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On the Tacloban airport terminal expansion

Tacloban’s Daniel Romualdez Airport terminal’s expansion has been completed and it now has ample space to accommodate passengers. I took the following photos a couple of weeks ago.

There is more space for the two inspection machines but only one was functioning when we were there. Nevertheless, the terminal now has a more spacious check-in lobby.

The check-in frontage remains the same with the same number of counters for each of the carriers. However, there is more space now for queueing so it is not as crowded as before. Shown are the counters for Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Here is the counter for Cebu Pacific (CebPac); again showing the same counter frontage but with more space for queueing.

There is a perceivable wide area now available in the terminal. That’s the TIEZA booth as well as others for quarantine.

Air Asia Philippines’ check-in counters

The pre-departure lounge is basically “divided” among PAL, CebPac and Air Asia. This is the scene of what you would have seen prior to the completion of the expansion.

Now, there is more space so its not as crowded.

There is a play area for kids as well as a room for nursing mothers (i.e., for breastfeeding or changing diapers). A welcome sight are the refurbished toilets.

The old food stands are gone with the exception of Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s a Goldilocks stand but not one with local goods or delicacies like ‘moron’ for souvenirs/pasalubong.

Another look at the passenger lounge area near the gates.

Here is the expansion area with additional seats and spaces for people with (a lot of) carry-on baggage.

Proposed downtown traffic scheme for Tacloban City

The team from the National Center for Transportation Studies of the University of the Philippines presented their recommendations for the traffic scheme in downtown Tacloban City last May 4, 2018 in the city’s Traffic Summit cum City Development Council (CDC) meeting. I am sharing the image showing the proposed traffic circulation and other features for the proposed downtown scheme below:

The scheme calls for a reduction in on-street parking; restricting such to one side of the street only and where applicable. That is, on-street parking is not allowed where there is already off-street parking along establishments, where there are driveways, and within one or two vehicle length from intersection corners. There will also be designated loading/unloading areas for public transport so parking is also prohibited there.

A couple of important features in the scheme are the enhancement of pedestrian facilities, particularly sidewalks, and the introduction of bicycle lanes. These are more clearly shown in the cross-section examples included in the map. Note that for other streets where there are no designated bike lanes indicated, it is assumed that lanes will be shared with motor vehicles. This is an application of the concept of shared right of way or “sharrow” as it is also termed. The scheme is contextualised along the lines of “people-oriented” transport rather than “car-oriented”, and hopefully would lead to a more walkable downtown area and encourage more people to use bicycles. This promotion of active transport should also lead to a healthier city. I will post about the transport plans prepared for the city in future articles here.

Tacloban City’s New Transport Terminal

Tacloban City has what is called a new transport terminal located to the northwest of downtown and across from the new Robinsons mall in the area. Here are a few photos of the terminal taken earlier this year.

Vendors selling mostly food items including local delicacies

The City Treasurer’s Office has a makeshift post at the terminal to collect fees from transport operators including buses and vans using the terminal.

The terminal hosts an Extension Office of the City Treasurer and also has a K-9 unit to help keep the terminal safe and secure. The dogs work regularly to sniff out illegal substances that may be carried by people using the terminal.

Passengers wait for their buses or vans at the terminal.

The waiting area is not air-conditioned but is relatively cool and is clean.

Another view of the passengers’ waiting lounge

Passengers may purchase bus tickets at the terminal prior to boarding a bus.

The same goes with vans including those called mega taxis

View of the front of the terminal

A view of the terminal from the transport parking lot

A view of the terminal from mall across from it. Note the sign at the left side of the photo? The office of the city’s traffic management and enforcement unit (TOMECO) is located at the second floor of the terminal.

Tacloban hopes to continue development of the terminal area that will eventually be expanded to have an even larger lounge for passengers, a hotel and more commercial spaces aside from berths for public transportation.

Tacloban City waterfront

While going around the city’s downtown area last week to inspect the work of our surveyors, we decided to take a break at a fast-food restaurant near the port. This branch of the fast-food chain offered nice views of the city’s waterfront and I took a few photos that I share below:

A vendor’s cart located at the road behind the fast-food restaurant – the road is used by public utility vehicles as an informal terminal and you will seldom see vehicles passing through it.

A large outrigger sits at the port. These vesselsĀ 

Freighters and cranes at Tacloban’s port

A ship arriving at Tacloban

Tacloban downtown in the early mornings

Mobilizing surveyors for traffic data collection in Tacloban City’s downtown, I took the opportunity to take some photos before 6:00AM. This was before most people were at work or school on the first good weather day in the city after a week of heavy rains that brought floods and landslides to parts of the city. Schools at all levels had been suspended earlier this week with government offices also closed last Monday.

Zamora Street towards southeast and M.H. Del Pilar Street

Zamora Street towards northwest and Salazar Street

Justice Romualdez Street to southwest and M.H. Del Pilar Street

A lone cyclist along Justice Romualdez Street

There’s something about coming out to walk in the early morning in cities like Tacloban. You catch a city at a time before all the action happens, when everything seems so peaceful and calm when you see more people walking and cycling than motor vehicles dominating road space. That serenity should serve as an inspiration for what should be the vision for a city in order for it to retain its soul rather than lose it in what can be nightmarish traffic and transport conditions. Tacloban’s downtown holds so much promise for revitalisation but among the issues that need to be addressed is traffic-related. The city needs to recover spaces for pedestrians and cyclists while ensuring efficient traffic circulation for motor vehicles, particularly public transport. There seems to be spaces available for road diets and the creation of safe paths for people, and such design challenges need to be taken on in order to transform the downtown area into an example of sustainable transport.

Another look at the San Juanico Bridge

We have an ongoing project with the City of Tacloban and recently we went around the northern part of the city where many relocation sites were established after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). After doing our fieldwork, we decided to cross the San Juanico Bridge into Samar island where we were told there’s a nice restaurant sitting atop a hill in the town of Sta. Rita.

Despite the rains, we managed to get some photos of the breathtaking views. Among these were this photo of the bridge as seen from Samar. Leyte and Tacloban are behind the bridge.

It is said that the part of the bridge on the Samar side has that distinctive ‘S’ shape while the Leyte side is a simple ‘L’ form. Trucks are weighed before they get on the bridge and the DPWH maintains a weigh station for this purpose before the Samar end. I didnt notice any from the Leyte side. Perhaps this is because most loaded trucks come via Samar rather that from Leyte?

Traffic along the San Juanico is usually light. This is despite the route being part of the eastern spine or nautical highway that is also part of the Asian Highway network. This leads me to suspect that similar (but longer and more expensive) bridges proposed for connecting other islands are unnecessary and cannot be justified when compared with other more urgent infrastructure projects including those that wil address urban congestion and promote improved mobility. The latter are more urgent and meaningful than massive structures that fewer people will use and benefit from.

Tacloban’s one-way traffic scheme

I was in Tacloban City last month and got to meet former participants to our training program who are working for their Traffic Operation Management Enforcement and Control Office (TOMECO). Among the topics of discussion was the traffic scheme for the central business district (CBD). Last year, the city had implemented a one-way traffic circulation scheme for the CBD as shown in the following map in the traffic advisory released by the city:

The city had to ease up on the one-way scheme, retaining it for the northwest-southeast directions and reverting to 2-way flow for the northeast-southwest directions. This decision was apparently due to the feedback the city got from various stakeholders about travel times and distances becoming longer due to the one-way scheme. This needs to be verified by collecting data pertaining to typical routes taken by vehicles, private and public utility, in order to get from an origin to a destination (e.g., from home to school). This can be simulated or estimated using field data (travel time surveys). We intend to use both as we make an assessment of the scheme and formulate recommendations for the city.

Another look at the Tacloban Airport

The Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City is the busiest in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas). Tacloban being the regional center in terms of commerce/business, attracts significant air traffic and should continue to do so as it steadily recovers from the devastation brought about by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Following are photos of the airport from our recent trip to Leyte, where we had meetings in Tacloban and Ormoc.

IMG_2485Passengers arrive at the Tacloban Airport

IMG_2486Philippine Airlines turboprop aircraft arriving at the airport

IMG_2487Cebu Pacific passengers disembarking from the plane

IMG_2489Passengers waiting for the checked-in luggage at the carouselĀ 

IMG_2490Passengers file out of the arrival area unto the terminal’s driveway and parking lot

IMG_2491Visitors may inquire about the Tacloban at the city’s information desk located at the arrival area.

IMG_2492 Sign of a rent-a-car service at the airport showing rental options and available vehicle models.

IMG_2653Crowded check-in area at the Tacloban airport passenger terminal

IMG_2654There were long queues at the check-in counters as well as the payment booths for the terminal fee.

IMG_2655We entered a very crowded departure area as flights were delayed and people accumulated at the terminal. These are Air Asia passengers.

IMG_2656These are Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific passengers. Notice the temporary wall behind which is a section of the departure area that’s being renovated.

IMG_2657Shops at the departure area sell souvenirs and food items including local delicacies like moron and binagol.

The airport terminal is already very congested and it doesn’t help that flights are frequently delayed for various reasons. In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), there have been proposals to move the airport to another location. However, it now seems that there is no better location for this within the city and elsewhere in the province. There are opportunities and potential though to improve the current airport and perhaps make it more resilient against typhoons of the scale of Yolanda.

The proposed new passenger terminal building is already much delayed and the runway can be extended. The latter is now possible with the areas for the extension already cleared of informal settlers mainly due to these areas being ravaged by Yolanda and authorities not permitting people to rebuild their houses there.

Revisiting Tacloban Airport

The last time I was in Tacloban was in the summer before Typhoon Yolanda (International: Haiyan) laid waste to the city and many others along its path. Following are photos I took upon our arrival and departure from the city.

IMG10644-20150420-1350The Daniel Romualdez Airport as seen from our taxiing aircraft. The airport was almost completely destroyed by Yolanda in 2013 and was the scene of so much grief and desperation afterwards as people made their exodus of the devastated city and surrounding areas.

IMG10645-20150420-1352Arriving passengers deplane and walk on the tarmac towards the baggage claim area

IMG10647-20150420-1352A photo of our plane and disembarking passengers – Tacloban airport was being served by turboprops as jet services were suspended because of the repairs being undertaken for th runway.

IMG10648-20150420-1353Luggage carousel at the arrival area

IMG10649-20150420-1353Passengers await their luggage

IMG10650-20150420-1356People outside included those picking up passengers and those offering transport services not just for Tacloban and Leyte but also for destinations in nearby Samar island. The two islands, of course, are connected by the San Juanico Bridge, the country’s longest.

IMG10651-20150420-1356Passengers walk towards the well-wishers’ area and the parking lot

IMG10652-20150420-1357Passengers claiming their luggage

IMG10654-20150420-1403Airport control tower

IMG10750-20150421-1318Philippine Airlines check-in counters

IMG10751-20150421-1318Cebu Pacific check-in counters

IMG10753-20150421-1329Concessionaire and passengers at the pre-departure area

IMG10754-20150421-1330There were many new seats at the pre-departure area and the space can handle about 3 planeloads of passengers without being too congested.

IMG10755-20150421-1330Another look at the relatively spacious pre-departure area

IMG10756-20150421-1334The pre-departure are as seen from the other end of the lounge

Tacloban is the regional capital of Eastern Visayas and deserves a modern airport to serve the area. Plans have been made for a new passenger terminal and the project was reportedly to be bid out before Yolanda destroyed the airport. The old terminal had to be rebuilt and the new terminal project seems to be behind schedule in terms of implementation. Hopefully, the reason for delay is that they had to re-design the terminal that was to be located in the area where Pope Francis held a Mass early this year when he visited Tacloban. The re-design is critical given the possibility of future super typhoons ravaging the area and the position of the airport along the path of most typhoons passing through the Philippines.