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Here is a quick share of an article from The New York Times about model railways and trains. I first learned about the company mentioned in the article from a mentor who collected train models and built his own railway model sets. The latter included a portable set he built using an old briefcase that he brought to his classes to demonstrate basic railway features to his students. Some of his scale models are also on display in his home. Whenever we were in the Akihabara District of Tokyo, I enjoyed tagging along him as he searched for models or parts in the many hobby shops in the area.
There has been clamor for our leaders and decision-makers, especially those in the transport and highway agencies, to take public transportation. This is for them to experience how most commuters fare for their daily grinds. And no, having an entourage including bodyguards or reserving your own train car does not count. Dapat pumila o maghintay sa kalye. Makipagsisikan o makipag-habulan sa bus, jeepney o van para makasakay. Many if not most of these officials have their own vehicles or are even driven (may tsuper o driver) to and from work. One even had the gall to transfer his department to where he comfortably resides so he won’t commute but that’s another story.
You see articles and posts about Dutch politicians and even royalty riding the bicycle to work.
The Dutch Prime Minister bikes to work
Then there are politicians regularly taking public transport while in office. Here is an article about the newly inaugurated POTUS, Joe Biden, who took the train for his regular commutes:
Igoe, K.J. (May 4,2020) “Where Did “Amtrak Joe,” Joe Biden’s Nickname, Come From?”, Marie Claire, https://www.marieclaire.com/politics/a32363173/joe-biden-amtrak-joe-meaning/ [Last accessed 2/14/2021]
Do we have someone close to such an example? Commuting by private plane between your home in the Southern Philippines and your office in Manila surely won’t let one have an appreciation of the commuting experiences of typical Filipinos.
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.
My colleagues conducted a survey at several Philippine National Railway (PNR) stations in relation to studies being made for proposed new railway lines including those for rehabilitation. One was already posting photos on her social media account so I asked if I can use some of her photos here on this blog. She generously obliged so here are photos taken just a few weeks ago at the PNR Alabang Station.
PNR commuter train at the Alabang Station – note the conditions of the railway tracks and how open the station is.
People (not necessarily passengers) walk along the railway tracks
Passengers queued to get tickets for their journey
Another photo of the platform and train
Passengers queued for tickets and entering the platform (yes, no turnstiles here) while a surveyor works
Here’s a train that’s about to close its doors after loading passengers
More photos soon!
Going around The Hague was no hassle. There were a lot less people there compared to Amsterdam last Easter Sunday. I felt more relaxed moving around. I also like it that I had transit options in the form of trams and buses to get from one place to somewhere walking seemed to be the less efficient mode to take. Not so many people were on bicycles but that’s probably because it was a Sunday and most bike traffic were for work or school trips? Here are some photos of trams at The Hague (Den Haag).
Saw this tram as we went around some of the attractions in the city.
We rode this one going to the beach.
I rode this tram going back to Den Haag Central Station
Transit network map at Frankenslag stop
Tram schedule posted at the stop
Our friends’ neighbourhood was a really nice one and I liked it that it is accessible to both tram and bus. The walks are short but you can easily get some exercise by getting off at an earlier stop or perhaps walking to a further one. The clear walking paths are definitely a plus and the environment is one conducive for such activities as well as for saying ‘hello’ to other people.
A major media network sponsored an experiment pitting a bicycle, bus and rail in a race from Trinoma to De La Salle University along Taft Avenue. The bicycle won but under conditions that are favorable to the cyclist even considering Metro Manila’s road conditions that are not bike-friendly (and not pedestrian friendly, too, in many areas).
Would the bicycle have won against a motorcycle where both riders were of similar skills and experiences? Probably not considering the speed of a motorised vehicle even given congested roads.
Would a lot of people consider cycling between, say, Trinoma and DLSU? Most likely not, even if you provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities like bike racks, showers, etc., short of building exclusive bikeways (e.g., elevated).
I have nothing against bicycles and cycling. I have a bicycle myself and I have cycled between my home and the universities when I was studying and a visiting scientist in Japan. However, I have to caution people into thinking and oversimplifying that one mode is better than all others. If we pursue this line of thinking, then perhaps we should include walking in the discussion. I would like to think that there will also be a lot of people who would state that walking (and even running) is better than other modes including cycling. When comparing these two non-motorized modes, however, the advantages of one over the other become obvious – cycling is faster and requires less energy per person traveling using the mode. Such would extend to the motorized modes and comparisons should clearly show the suitability of certain modes of transport over others once distance and capacity are factored into the equation. Thus, we have rail systems as more appropriate over longer distances and are able to carry much more passengers per hour compared to, say, jeepneys. These are even more efficient in terms of energy on a per passenger basis. Further, we have to appreciate that we have to establish a clear hierarchy of transport systems and provide the necessary infrastructure to enable people to have all the options for traveling and especially for commuting.
A highlight of my ‘do-it-yourself’ tour of San Diego, CA was the Sta. Fe Train Depot or Railway Station. The depot was celebrating is centennial and for me represented part of America’s railway heritage being part of a railway line stretching along the US’ Pacific coastline. Following are photos in and about the Sta. Fe depot.
The historic Sta. Fe Train Depot building as seen from the San Diego MTS trolley station.
Front of the train deport showing a fountain and the main doors to the station building.
Entrance to the building, which contains the ticket office and waiting room for passengers and well-wishers.
One is greeted by this splendid view of the building’s interior evoking a time when trains ruled in land transportation. An information booth is seen at the right while the food kiosk is at the left. The ticket windows are further at the center.
The kiosk inside the station building provides sustenance to passengers, well-wishers and passers-by. Note, too, the mosaic designs on the columns of the building.
A closer look at the station’s ceiling and chandeliers shown arches emanating from the columns to support the roof. Such features are of earthquake resistant structures in this earthquake-prone region and particularly in the State of California.
Pedicab, trolley and the Sta. Fe Train Depot
I took some refreshments at the kiosk in the station. The hotdog sandwich was good and the coffee was strong. I took the trolley from the station to explore San Diego along its commuter train lines. More on San Diego’s trains and stations in future posts.
There are several options for passengers to travel between Narita Airport and their destinations in the Kanto area. There are many train services connecting the airport to Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba or other destinations. These include the Narita Express (N’EX), the Airport Narita trains of the JR Yokosuka-Sobu Line, and the Keisei Skyliner. Another option is to take limousine buses from the airport, which includes the Airport Limousine bus from Narita. Information on fares and schedules are available from the internet links I provided.
Bus stops are located just outside Narita Terminal 1
The information boards on Airport Limousine stops provide information for the next bus for a particular destination in both Japanese and English.
Smoking areas are located outside the airport and are enclosed. There is air-conditioning for ventilation.
A Limousine Bus bound for the Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT) is shown loading passengers. I used to take this bus as an alternate for going to Yokohama. My other option was the Airport Narita trains of the JR Yokosuka-Sobu Line.
Back of a bus bound for Shibuya and Futako Tamagawa in western Tokyo.
Airport Limousine Bus ticket from Narita to Akasaka
When I was still residing in Yokohama, I usually took the train to Narita and the bus when returning from the airport and via YCAT. This was because I usually travelled lighter when going to Manila than when I was returning since I brought back some food items for times when I was feeling homesick and longed for something familiar to eat. Cost-wise, the airport limousine bus service cost a bit more but was more convenient for my return trips. Later, in my stays at Saitama, the obvious choice was the bus to and from Narita through Omiya Station as traveling by rail was more complicated due to the transfers. The additional cost is easily justified by the convenience and comfort provided by the bus service.