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Research topics in the time of Covid-19, Part 1

It’s that time of year again when I usually write about research topics. I am tempted to share the updated research agenda our group prepared for our students at UP but perhaps a quick list would do for now. I guess the most relevant topics are those related to the Covid-19 pandemic including those about transport during the lockdown and post-ECQ. Here are some initial ideas about such relevant topics to take on:

  • Public transport supply and demand, operations – there are many topics that can be developed under this including those relating supply and demand. For example, it would be interesting to have a research assessing the supply of public transport modes with respect to the demand from the lockdown (ECQ to MECQ) to its easing (GCQ to MGCQ). Included here would be topics tackling the attempts at rationalizing transport routes (e.g., the introduction of bus services where there was none before, the continuing restriction for conventional/traditional jeepneys, etc.). For those into transport economics and finance and even policy, perhaps the service contracting scheme can be studied further and its different aspects meticulously and objectively examined. What are its limitations? What are the critical assumptions that need to be realized for it to be most effective and not abused or mismanaged?
  • Traffic engineering and management – there were suddenly many issues pertaining to this during the lockdowns. Among these were traffic management in the vicinity of checkpoints where queuing theory among other principles could have been applied in order to reduce congestion.
  • Active transportation – the DPWH already came out with guidelines for bike lanes along national roads. These will surely be used as reference by local government units (LGU) as they are obliged by a DILG memo to develop facilities for active transportation. Active transport here refers mainly to walking and cycling but in other cases have come to include the use of personal mobility devices (PMD). Much research is to be done for designs, users’ preferences, behavior in traffic, safety and other topics such as those relating active transport with public transport (e.g., as a last mile/kilometer mode for most people).
  • Level of service (LOS) – I had a nice, brief exchange about LOS and the notion that it is outdated. I believe it is not and many who parrot the notion lacks a deeper understanding not just of LOS but the principles, assumptions and data that goes into transportation and traffic analysis. Perhaps a multi-modal LOS criteria can be developed for the Philippines? If so, what parameters or measures can be used to describe our own LOS? What modes and facilities will be evaluated according to this? And how can solutions be developed with respect to such.

Of course, there are just so many of the traditional topics to take on. There will always be a backlog regarding these topics. In the sequel to this article, I will try to identify other topics for transportation research that can be considered as well as recall “old” topics that are still necessary regardless of the pandemic.

On making roads safer for students

Here is a nice article from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine about how transportation research makes roads safer for students as they go back to school:

Transportation research makes the road safer for students to get back to school

There is a wealth of information there, and one should browse and perhaps download resources shared that can be useful references not just for those in North America but elsewhere towards making journeys between homes and schools.

Scene near a public school in Zamboanga City [photo taken in June 2019]

We, too, have several initiatives towards making the journeys of children safer between their homes and schools. It is something that all of us find essential and worthwhile. Children, after all, represent our future and making their journeys safer gives them better chances to succeed in life. It also shows them examples that they can replicate for their own future children. I will write more about these as we obtain the data and perform our assessment.

EASTS 2019 Conference

The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS 2019) is currently underway. This conference is hosted by the domestic society of Sri Lanka from September 9-11, 2019. The conference was almost canceled or relocated due to the safety and security concerns following the bombings in Colombo last April. After assurances by the organisers plus the full support from government, the conference was decided to push through in Colombo.

Backdrop of the opening program

Delegates from the Philippines pose with EASTS President Prof. Tetsuo Yai and other friends from Japan

More information on the conference and others about the domestic society may be found on the EASTS homepage, which also has a link to the organizers’ website.

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!

The AGT test site at UP Diliman is no more

This is actually a late post considering what has transpired last year that led to the demolition of the AGT test facilities at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. For one, UP (or at least Diliman) didn’t want it. That was to be expected as Diliman’s Executive Council comprised of the constituent university’s deans and executive staff (Chancellor and Vice Chancellors) already stated that they don’t want an AGT in the campus many years ago and during the last administration when the main proponent, then DOST Secretary Montejo, was still very much in-charge of that department. Here are photos taken by a colleague last year showing the demolition work on the elevated guideway and stations. These were taken as they traveled along C.P. Garcia Avenue towards the University Avenue.

The demo was completed late last year and the AGT vehicle has been transferred to the MIRDC compound in Bicutan. The two prototypes are now there and there is an uncertainty about their futures. One colleague recalled “if only they had listened and had the AGT tested the proper way”. He was referring to the proposal to have an independent evaluation of the vehicle in order to ensure that its technical specifications and capabilities were up to international standards. The AGT proponents didn’t agree and proceeded according to what they wanted despite what we heard was a similar recommendation from then DOTC officials to have the vehicle certified as safe for public use.

I am happy to know that at least one project from that ambitious program during the last administration will finally be operational. A different approach seems to have been undertaken for the hybrid train that was produced for the PNR. Recent news stated that the train has undergone a series of tests and needs to hurdle a few more before going into operation along the PNR’s commuter line. Hopefully, it succeeds and encourage production of more like it and lead to an evolution of Philippine-made trains.

Professorial Chair Colloquium of UP’s Institute of Civil Engineering

We start the month of November with an announcement. This is for the Professorial Chair Colloquium of the Institute of Civil Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman, which will be held on November 16, 2018 (Friday). The sessions are open to the public and surely there will be interesting topics not just regarding transportation but on the other fields as well. Following are information on the lecture topics:

25th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines

The Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) will be holding its 25th Annual Conference in Cagayan De Oro City next week. Here is the program and you can get more details about the conference and the society from its homepage and Facebook page.

A compilation of studies on walkability in the Philippines

My students have been engaged in studies on walkability (and related topics) the past few years. These have been a mix of published and unpublished work that I have compiled at list below:

Unpublished works:

  • Capalar, M.A.M. and Garma, F.A.A. (2018) Assessment of Walkability Along Taft Avenue, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2017) Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
  • Cortez, E.H.D. and Razon, J.V.DV. (2017) Assessment of Walkability Along Katipunan Avenue, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
  • Marcelo, K.R.S. and Salvador, J.P.B. (2015) Assessment of Pedestrian Facilities Along Marcos Highway, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Published works:

• Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2018) “Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal,”  Philippines Transportation Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 60-80.

• Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2017) “Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal,” Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, Quezon City, July 21, 2017.

• Regidor, J.R.F., Marcelo, K.R.S. and Salvador, J.P.B. (2016) “Assessment of Pedestrian Facilities Along Marcos Highway,” Proceedings of the DPWH Research Symposium 2016, Quezon City, September 2016.

 

Here’s a paper based on a comprehensive study our centre conducted for the City of Olongapo in the Province of Zambales:

• Palmiano, H.S.O., Javier, S.F.D. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2015) “An Assessment of Walkability in a Medium-Sized Philippine City,” Proceedings of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 10, December 2015.

We hope to continue such studies with future advisees who perhaps can tackle other corridors or even areas. Among those on my Wishlist would be Espana Avenue, Ortigas Avenue, Intramuros, Recto Avenue, and even EDSA or Circumferential Road 5.

8th Regional Symposium on Infrastructure Development (RSID)

I would like to promote a symposium that our Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) at the University of the Philippines Diliman will be hosting this year.

The Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines Diliman together with Kasetsart University (Thailand) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan) is pleased to invite you to participate in the:

8th Regional Symposium on Infrastructure Development
in Civil Engineering (RSID8)

Theme: Resilient Infrastructure Through Engineering Innovation

Date & Venue: October 25-26, 2018 Institute of Civil Engineering,
University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City Philippines

Abstract Submission:
Those who wish to present in this symposium are invited to submit and abstract of about 500 words under the following themes:
Sustainable Design, Materials and Construction
Sustainable Transport
Water Security and Disaster Mitigation
Resilient Strudtures
Geomechanics and Geoenvironment
Resource Efficiency and Waste Management
Deadline for Abstract Submission: April 16, 2018
Template: tinyurl.com/RSID8abstract

Please see attached poster of call for papers for more details.
Kindly disseminate to your colleagues who may be interested.

For more information of the conference please contact:

Christian R. Orozco
RSID8 Secretariat
Institute of Civil Engineering
University of the Philippines Diliman
Email: rsid2018@up.edu.ph
Website: conference.upd.edu.ph/index.php/RSID

On the other uses of ridesharing/ ridehailing services

We start 2018 with another article that I found this interesting. The article is on the other uses of ridesharing, particularly for medical emergencies:

Seipel, T. (2017) “Uber reduces ambulance usage across the country, study says”. mercurynews.com. https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/13/uber-reduces-ambulance-useage-in-major-u-s-cities-study-says/ (Last accessed: 12/22/2017).

This article was particularly interesting to me because we are currently doing research on ridesharing. This should be a good topic for students who are looking for something current and relevant, and should fit well in the bigger scheme of things in as far as our research agenda is concerned. There is a link to the study report in the article for those wanting to get the details on the outcomes.