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The City of Manila has announced that it will implement a truck ban from February 10, Monday. Trucks of at least 8-wheels and 4,500kg gross weight will not be allowed to travel in Manila’s roads from 5AM to 9PM. Manila’s City Ordinance No. 8336 calls for the daytime truck ban in the city in order to reduce traffic congestion that is perceived to be brought about by trucks. 8-wheelers are likely 3-axle trucks with a 4-wheel, 2-axle prime mover pulling a 1-axle, 4-wheel (double-tired) trailer. I am not aware of the technical basis for the ordinance. Perhaps the city has engaged consultants to help them determine the pros and cons of this daytime truck ban. I hope it is not all qualitative analysis that was applied here as logistics is quite a complicated topic. And such schemes in favor of passenger transport (and against goods movement) actually creates a big problem for commerce due to the challenges of scheduling that they have to deal with. To cope with this ordinance, companies would have to utilize smaller vehicles to transport goods during the daytime. This actually might lead to more vehicles on the streets as companies try to compensate for the capacity of the large trucks that will be banned from traveling during the restricted period by fielding smaller trucks.
The latest word is that Manila has postponed implementation of the ordinance to February 24. This was apparently due to the reaction they got from various sectors, especially truckers and logistics companies who would be most affected by the restrictions. It was only natural for them to show their opposition to the scheme. Reactions from the general public, however, indicated that private car users and those taking public transport welcomed the truck ban as they generally stated that they thought trucks were to blame for traffic congestion in Manila. The truck ban will definitely have impacts beyond Manila’s boundaries as freight/goods transport schedules will be affected for the rest of Metro Manila and beyond. The Port of Manila, after all, is critical to logistics for the National Capital Region, and its influence extends to adjacent provinces where industries are located. Such issues on congestion and travel demand management measures focused on trucks bring back talks about easing freight flow to and from the Port of Manila to major ports in Subic and Batangas. There have been studies conducted to assess the decongestion of the Port of Manila as Batangas and Subic are already very accessible with high standard highways connecting to these ports including the SLEX and STAR tollways to Batangas and the NLEX and SCTEX to Subic. Perhaps it would be good to revisit the recommendations of these studies while also balancing the treatment of logistics with efforts necessary to improve public transport. After all, trucks are not all to blame for Manila’s and other cities’ traffic woes as buses are repeatedly being blamed for congestion along EDSA. In truth, there are more cars than the numbers of buses, trucks, jeepneys and UV Express combined. And the only way to reduce private car traffic is to come up with an efficient and safe public transport system. –
A few months ago, and almost right after the local elections, the City of Manila embarked on a campaign to reduce the number of colorum or illegal buses plying along the streets of the city. The result was confusion and mayhem as commuters and authorities were unprepared to deal with the sudden decrease in the number of buses (some companies even restrained all of their buses from entering Manila to protest the city’ move) and the jeepneys and UV express couldn’t handle the demand. Much of that seems to have been resolved and buses are now back in Manila; although whether all these buses are legal ones is still unclear. The city, it seems to some quarters, was only after buses with no formal terminals in the city and appeared to have made the drive to show bus companies who’s in-charge there.
Now comes a drive against jeepney drivers, particularly those undisciplined ones that are often found violating traffic rules and regulations, and endangering their passengers with their brand of driving. The result was a one-day strike (tigil pasada) of jeepneys belonging to the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations in the Philippines (FEJODAP), one of several organized jeepney groups in the country. Others like operators and drivers from Pasang Masda, PISTON and ACTO, opted not to join the transport strike. The result was a transport protest that had little impact on most people’s commutes though the group did manage to attract media attention and gave interviews to whoever cared to listen.
Not to judge Manila as I believe it has made huge strides by confronting the many urgent issues in transport in the city. Not many cities take these problems head on as Manila has done this year. However, the jury is still out there if their efforts have been effective and if these will be sustainable and not the ningas cogon kind that we have seen so much of in the past. For definitely, there are a lot of other transport issues that Manila needs to contend with including how to make the city more walkable and bicycle-friendly (not an easy task!) and how to address the excessive number of pedicabs (non-motorized 3-wheelers) and kuligligs (motorized 3-wheelers using generator sets or pumpboat motors for power) in the city. Hopefully, again, the city will be up to the task of addressing these problems along with the persistent congestion along its roads.
Transport and traffic problems take a backseat to the flooding problem during this time of the year in the Philippines. Since there are practically only two seasons (dry and wet) in the country, floods become a genuine concern once monsoon rains arrive and these are usually complicated by a high frequency of typhoons between August and November. Many major roads in Metro Manila are prone to flooding including Espana Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Gil Fernando Avenue, Ortigas Avenue, and EDSA. Flash floods often lead to traffic congestion and commuters and motorists alike would have a hell of a time traveling yet it seems very little has been done to address a situation that’s been here since the Spanish period. This is a perception by many people and a reasonable one given the historical evidence of flooding in the area and elsewhere in the country.
There are many images on the current floods in Mega Manila that one can find in various reports online and on TV. The Telegraph provides good photos for describing the situation around Metro Manila and the surrounding areas, and especially in the low-lying areas like Marikina, Malabon, Rodriguez and Cainta. These images could have been taken in any other year in the past and the images would probably be the same with slight changes in some buildings that could have been improved (e.g., additional floor?) in response to the flood experience.
Floods and possible solutions have been the topics of discussions every year and usually during this rainy season. While there have been efforts to address this problem, these are usually and obviously not enough and a more comprehensive approach is needed. Quite obviously, too, solutions that tend to dig up faults in urban planning throughout Metro Manila have led nowhere as legitimate residents and other locators in these areas are not in a position to give up their properties just like that. Relocating informal settlers and others who have encroached from waterways and other critical areas is a start but will have limited impacts in part because Mega Manila does not have a good drainage system in the first place.
Expensive as they are, engineering solutions like perhaps what Tokyo has done in this underground wonder. Of course, this example is a kind of ultimate solution and would require tremendous resources to realize. But then this is also like the transport and traffic problems we are experiencing where years (or decades) of inaction and hesitation due to resource and technical questions have led to the despicable transportation we have now The reality is that solutions will not get cheaper as we continue to balk at the cost of the required solutions. Floods and traffic will not be solved overnight. It will take years to improve the lives of many people in flood prone areas and implementing solutions should have started yesterday.
After the construction of a bikeways network in Marikina City, the city became a poster child for sustainable transport in the Philippines. The bikeways was initiated with assistance from the World Bank for the pilot route and was later expanded by the city under the leadership of its Mayors, the former MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando and his wife Marides Fernando. The bikeways were promoted as a good practice example for non-motorized transport (NMT), with the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of the University of the Philippines Diliman involving the Marikina City Bikeways Office (MCBO) in its studies and advocacy work on Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST).
Bike lanes integrated with the sidewalks along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list of bike lanes and bike ways in the Philippines. I am sure there are similar projects in other cities and I am aware that cycling is becoming more popular around the country. These are but examples of what has been accomplished so far and it is clear that we need to do more to promote cycling not just as a sport or for recreation but, more importantly, as a means for commuting. Integrating cycling into one’s daily routine is a healthy and money-saving option, and segregated bikeways and bike lanes ensure the safe travels for cyclists. This, of course, is in consideration of the little respect cyclists (and pedestrians) get from motorists who believe road space is theirs alone.
I had originally wanted to use “Clarifying issues on bus bans and terminals in Metro Manila” as the title for this post. However, I felt it was too strong a title, and one that would be more appropriate for a government agency like the MMDA or DOTC, or an LGU like Manila. More than fault-finding and criticizing government agencies and local governments, I believe we should take a closer and more objective look at the issues (or non issues?) pertaining to the Manila bus ban and the opening of the southwest provincial bus terminal for Cavite-bound buses. Following are my comments on issues raised the past weeks about the two initiatives.
Issue 1: There were no or few announcements about the implementation of the bus ban in Manila and the southwest terminal in Cavite.
Comments: While the bus ban in Manila came as a surprise to many, the move was actually a consequence of a Manila City Council resolution. Normally, such resolutions would take time to implement and would entail announcements for stakeholders. Though we will probably never know the truth or who is saying the truth about the resolution and its implementation, it is likely that bus operators already knew about the implications but decided to call Manila’s bluff and play the media and public appeal cards rather than comply with Manila’s requirements for franchised buses and terminals as they have done before in other issues like fuel prices and fare hikes.
I find it difficult to believe that the MMDA did not do its part in announcing the opening of the southwest terminal. Perhaps people thought the announcement was over a very short period? Or maybe people didn’t mind the announcement and are also at fault for paying no or little attention to the announcement? If so, then the public is also partly to blame for disregarding the announcement from the MMDA, assuming the agency won’t push through with its initiatives to implement central terminals for buses. Next up will be another southern terminal at Alabang and a northern one near Trinoma.
Issue 2: Poor transfer facilities and services including a lack of pedestrian facilities between the bus terminal and transfer point, and lack of public transport like jeepneys to ferry passengers to their destinations.
Comments: I think it’s quite clear that the MMDA and LGUs are at fault here. Despite the construction and scheduled opening of the southwest terminal, there have been limited effort in improving pedestrian facilities. Such facilities needed to be in place prior to or upon the opening of the southwest terminal and requiring all provincial buses to terminate at the facility instead of continuing to Metro Manila. People-friendly facilities could have helped people in adjusting to the new policy though walking from 100 to 200 meters is certainly not for all, especially during this rainy season. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) would have specific needs that could have been addressed from day one of operation of the terminal. One approach to “bridge the gap” between the terminal and where people could take city bus and jeepney rides could have been to modify some city bus and jeepney routes to make these closer to the terminal. Ideally, the terminal could have been an intermodal facility providing efficient, seamless transfers between modes of transport.
In the case of Manila, the jeepneys were already there with routes overlapping with buses but their numbers and capacity could not cope with the demand from the buses. Since the main objective of Manila was to weed out colorum buses, it could have coordinated with the LTFRB to check the registration and franchises of buses rather than generalizing among all buses. Perhaps Manila just wanted to make a big statement? But then this was at the expense of the riding public, which obviously got the attention of many including the media. Coordination among agencies and LGUs, however, has not been a strong suit for these agencies, and this thought leads us to the next issue.
Issue 3: Lack of coordination among LGUs and agencies in implementing transport schemes.
Comments: This issue is an enduring one and has been the topic of discussions, arguments and various fora for as long as we can remember. On one hand, the DOTC and the LTFRB should provide guidelines and guidance to local governments on transport planning and services. The agencies should be proactive in their engagement of LGUs in order to optimize transport services under the jurisdiction of national agencies and local governments. On the other hand, LGUs must accept the fact that most if not all of them are ill equipped or do not have the capacity nor capability to do transport planning much less addressing issues regarding public transport. Citing the Local Government Code and its devolution of local transport to LGUs everytime there’s a transport issue certainly won’t help LGUs solve their problems.
Issue 4: Terminals required for city buses in Manila.
Comments: There should be a terminal for city buses in Manila but not a terminal for each company. There should only be one or maybe two terminals where buses can make stops prior to making the turnaround for the return trip. There is actually a terminal in Manila, which the city can start with for city buses. This is the one just beside the Metropolitan Theater and near City Hall, which can be utilized by city buses. It is also close to the LRT Line 1 Central Station so the facility can be developed as a good intermodal terminal for land transport.
Issue 5: Colorum or illegal public transport vehicles in Manila
Comments: This is actually a problem not just for Manila but for the rest of Metropolitan Manila and the rest of the country. The colorum problem is there for both conventional and paratransit services as there are illegal buses, jeepneys, UV express, multicabs, taxis, tricycles and pedicabs everywhere. Many of these are allegedly being tolerated by national agencies and local governments with many allegedly being fielded or owned by public transport operators themselves.
In most cases, the best time to evaluate a traffic policy or scheme is NOT during its first days or weeks of implementation but after a significant time, say at least a month, after it was implemented. This is because the stakeholders, the people involved would take some time to adjust to any scheme or policy being implemented. This adjustment period will vary according to the magnitude or scope of the scheme/policy and can be quite “painful” to many who have gotten used to the old ways. Usually, a lot of comments and criticisms are quite emotional but it is clear that the collective sentiment is the result years or decades of poor transport services and fumbling by government agencies. Transport in Metro Manila is already quite complicated with routes overlapping and services competing with each other for the same passengers. Perhaps it is time to simplify transport while also in the process of optimizing and rationalizing services. I have written about this in this previous post.
More transport issues in Manila will come about should the city train its attention on other modes of transport including jeepneys, UV express vehicles, tricycles, pedicabs and kuligligs. If the city is really intent on reforming transport services within its jurisdiction, it should consider the needs of all stakeholders and especially and particularly the riding public. Transport should be inclusive, people-friendly as well as environment-friendly and there are many good practices in other cities that Manila could refer to and study for adaption and adoption for the city. If it is successful in improving transport, then perhaps Manila could be the country’s model for transformation from being the “Gates of Hell” to being a “Portal to Heaven” to residents and visitors alike.
This is a continuation of an earlier post about Manila streets. Legarda eventually becomes Pablo Casals Street and then Ayala Boulevard after the Ayala Bridge. There are many prominent academic institutions along the road including the Technological University of the Philippines and the Philippine Normal University.
Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP) has a branch along P. Casals St.
Bridge across a tributary to the Pasig River is full of shanties. This is in the San Miguel district of Manila that is near Malacanan Palace. It is between the Quiapo area and the Palace and the tributary leads to the Golden Mosque to the right.
Ayala Bridge where P. Casals Street ends and becomes Ayala Boulevard on the other side of the Pasig. I think the street lamps are quite odd and more decorative than functional. I’ve seen these at night and they look more like lanterns than street lights. At one side of the bridge (on the left in the photo) is the Isla de Balut and the Hospicio de San Jose.
Ayala Boulevard is a 4-lane, undivided road. The southwest direction (downstream) leads to Taft Avenue.
Just pas the bridge is an intersection with San Marcelino Street, which is part of a major truck route. Along San Marcelino is Adamson University and what was the old St. Theresa’s College Manila campus whose buildings have been integrated with Adamson.
A bit of trivia: These institutions (TUP and PNU) together with the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) formed the pillars of professional and technical education introduced by the Americans to a post-Spanish Philippines. TUP used to be the Manila Trade School (1901) and then the Philippine School of Arts and Trades (1910) under the Americans. The PNU was Philippine Normal School during the American Period (1901) and later became the Philippine Normal College after the Second World War (1949). The PUP was the Manila Business School (1904) and later the Philippine School of Commerce (1908) during the same period. The University of the Philippines was the first state university established by the Americans in 1908. TUP was established to provide education and training in various trades (vocational school). The PUP was established to provide education and training for business/commerce. The PNU was established to provide education and training for teachers. And UP was established to provide education and training to professionals in the fields of engineering, law and medicine.
Manila recently banned provincial and city buses from entering the city stating this is because many of them do not have franchises and/or terminals in the city. Those without franchises are the ones labeled as “colorum” or illegally operating public transport vehicles, which really don’t have a right to convey people in the first place. It’s become difficult to catch them because many carry well-made falsified documents. But it’s not really an issue if the LTFRB, LTO and LGUs would just cooperate to apprehend these colorum drivers. The LTFRB and LTO are under the DOTC, and so the agency is also responsible for policies and guidelines to be followed by the two under it. LGUs (and the MMDA in the case of MM) are tasked with traffic enforcement and so they can apprehend vehicles and act on traffic violations including operating without a franchise.
Those without terminals are both city and provincial buses. For city buses, this can be because they “turnaround” in Manila and operators do not feel the need to have a formal terminal. For example, G-Liner buses plying the Cainta-Quiapo route will stop at Quiapo only to unload Quiapo-bound passengers, and then switch signboards and proceed to load Cainta-bound passengers as they head back to Rizal. There is very little time spent as the bus makes the turnaround. It’s a different case for provincial buses, whose drivers should have the benefit of rest (same as their vehicles, which also need regularly maintenance checks) after driving long hours. Thus, if only for this reason they need to have formal, off-street terminals in the city. Following are photos I took near the Welcome Rotunda en route to a forum last Friday.
Commuters walking to cross the street at the Welcome Rotunda to transfer to jeepneys waiting for passengers to ferry to Manila.
Commuters and cyclists moving along the carriageway as there are no pedestrian or cycling facilities in front of a construction site at the corner of Espana and Mayon Ave.
Advisory for buses coming from Quezon City
Some pedestrians opt to walk on instead of waiting for a ride. Manila used to be a walkable city but it is not one at present. Many streets have narrow sidewalks and many pedestrian facilities are obstructed by vendors and other obstacles.
So, is it really a move towards better transport systems and services in Manila or is it just a publicity stunt? If it is to send a message to public transport (not just bus) operators and drivers that they should clean up their acts and improve the services including practicing safe driving, then I’m all for it and I believe Manila should be supported and lauded for its efforts. Unfortunately, it is unclear if this is really the objective behind the resolution. Also, whether it is a resolution or an ordinance, it is a fact that the move violates the franchises granted to the buses. These franchises define their routes and specify the streets to be plied by buses. Many LGUs in the past have executed their traffic schemes and other measures intended to address traffic congestion, without engaging the LTFRB or at least ask for the agency’s guidance in re-routing public transport. Of course, the LTFRB is also partly to blame as they have not been pro-active in reviewing and optimizing PT routes.
One opinion made by a former government transport official is that this is just a ploy by the city to force bus companies to establish formal terminals in the city. This will require operators to secure permits, purchase or lease land and build terminals. And so that means revenues for the city and perhaps more traffic problems in the vicinity of the terminals just like what’s happening in Quezon City (Cubao) and Pasay City (Tramo).
Transport planning is a big part of the DOTC’s mandate and both the LTO (in charge of vehicle registration and driver’s licenses) and LTFRB (in charge of franchising of buses, jeepneys and taxis) look to the agency for guidelines and policy statements they are to implement. Meanwhile, LGUs have jurisdiction over paratransit like tricycles and pedicabs. In the case of Manila, these paratransit also include the “kuligligs,” 3-wheeler pedicabs that were fitted with engines and have been allowed (franchised?) by the city to provide transport services in many streets. Unfortunately, most LGUs do not have capacity nor capability for transport planning and so are limited or handicapped in the way they deal with transport (and traffic) issues in their jurisdictions. We have always maintained and promoted the stand that the DOTC should extend assistance and expertise to LGUs and the LGUs should also actively seek DOTC’s guidance in matters pertaining to transport. There needs to be constant communication between the national and local entities with cooperation leading to better, more suitable policies being formulated and implemented at the local level.
I’m posting more photos of the streets around Mapua and Lyceum. Solana Street is behind Mapua and practically runs parallel to Muralla Street. The southeast end of the street is at its junction with Victoria Street at the Manila Science High School while the northwest end is at the junction with Muralla St. and Andres Soriano, Jr. Ave. at Plaza Espana, where located are the ruins of the Maestranza and the Intendencia.
A newly built or renovated building is at right across from Mapua. There are many buildings hosting dormitories or rental rooms for students in the area. This is similar to buildings near institutions in the University Belt area where now stands many high-rise condominiums also catering to students.
Intersection with Sta. Potencia Street – we caught an amusing sight of these two people who appear to be compacting the asphalt concrete transition between Solana’s lower pavement surface elevation with the Sta. Potencia’s new PCCP.
Approaching the intersection with Victoria Street, one sees many signs of businesses geared towards the academic nature of institutions in the area (e.g., photocopying, bookbinding, computer rentals, etc.). The building on the left is Mapua’s while the ones on the right include dormitories or rental apartments on the upper floors.
Heading to another appointment one morning, our driver avoided Quezon Boulevard and the Quiapo area, which we learned later had serious flooding at the underpass. Our driver said we were actually waved off by a traffic enforcer from heading into Quezon Blvd. to head instead towards Morayta and Recto. And so I decided to take some new photos along our way, which took us to Morayta, Recto, Legarda, P. Casals and Ayala Blvd.
Morayta Street with the Far Eastern University (FEU) at right is part of an area that is called the University Belt because of the academic institutions located in the area including several major universities like FEU, the University of the East (UE), the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), San Sebastian College, San Beda College, Centro Escolar University and College of the Holy Spirit.
On-street parking along Morayta Street – there should be parking fees for such spaces in Manila since vehicles significantly reduce road capacities and cause congestion. These streets are public spaces and should benefit the general public and not just a few people who happen to have cars but no parking space in an area where space is very limited and therefore valuable.
Approach to intersection of Morayta with Recto Avenue.
Recto Avenue eastbound with the elevated tracks of the LRT Line 2.
Approach to the intersection of Recto with Loyola Street. San Sebastian College is just after the signalized intersection. The pedestrian crossing is for people crossing to or from the University of the East, which is on the other side of the road.
The alignment of the LRT Line 2 led to its posts dividing the eastbound lanes of Recto for the section between Loyola Street and Legarda. San Sebastian College is at right with its arcade walkways.
The divided eastbound lanes of Recto merge at the approach to the intersection with Legarda and Mendiola.
That’s Mendiola from across our turning vehicle with San Beda College on the left and a branch of Jollibee obscuring a view of Centro Escolar University at right.
Southbound lanes of Legarda in the general direction towards Arlegui Street. There are many new buildings along the street including the one on the right, which replaced what were already decrepit buildings and houses. Some of these houses probably had historical value but were demolished nonetheless after the property was sold to more enterprising people.
A peak at San Sebastian Church from Legarda and downstream along Bilibid Viejo Street. This image has been captured in many photos and drawings from the time it was completed during the last years of the Spanish period, to the American period until the present.
Legarda ends at its intersection with Nepomuceno and Concepcion Aguila Streets where the most prominent landmark is the National Teachers College. Here, Legarda becomes Nepomuceno and proceeds towards Arlegui and P. Casals.
Pedicabs are among the most common modes of public transport around the country. These are usually found in residential areas including subdivisions or villages where they provide services to people who find it far to walk between their homes and the village gate. However, in many other places, particularly in the rural areas, pedicabs along with tricycles represent the main public transport mode for short trips. And because the main roads connecting barangays or barrios may be national roads, one will find these non-motorized transport traveling along national roads and clearly violating a law prohibiting such transport from using the national highways.
Pedicabs serving rural areas are often tolerated because of a lack of convenient public transport services in barangays. Many communities that happen to be located along national highways are often served by pedicabs (and/or motor tricycles) since jeepneys or buses come along quite sporadically, especially during the off-peak hours. Their drivers and passengers though are often at risk from motor vehicles, especially buses and trucks, that travel at higher speeds and with which crashes are highly likely to result in fatalities.
This guy earns 10 pesos for a special (single passenger only) ride from the national highway to the Leyte Landings monument in Palo. Normal fare is 6 pesos per passenger if you share the ride with others. It’s a decent job and the man earns an honest living pedaling his pedicab to ferry people to and from government offices around the area.
Pedicab queue at the junction of national roads are quite common in the rural areas.
Pedicab traveling along a national highway in Leyte.
In the urban setting, pedicabs operate in many streets and in many cases travel along major roads. Many are considered nuisances in traffic as they are slow moving and do risky maneuvers. In certain cases, like Intramuros and Pasay, they are just too many and may cause congestion simply by their numbers in general traffic. One can also wonder why they are necessary in many places if the walking environment can be improved for pedestrians so that they would not need to take short rides via pedicabs. While we are aware of the social dimensions of pedicab services (i.e., mainly their being the source of income or livelihood for a lot of people), there is the view that many of these same people are misguided in their being allowed to operate so many pedicabs and thereby making many believe it is the “only” livelihood they can depend on. The local governments should be made answerable to these questions regarding pedicab proliferation where they are not suitable.
Pedicabs operating along a section of EDSA in Pasay City near the provincial bus terminals.
Then, of course, there are the pedicabs serving the private or gated residential subdivisions. While tricycles have been the ones to first establish services for these villages, pedicabs have become the choice for many where noise and emissions from tricycles have become irritants and serious issues to residents. The slower-moving pedicabs pose less risks to children playing on the streets or pedestrians walking on village carriageways.
Pedicabs at an exclusive residential subdivision – depending on the fare policies set by local governments, barangays or village associations, pedicabs may charge somewhere between 5 to 10 pesos per passenger depending on the distance traveled, and in some cases the weather conditions (i.e., in many areas, pedicabs charge more when its rainy and especially when streets are flooded).