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Article on housing and transportation

Here’s another excellent piece from Todd Litman about the dynamics of housing and transportation. This is a very relevant topic in many cities today and especially so for those like Metro Manila, which is struggling with issues pertaining to affordable housing and transportation infrastructure and services. Arguably, a lot of households are spending more than the 45% threshold of incomes mentioned in the article but people continue to get homes away from the city as these are relatively cheaper than those closer to their workplaces and schools. Unfortunately, transportation costs are on the rise and congestion and a lack of an efficient transport system are among the culprits for what many have already labelled as undignified and atrocious costs of commuting.

Litman, T. (2018) “Affordability Trade-Offs,” planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/99920?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-08092018&mc_cid=e2a69b6eb4&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 8/9/2018]

I envy the guy for being able to present these topics clearly. It is a complex subject and one that isn’t understood by many in government who are supposed to be responsible for crafting and implementing policies and programs to address issues pertaining to affordable housing and commutes. I wonder if Todd is coming over for the ADB Transport Forum. He’s make for a good resource person in some of the sessions there and perhaps can also be invited to speak about this and other relevant and urgent topics in a separate forum. Anyone out there care to sponsor him?

Why does it seem to be congested on the way out of BGC?

Why does it seem like its more congested in BGC nowadays especially during the afternoon peak hours when people are heading home from work? The simple answer to the question may be found in the set-up of barriers from the exit ramp of the flyover from Market! Market! I took some photos of the situation the wife related to me. This was along her regular commute and now she avoid the area; taking the Kalayaan route instead and using the U-turn flyover to get to the northbound side of C5.

Familiar scene along C-5? What’s new here is that authorities have extended the barriers from the foot of the flyover from BGC and effectively blocked vehicles from merging early with C-5 through traffic.

It doesn’t seem obvious but 2 lanes of vehicular traffic merge into 1 lane in order to merge left.

Most vehicles are northbound. The sign in the photo points to which lanes to take if you are northbound (Pasig) or turning towards Pateros. The U-turn flyover effectively blocks traffic from the rightmost lane (including those along the service road) from merging with northbound traffic in the inner lanes.

Note the the barriers segregating northbound traffic from Pateros-bound traffic.

I think this is a simple case where the barriers shouldn’t have been extended the way they are now and restricting space for merging. The effect on C-5 traffic is minimal while causing unnecessary congestion along the flyover and into BGC. What seems like a solution to some (i.e., certain people in authority) clearly leads to more problems – in this case more congestion.

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.