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Metro Manila Urban Transport Development Plan (1990-2000) Project (UTDP)

I stumbled upon an unfinished draft I have on a study or series of studies conducted back in the 1990’s. These studies were conducted by several agencies over a decade. I think I have been procrastinating on finishing this brief post on a project that has had a major impact on Metro Manila transport and traffic since that time and prior to the completion of the JICA-funded Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration Study (MMUTIS) in 1999. The project actually overlapped with MMUTIS’ implementation from 1996-1999 and probably influenced MMUTIS in terms of what government agencies provided as inputs to the study.

The Metro Manila Urban Transport Development Plan (UTDP) is an inter-agency collaboration among the DOTC, DPWH, MMA (precursor of the MMDA), NEDA, CHPG (Constabulary Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police) and MTPC. This consists of various studies undertaken from the year 1990 to 2000 aimed to determine what projects can be implemented to improve urban transport in Metro Manila towards the turn of the century. Sounds familiar?

Among the most relevant studies conducted was the comparison of proposals for a mass transit system along EDSA. The two proposals compared were the Philtrak bus system and Street-level LRT. The Philtrak option is quite intriguing because its description is very much like the current bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in many cities around the world. However, there is no reference to bus systems already operating abroad at the time (e.g., Curitiba in Brazil already had an extensive BRT network at the time).

The study concluded that the Philtrak was preferable to the LRT along EDSA. Of course, we now know what got built along EDSA – a light rail system (EDSA MRT) that is now carrying more than twice the number of passengers it was estimated to carry. This is despite the conclusion from collaborating government agencies including the DOTC favoring the bus system with an exclusive ROW. It is also now obvious that neither the LRT nor Philtrak is most suitable as a mass transit system along EDSA. What is most appropriate is a heavy rail system that would be able to carry more passengers along the corridor.

[Reference: UTDP reports, 1999-2000, NCTS Library, UP Diliman]

The old railway station at Hinulugang Taktak

The Antipolo City Government recently re-opened the Hinulugang Taktak park to the general public. The National Park and its famous waterfalls have seen better days and is part of Antipolo lore, immortalized in songs and stories about the pilgrimage city. It has been rehabilitated with various initiatives the past few years and with the water again flowing strongly compared to the trickles of dirty water over a decade ago.

Somewhat lost in the promotion of Hinulugang Taktak is a piece of transport history. I am referring to the old railway station located near the gate to the national park. The most convenient and probably most comfortable way to Antipolo and its two main attractions, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and Hinulugang Taktak, many decades ago was by railway. Roads and road transport was not as good as today’s. There were no highways like Ortigas or Sumulong. There were no aircon buses, no jeepneys (yet) and cars and motorcycles were not affordable to most people.

IMG10125-20150214-1335Old sign? There is no formal historical marker for the former railway station at Hinulugang Taktak. I think the National Historical Commission of the Philippines should recognize this as a local if not national heritage site.

IMG10130-20150214-1338Trees notwithstanding, this is the view from what used to be the platform of the railway station.

IMG10132-20150214-1339An old drinking fountain that’s probably survived the passing of time and witnessed a lot about the old railway station and Hinulugang Taktak.

IMG10133-20150214-1339What’s left of the former railway station structure are the platform and columns.

IMG10134-20150214-1340Taktak Road was the old Daang Bakal or railroad. Much have changed since the glory days of rail with a line that connected Antipolo with Manila.

IMG10135-20150214-1341The view from the old entrance to Hinulugang Taktak in what also looked like the old railway station’s ticket office gives people (passengers?) a glimpse of the waterfalls.

IMG10136-20150214-1341The old entrance to Hinulugang Taktak.

Someone asked me before if I thought it was possible for old railway lines to be revived. I replied honestly that I thought it was possible but immensely difficult. For one, a lot has changed in the lands on and along which the old railways used to be. The old Daang Bakal, for one, now passes through private residential subdivisions and industries and is now comprised of busy roads. While nothing is impossible, to rehabilitate the old railways will be a great challenge in the financial and social sense. It would be nice to see realized but requires so much from so many people, agencies and local governments who need to commit to such a project. And it requires leadership and a talent for convincing people that it is the right thing to do and that it needs to be done.

Resurrected bus companies

I posted something recently on an old bus line plying routes between Rizal and Metro Manila. I mentioned there about bus companies somehow being resurrected many years after what I thought were my last sightings of their buses. Of course, it is known that some bus companies have closed shop for one reason or another including what was a government-owned and operated Metro Manila Transit Corporation that used to operate the popular Love Bus. One of the major causes for bus companies folding up is labor problems. Among those that reportedly succumbed to this were Philippine Rabbit, Pantranco and BLTB Co. A few years ago, however, we was surprised to see a familiar bus along the South Luzon Expressway but upon closer look, we found that it wasn’t the old BLTB Co. that was written in the livery but DLTB Co.

BLTB Co. stood for Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas Bus Co. The name alludes to the provinces served by their buses including Tayabas, which eventually became Quezon and Aurora provinces. Their terminal was landmark along EDSA in Pasay City. It is still there along the southbound side and near the junction with Tramo. That will be just beside the left turn overpass from EDSA to Tramo and towards NAIA.

IMG10097-20150211-1255The livery on this bus is very familiar to many who rode on the old BLTB Co. buses many years ago. Was this deliberate from the owner/operator who obviously wanted to use this to their advantage? People are still familiar with the BLTBCo logo and brand so seeing these buses evoke memories of long distance travel back in the day.

There were few large bus companies in the old days. Among them were Victory Liner, Dangwa, Philippine Rabbit, Pantranco and BLTB Co. Victory, Dangwa and Philippine Rabbit served routes to the north of Manila while Pantranco plied both northern and southern routes. The latter company eventually split into Pantranco and Philtranco, with the northern routes under Pantranco (whose terminal was along Quezon Avenue where Fisher Mall now is located) and the southern routes under Philtranco (terminal is still there along EDSA in Pasay City). Pantranco is no more but Philtranco survives despite the current competition from many other bus companies plying routes south of Metro Manila.

Dangwa’s terminal was in what is still now being referred to as Dangwa in Manila, where you can get all the flowers you’ll need for all occassions. It was, after all, the “bagsakan” of flowers from the north, particularly from Baguio City. Victory’s old terminal is still the one in Pasay though it now has a couple in Cubao. It has expanded its points of destination and is perhaps the largest firm now operating north of Metro Manila.

The Philippine Rabbit Bus Co.’s terminal was at the northbound side of EDSA in the Balintawak area. It has a curious story about it; the stuff of urban legends. The name of the bus company is supposed to be Philippine Rapid Transit (another and real bus company). One time they asked their new buses to be painted, the instructions were misunderstood. “Rapid” sounded like “Rabbit” and that stuck to this day. They also had a labor problem and did not operate for a while until they resolved these issues with their drivers and conductors.

The Metro Manila Transportation Planning Study II (JUMSUT II)

Similar to the previous JUMSUT Phase I, the recommendations of Phase II focused on route structure planning and improvement for road public transport to avoid unnecessary competition between LRT, bus and jeepney. Recommendations for route structure planning included the modification of route schemes for the central eastern sector of Metro Manila mainly to alleviate traffic congestion and improve schedules. The study reiterated the recommendations of Phase I.

IMG09224-20140904-1027

Following are more photos showing the recommendations of JUMSUT II:

IMG10025-20150113-1432 IMG10026-20150113-1432

[Reference: JUMSUT II Final Report, NCTS Library, University of the Philippines Diliman]

The Metro Manila Transportation Planning Study I (JUMSUT I)

I continue with the series of posts I had started last year on past studies conducted for Metro Manila. It is important to review these studies in order for us to understand how transport in the metropolis came to be how it is now. I believe there are many lessons to be learned and history does not need to repeat itself (although as we can see, it has in as far as transport in Metro Manila is concerned).

The Metro Manila Transportation Planning Study better known as the JICA Update on Manila Study on Urban Transport (JUMSUT) was conducted in two phases, the first one from November 1982 – March 1984 and the second from June 1984 – March 1985, respectively, as a follow-up to MMUTSTRAP. JUMSUT focused on studies to support the implementation of the LRT Line 1 project along Rizal and Taft Avenues.

IMG09223-20140904-1027

Recommendations of the first phase are mostly on the rerouting of public transport vehicles along LRT corridor and the traffic management required for the construction and eventual operation of the LRT Line 1. The rerouting is presented as a necessity to avoid unnecessary competition between LRT, bus and jeepney as well as to achieve balanced mode share among LRT, bus and jeepney along the corridor. Following are photos showing a summary of recommendations for JUMSUT I.

IMG10023-20150113-1431

 

IMG10022-20150113-1429

[Reference: JUMSUT I Final Report, NCTS Library, University of the Philippines Diliman]

Next: JUMSUT II

Some thoughts on transportation heritage in the Philippines

There have been a lot of buzz about heritage conservation and especially the past few weeks about certain buildings in Manila. A lot has been written about this in newspaper columns and blogs, and there have been features on television about heritage conservation focused on buildings, mostly houses, in Negros, Cebu and Panay. Of course, the most prominent heritage project has just been recognized as a wonder of the world in the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. I think another area for consideration in heritage discussions is transportation. We do have a lot of historical routes consisting of roads, railways and even trails that could be preserved or enhanced and not just for commercial purposes but more importantly for the current and coming generations to remember and learn about history and heritage.

The availability and accessibility of such tools like GIS, GPS and aerial photography using drones make it possible to do studies and documentation of transport routes such as the old rail line to Antipolo, the PNR’s Main Line North, the Bataan Death March, and even Aguinaldo’s retreat to Palanan, Isabela. There are also pilgrimage routes linked to the most popular shrines in the country like those in Baclaran, Quiapo, Antipolo, Cebu, Penafrancia and Manaoag.

The PNR and Panay Railway lines are good starting topics for transport heritage studies that may lead to some form of conservation. Following are a few photos taken back in 2006 when we surveyed the alignment for what was supposed to be Phase 1 of the Northrail project. The activities were preparatory for transport surveys that would have provided data that were to be used as inputs to estimating passenger demand for the railway line.

IMG_0091Remaining structures of an old PNR bridge in Bulacan.

IMG_0103Old PNR station in Bulacan – I can’t recall if this were in Marilao or Bocaue but the red brick building reminded me of similar rebuilt and preserved buildings in Japan such as Tokyo Station and the warehouses at Aka Renga in Yokohama.

IMG_0116PNR Malolos Station back in 2006 – the building was occupied by informal settlers at the time.

A good reference for those interested in railway heritage and its conservation is a book entitled “The Colonial Iron Horse” by Arturo Corpuz and published by the University of the Philippines Press. There’s a lot of material in that book to get one started about rail history in the Philippines particularly for the island of Luzon and the two main lines of the PNR – the Main Line North and the Main Line South, which I have written about in previous posts. These could be good topics for interdisciplinary studies involving historians, sociologists, anthropologists, architects, engineers and specialist in other disciplines.

The Metro Manila Urban Transportation Strategy and Planning Project (MMUTSTRAP, 1983)

I continue on my feature on past studies on transport in Metro Manila. The Metro Manila Urban Transportation Strategy and Planning Project (MMUTSTRAP) was conducted from November 1982 to April 1983, with support from the Australian Development Assistance Bureau – the precursor of AusAID. The study was conceptualized by a Metro Manila Transportation Policy Committee that consisted of the Ministers of the then Ministry of Transportation and Communications (now DOTC) and Ministry of Public Works and Highways (now DPWH), the Vice Governor of what was the Metro Manila Commission (now MMDA), and the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police (now PNP). The Philippine Government-funded study examined alternative futures on Metro Manila’s development and used these as the basis for formulating alternative futures for public transport modes. These futures did not mention UTSMMA and its the recommendations for an RTR but presented pessimistic, most likely and optimistic scenarios for PNR, LRT bus and jeepneys.

The study examined recommendations of past studies, most specifically the more recent MMETROPLAN and MMUTIP. MMUTSTRAP seem to contradict MMETROPLAN’s recommendations to encourage the entry of new bus and jeepney operators rather than restricting or controlling these as it (MMUTSTRAP) concluded that “deregulation is not a viable alternative for urban public transportation in Metro Manila.” It further explained that deregulation is justified on the assumption that the main objective in urban public transport is simply to make it a profitable business. To the contrary, the study pointed out that there are other objectives such as adequate service to the public and safety, which should be placed above profitability. This last statement reverberates over the decades to the present when it seems to many that the objective of urban public transport is more on the “profit side” rather than the “adequate and safe aspect” of something that it supposed to be a public service.

The study explored strategies for traffic management and various travel demand management (TDM) measures including area traffic restraint similar to what Singapore had already implemented at the time. A significant output of MMUTSTRAP was a prioritization plan for transport projects and policies for Metro Manila. This included the ranking of projects for implementation in Metro Manila such as:

  • Pending road projects
  • Potential road projects
  • Urgent traffic signals
  • Potential pedestrian projects
  • Potential transit projects
  • Terminal projects

Examples of the transport projects ranked by MMUTSTRAP are shown in Tables A and B for pending road projects, and potential transit projects. An index was developed based on perceived importance of the project and the associated costs.

Table A – Ranking of pending road projects identified in MMUTSTRAP (1983)

Brief description Rank Index
Visayas Avenue extension: Elliptical Road to C-6 1 66.4
Mindanao Avenue Extension: North Avenue to C-6 2 66.1
C-5 construction: MacArthur Highway to North Expressway 3 64.0
Makati-Mandaluyong Link Road 4 61.4
Loop Road: from Bicutan to Alabang 5 61.2
C-6 construction: North Expressway to M. Marcos Avenue 6 61.1
Widen R-10: C-1 to Dagat-dagatan Spine 7 60.7
C-3 construction: Rizal Avenue to G. Araneta Extension 8 60.5
C-3 improvement: G. Araneta to Aurora Boulevard 9 59.5
Widen South Superhighway 10 58.7
C-4 interchange with Boni Avenue 11 58.6
C-5 construction: R-4 to Pasig Boulevard to Aurora Boulevard 12 58.5
R-4 construction: EDSA to Pasig/Pateros 13 57.9
R-5 construction: Kapasigan to Taytay Diversion 14 57.7
C-5 construction: North Expressway to Aurora Boulevard 15 56.2
C-3 works: Ayala Avenue to Tripa de Gallina 16 55.9
C-3 construction: N. Domingo to Ayala Avenue 17 55.7
Widen Domestic Road: MIA Road to Airport Road 18 55.5
C-4 extension: Taft Avenue to Roxas Boulevard 19 55.3
C-4 interchange with Roosevelt Avenue 20 55.2
C-4 interchange with Ortigas Avenue 21 54.7
C-4 interchanges with Ayala Avenue and Pasay Road 22 54.1
C-4 interchange with Santolan Road 23 53.7
C-4 interchange with Kamias/East Avenue 24 53.2
C-4 interchange with Buendia Avenue 25 52.2
C-5 construction: R-4 to South Superhighway 26 52.1
Widen Parañaque to Sucat Road 27 51.8
Re-align western 1.6 km of Zapote-Alabang Road 28 49.3
R-10 Construction 29 49.1

Notes: The codes C and R stand for Circumferential and Radial, respectively, and refer to the main road network of Metro Manila. These roads are more commonly known by other names such as, for example, EDSA (C-4), Aurora Boulevard (R-6) and España Boulevard (R-7).

Table B – Ranking of potential transit projects identified in MMUTSTRAP (1983)

Brief description Ranking based on assessment by project team Ranking based on evaluation from selected MOTC panel Index
Bus replacementa 1 1 55.6
PNR Commuter additional coaches and upgrade 2 2 50.8
LRT Line #2 – EDSA 3 3 44.4
Surface tramway – Radial road along Españab 4 43.9
LRT Line #3 – Radial along España 4 5 43.0

aAssumed that additional bus units will not be needed in the next 5 years with replacements likely after 1987.

bProject proposed by one of the members of the MOTC panel. This was treated as an alternative (on a mutually exclusive basis) to LRT Line #3, rather than an independent project for ranking.

[Reference: MMUTSTRAP, 1983 – NCTS Library]

Earlier studies recommended projects but did not show lists ranking projects in terms of an objective index or criteria. MMUTSTRAP did a good job in coming up with this idea or basis that was transparent and objective in evaluating projects. The criteria, however, is based mainly on perception of those involved in the study and, arguably, such perceptions may vary according to the knowledge and experiences of those involved in the evaluation. This is where the biases lie in as far as project prioritisation was concerned for this project. Perhaps a more participatory approach could have been conducted? Of course, it can be argued that at this time, both capacity and capability of local governments and national agencies were quite limited and so these have to be dependent on consultants (i.e., the study team) for their assessment and recommendations.

Metro Manila Urban Transport Improvement Project (MMUTIP, 1981)

[Important note: I have noticed that the material on this blog site has been used by certain people to further misinformation including revisionism to credit the Marcos dictatorship and put the blame on subsequent administrations (not that these also had failures of their own). This and other posts on past projects present the facts about the projects and contain minimal opinions, if any on the politics or political economy at the time and afterwards. Do your research and refrain from using the material on this page and others to promote misinformation. I suggest you go to the The Mass Transit System in Metro Manila site for more facts about railway development and history. I do not consent to the use of my articles for the purposes of misinformation and historical revisionism. 10/13/2019]

We continue with our historical features on transport with the Metro Manila Urban Transport Improvement Project (MMUTIP). MMUTIP was implemented from July 1980 to August 1981 with funding from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of Japan. MMUTIP recommended for a new franchising system to be adopted by the then Board of Transportation (BOT), with standards covering citizenship, route opening, operating performance and financial capability. It also called for the adoption of measures that will safeguard the integrity of franchise records and the speedy processing and better control of franchise applications. The BOT is the precursor of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

IMG09225-20140904-1028

Additional bus routes were identified by the study and recommended for 5,900 units for daily operations. The study estimated that as much as 1,870 additional units were required for Metro Manila. Meanwhile, the study found the operations of the Metro Manila Transit Corporation (MMTC), the government owned bus company, unprofitable and stated that the government-run company has failed to define objectives and policies particularly in specifying the extent to which MMTC will render public service at the sacrifice of profit (note that MMTC was losing money in part because it was serving missionary routes so as to reduce direct competition with the private companies). I think looking back now, this was perhaps the beginning of the end for MMTC. Some people say that we could probably have used something like the MMTC today to keep public transport operators honest in their operations and also to continue providing services for missionary routes rather than letting these be served by tricycles and jeepneys that will eventually would have to be granted franchises. As it is, such situations often lead to poorly planned transport services including the (mis)determination of the number of PUV units required to serve an area or corridor.

MMUTIP recommended for the control of entry and operation of jeepneys along major bus routes while at the same time calling for a deregulation of entry and operations outside major thoroughfares, which were served or are more suitable for buses. Further, the study called for encouraging tricycle services where bus and jeepney routes are scarce while also stating that these should be limited to local or feeder services. Then as now, tricycles are restricted from national roads.

[Note: A copy of MMUTIP may be found at the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) Library located at their building along Apacible Street at the University of the Philippines Diliman. This is not a public library so access is limited to UP staff and students. Researchers and others from outside UP would have to write to the Director for permission to use the library and its holdings.]

Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (MMETROPLAN, 1977)

[Important note: I have noticed that the material on this blog site has been used by certain people to further misinformation including revisionism to credit the Marcos dictatorship and put the blame on subsequent administrations (not that these also had failures of their own). This and other posts on past projects present the facts about the projects and contain minimal opinions, if any on the politics or political economy at the time and afterwards. Do your research and refrain from using the material on this page and others to promote misinformation. I suggest you go to the The Mass Transit System in Metro Manila site for more facts about railway development and history. I do not consent to the use of my articles for the purposes of misinformation and historical revisionism. 10/13/2019]

In a previous article, I had written about the Urban Transport Study for the Manila Metropolitan Area (UTSMMA), which was completed in 1973 and proposed, among others, a rapid rail transit network for Metro Manila. The government proceeded to undertake a feasibility study for the first line of that network almost immediately afterwards. However, something happened a few years later that effectively contradicted UTSMMA’s recommendations and, from what the documents available to us now suggest, effectively doomed the future of transport in Metro Manila.

The Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (MMETROPLAN) was implemented from January 1976 to February 1977. It was apparently commissioned by the Philippine Government, and funded by the World Bank, which commissioned the precursor of Halcrow Fox to do the study with a steering group comprised of senior government official dealing with transport at the time.

IMG09218-20140904-1013

The MMETROPLAN project team is shown in the photo below. Note the inclusion of some familiar names particularly from the DPWH and DOTC who were then with what was the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (DPWTC) and Department of Public Highways (DPH) before these were reorganised. Note, too, a familiar name under Planning, who is very much active today with his own advocacies.

IMG09219-20140904-1015

The study is more expansive in terms of scope as it included components on land use and development planning for Metro Manila. It identified three main strategies to address issues on traffic congestion and public transport requirements, namely:

  • Cordon pricing,
  • Bus lanes, and
  • LRT

Short-term recommendations focused on bus and jeepney operations, recommending that:

  • Standard buses (non-airconditioned) be designed for more standing passengers and charge a fare affordable by the poor;
  • Premium buses (including Love Bus) be designed for seated passengers and charge a higher fare; this may be used to cross-subsidize Standard bus operations;
  • Metro Manila Transit Corporation (MMTC) bus operations should not be further expanded:
    • MMTC buses should operate missionary routes, which are generally unprofitable routes.
    • There should be no arbitrary exemption on franchises like in the case of MMTC.
  • In reference to private bus companies, the project states that “properly regulated competition” provides best course of action for the foreseeable future;
  • Jeepneys are suited for low demand but high frequency service

MMETROPLAN also touched on the route structure for road public transport. However, its most far-reaching recommendations on road public transport concern the issuance of franchises for buses and jeepneys. The study recommended that franchises should be issued for a period of a few years instead of 25 years and to define a minimum LOS. The study cautioned against arbitrary restrictions on franchises for buses at the time while mentioning that there were already restrictions for jeepneys. MMETROPLAN further recommended the encouraging of small operators for both jeepneys and buses.

However, MMETROPLAN deviated from the recommendations of UTSMMA in that it struck down the proposal and plans for the Rapid Transit Rail (RTR) network for Metro Manila. The long-term recommendations and conclusions of the study show these and one particular recommendation that probably doomed heavy rail transport and the RTR network is quoted below:

“Heavy Rapid Transit (HRT) would provide public transport passengers with much faster journey, but by 1990 would attract only 2.5% of motorists and would have negligible impact on traffic congestion. Partly because of this and partly because of its very high capital cost, it would be hopelessly uneconomic: the annualized capital costs would be higher than the estimated benefits in 1990…passenger flows are not high enough to exploit its full capacity…and the large savings in time for public transport passengers are not given a high value in Manila, and are not high enough to persuade motorists to change mode.

These results are conclusive, and are unlikely to be changed by any circumstances or reasonable assumptions…it is clear that any other fully segregated public transport system, whether light rail or busway, would also be uneconomic. As such systems would require the appropriation of most, if not all, of the available funds for all transport (including highways) in Metro Manila for the foreseeable future, and as there is not other rationale for their implementation, they have been rejected from further consideration.” (MMETROPLAN, 1977)

The study also did not have good words for the PNR as it concluded that its “routes related poorly to the major demands for movement” and that it would be expensive to improve the PNR at the time. PNR costs were compared to buses and jeepneys with the further concluded that these road transport modes are preferred over an upgraded PNR.

MMETROPLAN assessed the LRT vs. the Monorail in the context of cordon pricing and bus lane strategies. While the monorail was dismissed for reasons that included few monorail systems operating at the time, the study recommended for an LRT along Rizal Avenue, which was considered feasible. These conclusions and recommendations by MMETROPLAN would eventually have far-reaching impacts on Metro Manila’s transport system and the study would be among the most cited in discussions and future planning where land use and transport are discussed in the same light.

For land use planning, the report also provides us with a history of land use planning for Metro Manila, which we can now compare with what actually happened. That is, if the plans made back in the 1970’s were actually implemented and to what extent were they realised. Many of these plans remain controversial to this day and are often invoked whenever there is talk about the perennial flooding and the spectre of earthquakes threatening much of Metro Manila and its surrounding areas in addition to other issues like the transport and traffic problems experienced around what has become a megalopolis.

[Reference: MMETROPLAN, 1977 – NCTS Library]

But what could have  influenced the MMETROPLAN study team and government officials to debunk UTSMMA? Why the “about-face” for something that seems to be the JICA Dream Plan circa 1970’s? UTSMMA and the rail rapid transit network, after all, was the product of a vision for future Metropolitan Manila transport by  a visionary professor from the University of Tokyo – one Dr. Takashi Inouye of that university’s Department of Urban Engineering. I think the next article will provide us with the answers to these questions regarding the turnaround. Abangan!

Urban Transport Study in Manila Metropolitan Area (UTSMMA, 1973)

[Important note: I have noticed that the material on this blog site has been used by certain people to further misinformation including revisionism to credit the Marcos dictatorship and put the blame on subsequent administrations (not that these also had failures of their own). This and other posts on past projects present the facts about the projects and contain minimal opinions, if any on the politics or political economy at the time and afterwards. Do your research and refrain from using the material on this page and others to promote misinformation. I suggest you go to the The Mass Transit System in Metro Manila site for more facts about railway development and history. I do not consent to the use of my articles for the purposes of misinformation and historical revisionism. 10/13/2019]

With the recent approval of JICA’s Dream Plan for Mega Manila, I thought it was timely to look back at similar plans developed for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas. At the time these plans were made, I guess they were all regarded as “dream plans” in their own ways. Let us start with what is probably the original dream plan, the Urban Transport Study in Manila Metropolitan Area (UTSMMA, 1973). The project was implemented from March 1971 to September 1973 with the assistance of the Government of Japan’s Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (OTCA), the precursor of today’s Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Being the first comprehensive study for a metropolitan area that was yet to be formally consolidated and called Metro Manila, UTSMMA set the stage for future transport studies for the metropolis. Among the study’s main recommendations is one proposing for a mass transit system restricted to railways. A Rapid Transit Railway (RTR) network was recommended in the form of subways in the inner area bound by EDSA, and elevated in the suburban areas. Brief descriptions of the proposed lines are as follows:

  • Line 1 (27.1 km) – from Construction Hill to Talon via central Quezon Boulevard, Manila downtown and the International Airport
  • Line 2 (36.0 km) – from Novaliches to Cainta via Manila downtown and Pasig
  • Line 3 (24.3 km) – Along Highway 54 (C-4): half a circle route about 12 km from Manila downtown
  • Line 4 (30.1 km) – From Marikina to Zapote via Cubao, Manila downtown and the Manila Bay area
  • Line 5 (17.6 km) – From Meycauayan to Manila downtown running between Line No. 2 and PNR
  • PNR improvement (56.4 km) – From Bocaue to Muntinglupa via Tutuban Station

The following that was posted here before in another article shows a map illustrating the recommended RTR network for the Manila Metropolitan area. (Note that the map was enhanced from the original black and white to clearly show the proposed lines back then.) MM RTR map2 UTSMMA also recognized the important roles of buses and jeepneys in the future, and recommended that these be used for feeder services once the rail systems have been constructed and operational. As a result of the study, a Feasibility Study for the Manila Rapid Transit Railway Line No. 1 was conducted and completed in June 1976. The study, which was supported by JICA, noted that “the implementation should be initiated immediately” in light of the estimated heavy traffic demand along the corridor. This project could have been the first major transport project for Metro Manila if it had been implemented. Unfortunately, despite a favorable assessment in this study, the proposed RTR Line 1 was not implemented after a contrary assessment by a subsequent study, MMETROPLAN, which is discussed in the succeeding section of this report. The estimated costs of construction of recommended transport infrastructure were provided in the Final Report of the study including indicative costs and benefits of proposed urban expressways and urban rapid transit railways. [Reference: UTSMMA, 1973 – NCTS Library] Whenever I go back to UTSMMA and the network of proposed railway lines, I can’t help but wonder what could have been one of the more efficient transport systems in Asia or even in the world. What happened? Why was this plan not realised? The answer may be found in the next big study conducted for Metro Manila that also included in much detail its land use and development plans. Next: MMETROPLAN, 1977 –