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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 – the 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.

On conducting a national travel survey in the Philippines

There’s a nice article about the National Household Travel Survey regularly conducted by the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):

Lewin, M. (2019) “Learning from the National Household Travel Survey,” http://www.planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/102508?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-02042019&mc_cid=03588de77e&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 2/6/2019]

There is a lot to learn from such surveys and especially if historical results can be compared in order to establish trends and issues. I recall that we attempted to engage the then National Statistics Office (NSO) back in 2005 for them to include certain items in the national census but for the purpose of data collection for inter-regional passenger and freight flow. That didn’t bear fruit but perhaps it is about time to reconsider and for the Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA) to include questions specific to travel in the census.

Ideally, of course, is to have our own national travel survey where we can obtain data not just for inter-regional or even inter-provincial or inter-island passenger and freight transport characteristics. Data from a national household travel survey would give us details on a lot of things including but not limited to the following:

  • Average commute data – e.g., commute travel times & commute distances for those taking private or public transport
  • Vehicle ownership data – e.g., car, motorcycle and bicycle ownership and usage
  • Travel cost data – e.g., various cost components for traveling via private or public transport

Such information can be categorised a number of ways like according to age, gender or income. It will definitely help us understand how people travel including their perceptions and choices. It can help formulate solutions to a lot of issues, transport and traffic-related, that cities and municipalities are trying to address. Of course, this will definitely involve big data but this is not a new thing, and large data sets have been used in many transport studies including those for Metropolitan Manila (e.g., MMUTSTRAP, JUMSUT, MMUTIS, MUCEP) and the inter-regional study (SIRPAFF) we did a decade and a half ago. The advantage now is that we have more sophisticated tools for analysing such data.

Some suggestions for the bike lane along C-5/Katipunan Avenue

In the spirit of the season, here are some recommendations or suggestions (if this term is preferred) for the bike lanes drawn along Circumferential Road 5. First, rather than a token lane that will fit exactly the width of a pedicab, I suggest that an entire lane be allocated for either side of C5/Katipunan Ave. But at the very least perhaps it should be half a lane rather than a third. Second, instead of a green line that can be invisible to many during the night time and on days like this rainy Saturday, have a double yellow as a delineator. This definitely has more clout than the solid green line, which is unfamiliar to most road users. Third, the bicycle lane must be painted for it to be clearly marked for bicycles. And last, the lanes must be protected, physically, from likely encroachments of motor vehicles. Perhaps bollards can be installed similar to what Pasig has done along Julia Vargas. Here are a couple of illustrations I quickly made using PowerPoint as I updated my lecture material for complete streets.

Suggestions for the bike lane along the NB side of Katipunan Ave. (C-5)

Suggestions for the bike lane along the SB side of Katipunan Ave. (C-5).

The NB side of Katipunan is less challenging with respect to the design details required for driveways and public transport stops. That is mainly because this is where the two schools, Ateneo and Miriam, are located. The SB side is more complicated due to the way the establishments there were developed. Note the roadside parking on the photo and there are numerous driveways from the condos, shops and restaurants on this side of Katipunan. Recall that this side used to have a service road where the two outermost lanes are, and a tree lined island separate this two-way road from the main carriageway of C-5. Perhaps it would be nice to re-imagine Katipunan with this service road again. I will leave the intersection and driveway details as a challenge to my readers and students. The same for a more complete re-imagining of Katipunan Ave.

 

 

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?