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The vehicle of the future is the bicycle!

I’m sharing yet another article I found interesting and agreeing with.

Thomson, C. (2018) “The Vehicle of the Future has Two Wheels, Handlebars, and is a Bike,” wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/vehicle-future-bike?mbid=social_fb [Last accessed: 5/14/2018].

With all the hype the hi-tech transport modes are getting, it is as if these are indeed what most people will be riding many, many years from now. Well, walking should still be there and remains as the most basic among mobility options. But then bicycles should also be a major mode, and perhaps with some innovations to boot in both the bike and the infrastructure necessary to promote its use.

On the Grab – Uber merger

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from Uber confirming what was in the news for some time then, and what was rumoured a longer while back. Uber Philippines was closing shop after merging with main competitor Grab, while the mother company also acquiring a stake in Grab. Later, I also received a message from Grab (I use either depending on availability and cost.) welcoming Uber users to Grab.

The result so far has been frustrating if not disappointing to many who have relied on Uber for commuting and the typical trips that you usually associate with taking a taxi.

Recent news revealed that Grab is using an even more punitive pricing scheme compared to Uber’s surge pricing. While the LTFRB moved to scrap this, Grab has been apprehensive, stating that this was an incentive for their drivers. There is actually another side to the concept of surge pricing that LTFRB does not or seems to refuse to understand. That is, that dynamic and more expensive fares related to congestion (or road conditions) is something that’s actually related to the concept of congestion pricing. This actually penalises the use of vehicles like private cars or taxis in favour of higher capacity transport like buses or, if available, trains.

Even more recent is the news that Grab is suspending about 500 of its drivers for excessive cancellation and/or rejection of trips. Unlike Uber before, Grab drivers have the “luxury” of knowing where a potential passenger is heading. That gives the driver the option to accept or reject a proposed fare. Uber drivers didn’t know where the potential passenger was heading and to my knowledge, was stricter with penalising their drivers. The only caveat I know is that passengers can also be penalised if the driver requests for a cancellation and the passenger obliges out of good faith (e.g., An Uber driver in Cebu requested me to cancel the request as he claimed he was caught in traffic and would be penalised if he canceled. I ended up protesting Uber penalising me 100 pesos for my cancellation. Uber did not act on it in my favour.).

The issues surrounding the Grab/Uber merger though should not be there in the first place if we had good taxi services. When I say good I am referring to the quality of service provided by taxis in Singapore and Japan. Of course, they also have good public transportation there so there’s also a case for what most people will likely be taking instead of cars and taxis (which operate similarly as cars). One wonders how and why LTFRB seems to be so strict vs TNCs while being lax with taxis. Meanwhile, DOTr is scrambling on the desperate catch-up work it has to do about mass transit lines and public transport rationalisation. Good luck to us commuters!

On old maps

I have a fascination for old maps. These include the stylised ones and even those that are considered mythical like the Piri Reis map. Here is something that’s real and old that the map enthusiasts among my readers maybe interested in:

The largest early world map

You can download versions of the map though the good ones are quite big and slow to obtain if your internet connection’s not good.

On parking issues

I am sharing this article on parking issues written by an acquaintance:

Litman, T. (2018) “Fun Parking Facts,” Planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/96957?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-01292018&mc_cid=9256109649&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed 1/31/2018].

Todd talks about parking in general and then goes into the details of issues including the costs of parking and how the allocation of land to provide for parking spaces has practically robbed us of more efficient and valuable use of such spaces. Of course, the article is about the experiences in the US and Canada but the issues are very much relevant to highly urbanised cities in the Philippines as well. Then, there are also the deficiencies of our National Building Code and its implementation, as well as local governments issuing ordinances or executive orders that may or may not improve the parking situation in their constituencies. How is parking in your area?

C-6 expansion and upgrading on the way…

The opening of the second Barkadahan Bridge prodded me to post something about C-6. It is a work in progress but currently you can see the progress that is quite noticeable unlike before. Here are a couple of photos we took while en route to BGC last weekend.

Ongoing paving along C-6 for the westbound side of the highway. The photo shows recently completed PCCP slabs for 2 lanes. Forms are visible in the photo. 

Other sections have had their base compacted and ready for concrete pouring.

As a regular user of C-6 since 2014, I am one of those who look forward to the completion of its expansion and upgrading. There is also something to look forward to for cyclists and pedestrians/joggers/runners as there is a wide bikeway and segregated walkway being constructed along the side of right side of the future eastbound side of the highway. This should encourage non-motorised traffic along this corridor that directly connects Taguig, Pateros, Pasig and Taytay and extends to serve the southern part of Metro Manila, Makati City and the province of Rizal.

Everyone’s an expert?

I wrote before about some frustrations among transport professionals who are getting smart-shamed on social media. Everybody seems to be an expert these days. And who can blame people who are quite familiar, aware or knowledgeable about transport and traffic issues, particularly along their commuting routes or where they reside or work. But then what distinguishes an enthusiast from a trained professional? What distinguishes a well-read, observant person from another who has formal training (i.e., one with a professional degree or advanced degree) and work experience? In some cases, it can simply be in terms of how articulate people are. Many engineers and planners are not so articulate (or telegenic) as certain personalities like one so-called road safety enthusiast/motoring journalist or as good a writer as one prominent and progressive landscape architect. Many probably are more into technical writing and that doesn’t translate all too well into something easily understandable or “publishable”. They may also get “lost in translation”, so to speak, should they be interviewed, preferring to sound technical rather than attempt to simplify their explanations a the “pedestrian” level.

A couple of senior transport professionals, one who was in academe but served as a government official before, and another who is a sought after consultant here and abroad, however, are pretty cool about this and just brush off the comments they get from articles where they are cited. They are established and secure about themselves and their current roles as ‘elders’ in the transportation field. They are often invited to congressional or senate hearings about transport and traffic for them to share their wisdom about current issues and proposed solutions. Others are simply not into social media and so are quite insulated from the seeming brouhaha of every other person suddenly becoming transport or traffic experts if not pundits. We all continue with our work, knowing we have a lot to do and hopefully leading to improving transport and traffic in the country.

Differences in opinions about safer roads?

I posted on a road safety-related page and suddenly there’s this guy who pounces on the post and delivers what he probably thought was an amusing commentary. From his posts, it was clear that he was one of those hard-core cyclists. I don’t want to use the word ‘fanatic’ but that is how many people would probably see him given his posts, comments and stand regarding cycling and safety. He also seems to revel in his claim to be a victim but the way he states this won’t really give him as much sympathy as he probably hopes to get. You have be more engaging and diplomatic if you want to be taken seriously whether as a stakeholder, a government official or an expert.

Everybody is certainly entitled to their own opinion (but not their own facts and that’s another story for another article that’s transport-related) about how roads can become safer for all. I say all because it is not only a concern of cyclists and motorists but pedestrians as well. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, economic status, etc. is vulnerable. And the only way we can succeed is if there is a collective effort that is fact/evidence-based and structured or organized. Cooperation is vital among various sectors and we must accept that there are many approaches, ways by which we can achieve the objective of safer roads and transport. Going hardline on one’s stand and trying to impose this on others will not get us anywhere.