr. Ricardo Sigua (TSSP President), Dr. Enrico Paringit (DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director). The photo also shows our co-organizers, Dr. Dennis Anthony Kilongkilong (Dean of the USJR College of Engineering) and Engr. Elvira Sales (Chair of USJR Dept. of Civil Engineering).

More photos on the conference in the next post!

One small step and a giant leap

Here’s a different kind of article that blends three of my favourite topics – transport, space and watches. Its the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. That’s the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It took a lot of calculations for men to finally reach the moon and return safely to earth. There certainly were a lot of factors that affected the trip and these are not as simple as traveling between points A and B like what we usually try to figure out for conventional earthbound transport.

Did you know the first watch on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster chronograph? They needed them and other instruments for their precision that’s required for such sensitive and demanding missions.

Subsequent versions of the moon watch have already had updated movements inside them but these Speedmasters are still the standard in as far as NASA is concerned.

There were actually 2 moon missions in 1969. The first one, Apollo 11, in July and the second, Apollo 12, in November. The next one, Apollo 13, was a failure in terms of the moon mission but succeeded in terms of the astronauts surviving what must have been a terrifying ordeal in space. If you watched the movie, there was a part there that was supposed to have happened where they used it the chronograph of their watch to time a procedure they had to do while troubleshooting their module.

Quite expensive these Omegas are. However, there’s another watch that has been officially recognised as used on a moon landing. That other moon watch is a Bulova (sorry Rolex but the watch that was supposed to have been brought to the moon was more an accessory or memento than an instrument actually used by an astronaut on the moon). Here’s a piece associated with the 4th (Apollo 15 in 1971):

Back of a Bulova moon watch model stating the mission when it was used.

Zamboanga airport departure

Before I post more about Mactan Cebu International Airport, here is the last of the recent series on Zamboanga’s airport. Here are some more photos of the airport terminal when we flew back to Manila earlier this month.

Philippine Airlines check-in counter at Zamboanga Airport

Cebu Pacific check-in counters at Zamboanga Airport

Pre-departure area

Pre-departure area

Zamboanga Airport terminal Рthe architecture 

View of runway 09-27 as the plane turns in prior to taking off

Fires as seen from the plane after we took off

Soon, I will be back in Zamboanga for some field work so that means probably some more photos of the airport and maybe street scenes or road conditions.

Some concerns about future rail ridership

Traveling along Commonwealth Avenue and Marcos Highway the past week, I both hopeful and worried about what happens after the Line 7 and Line 2 Extension finally becomes operational. Much has been said or reported about the potential of these two lines to change the way people commute; at least from the areas served by these two mass transit lines. However, how big an impact these would have in terms of actual reduction of private car use  remains to be seen.

Will there be significant decreases in the volume of motor vehicles along Commonwealth Avenue, Marcos Highway and Aurora Boulevard? Or will there be just the same traffic along these roads? The worry is based on the likelihood that those who would be taking Lines 2 and 7 would be people who are already taking public transportation and not those who have chosen to leave their cars (or motorcycles) at home.

Our students have been studying ridesharing and P2P bus operations the past few years and the conclusion has so far been a shift from one mode of public transport to what’s perceived as a better one. It’s somewhat a difficult thing to accept for advocates of public transport especially those behind TNVS, P2P buses and railways but it is what it is, and its important to accept such findings in order for us to understand what’s going on and come up with better ways to promote public transport and convince car users to use PT.

Traffic flows at the Masinag junction with the Line 2 Masinag Station and elevated tracks in the background

What is more intriguing is the proposed subway line for Metro Manila. The alignment is different from the ones identified in previous studies for the metropolis and from what I’ve gathered should have stations that serve a North-South corridor that should make for a more straightforward commute (i.e., less transfers) for those taking the subway.

Probable MM Subway alignment (from the internet)

It is another line that has a big potential as a game-changer for commuters but we won’t be able to know for sure until perhaps 5 or 6 years from now. What we know really is that there was a lost opportunity back in the 1970s when government should have pushed for its first subway line instead of opting for the LRT Line 1.