(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 19, 2014 - 12:00am
The television networks and their rating agencies were the first to use the term Mega Manila. They see Mega Manila as the area radiating from Metro Manila with a population projected by the 2010 census at about 25,000,000 people in an area roughly the size of Los Angeles County and with an average density of over 2000 people per square kilometer.
Mega Manila is a world class metropolis, at least in size. It includes Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. As a comparison, only the cities of Tokyo, Jakarta, Mexico City and Shanghai have reached a population size of 25 million people.
Mega Manila is chaotic and has become more so as traffic flow turned from bad to worse with simultaneous construction of long awaited road infrastructure starting this week. One wonders when the long suffering residents will reach the breaking point of their patience with this state of affairs.
When a group of PhilStar columnists had lunch with Vice President Jojo Binay last week, I asked the former mayor and MMDA chairman what ought to be done. I asked the VP if having an elected Metro Manila governor will help.
It probably would, the VP replied, but quickly added that the politics of the region will not allow it. Indeed, the mayors of the 16 cities and one town in Metro Manila will not favor any diminution of their powers in their fiefdoms.
But VP Binay, who said he took courses on urban planning, admitted that a unified metro government will likely do better in planning, coordinating and delivering services. After all, he said, the basic problems in all 16 cities and one town in the region are the same.
Unfortunately, he pointed out that MMDA is toothless. He probably got more respect from the other mayors when he was MMDA chairman because they were his colleagues. But giving up powers, even to manage traffic and impose fines, is hard to do for the metro kingpins.
So, I asked the VP, where do we go from here? What is the solution to the metrowide chaos that drastically cuts into the quality of our lives and even endangers our health?
The VP said that we probably have to move most of the national government offices out of the metro area. There are just too many people already, he said. But he didn’t say where the national capital should be relocated to.
I wonder if moving the nation’s capital outside of Manila is a good idea… or a viable one. But it seems to be an attractive option specially for those of us who have seen Malaysia’s Putrajaya. Halfway between the airport and Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya is a nicely planned government city where key government agencies have their offices. But KL is busier and more crowded than ever.
Former President Arroyo thought of moving the seat of government to Clark where there is abundant government owned land. But it takes money and a lot of political will to uproot everything now in place in Metro Manila and move 90 kilometers away. It doesn’t seem practical.
Then again too, we see Metro Manila turning into Mega Manila and one wonders how far away could we move the capital before that area is also engulfed by the fast expanding urban sprawl? For practical purposes, more than half of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan are de facto part of the national capital region even if the laws do not recognize that.
What we need is an adequate public transport system that will allow people to live in the fringes and still have an affordable way of getting into the city centers to earn a living. Sadly, that is what we lack. The inadequacy of public transport likely caused residents to buy cars and this is why our streets and highways are clogged most hours of the working day. We failed to learn from the lesson of Los Angeles, which belatedly realized the value of public transport.
The VP said our poor cannot be faulted for wanting to live in the city, particularly one like Makati where social benefits are available from cradle to grave. VP Binay pointed out to our group that he knows of many instances where children of poor residents endured bad living conditions while taking advantage of Makati’s free education up to college. Staying in their impoverished home provinces won’t give them that opportunity, he observed.
I asked the Vice President if the social safety net in Makati can be done in the national level as promised in his campaign advertising: Ganito kami sa Makati, Sana sa Buong Pilipinas. He balanced his reply.
The VP said his advertising consultant, Greg Garcia, may have been over enthusiastic with that promise. It is not easy to do that in the national level. But he quickly added that the promise is doable if there is a political will to do it. There should be enough money for that if government spends wisely, he said.
The VP seems convinced that the metro area, and eventually, the Mega Manila area, ought to be managed as one political entity. But I am not sure a Binay administration will use his political brownie points to see such a system happen.
Hopefully, he musters the political guts to convince his former fellow metro mayors to see the light. A metrowide government unit with an elected governor or chairman will be able to do planning on the basis of the entire metro area instead of a smaller fiefdom.
Things like traffic management, garbage collection, sanitation and health services can be approached on a metro basis. The metro government can take over from the inept DOTC the responsibility of providing essential transport infrastructure.
But for now we can only dream of better things even as we endure the continuing reality of hell in our streets. In the meantime, the metro area will continue to grow beyond the limits of what is now called Mega Manila. The problems can only get worse until we get better leaders ready to do what ought to be done.
Is DOTC anti-Filipino?
The question came up during the bidding for the computer system to be used by all DOTC agencies, specially the LTO. On the first page of the bid documents, it is written that the project calls for the “implementation of a server based package solutions (sic) based on an existing system currently in use outside of the Philippines”.
During the pre-bid conference held last Jan 21, a bidder asked what this requirement meant. DOTC Usec. Jun Bucayan replied, “We have already set the rules. You have to get a foreign system that is already in use. We want something that has been tried and tested abroad.”
Why is the DOTC requiring a foreign-based software that would require a lot of customization to make it applicable to local needs? An existing foreign-based system would be programmed to meet the needs of that country, whose requirements may be totally different from ours.
Let me recall the example of the billing system introduced by Meralco’s former Spanish partners some years ago. It was tailor made for Spanish conditions, not ours. In Spain, they paid their bill through the banks. Here, we have collection agents like banks and customer service centers of malls like SM. Not too many of us have bank accounts.
That is why unlike PLDT, SMART, SkyCable and Manila Water, we have to pay our Meralco bills exactly as billed to the last centavo. We cannot over pay to cover the next month while we are on a trip. The Spanish system is not flexible and did not account for our paying behavior.
Given the amount of time DOTC already wasted trying to bid out this system, they should not discriminate against Filipino bidders who already know what we need and have that system ready to run. Besides we have to encourage our own computer professionals by giving them big projects. Buy Filipino, and government must set the example.
When asked to justify this anti-Filipino stance, DOTC’s Bucayan’s reply: “There were market studies done as to what has been done in other countries. We are confident that the solutions are out there. Anyway, there is a provision for cancellation.”
In other words, the DOTC is willing to waste P3.44 billion of Filipino taxpayers’ money on a system that may not work because “anyway, there is a provision for cancellation.”
Anti-Filipino. Amateurs. Or they are tailoring the bidding requirements for someone they already have in mind.
Oo nga naman
From Rosan Cruz.
Hindi lahat ng guapo may GF. Ang iba sa kanila, may BF.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 19, 2014 - 12:00am
Readers may have noticed how easy it has been for everyone to come up with solutions, ideas and suggestions on what to do and what not to do concerning the expected “Carmagedon” in the form of traffic resulting from the multi-project start up of the republic of P-Noy.
Some solutions die instant death based on stupidity, impracticality or sheer unpopularity. Some ideas die from mental or verbal miscarriage by the proponent or members of media, and some suggestions actually survive the 6:30 evening news and are seriously considered by policy makers and the public.
Now might be a good time to call in DOST Secretary Mario Montejo to once again explain how and why their idea of a Road Train System will work on EDSA, how it will provide transportation for several thousand commuters on EDSA daily, how the Road Train will free up one lane on EDSA, create an investment opportunity for a quick PPP, reduce fuel consumption as well as air pollution, AND REDUCE TRAFFIC!
I first heard about the “Road Train Project” during the Innovation Conference or ICON hosted by Hyundai Auto Resources Inc. (HARI) back in 2013. To be honest I was initially skeptical because the design is based on a “tractor head” or bus pulling several wagons or train carriage on regular bus or truck tires. Instead of the usual train tracks that the MRT or LRT run on, the Road train will run on EDSA’s road surface probably secured by concrete barriers or gutters like in a bowling lane. Each set of trains will have a head unit pulling 5 interconnected coaches able to take 120 people or 600 per set at full capacity. As presented, the units will run on a diesel-electric hybrid system, which will free it from being totally dependent on electricity and high maintenance cost. The production and maintenance cost would be lower than the usual MRT/LRT that requires elevated platforms, stations and access.
Although it will take at least a year to roll out one set if it were to be fully funded by generous donors and built by a dedicated team of constructors, I would speculate that the Road Train would be our modern day version of Filipino Innovation blending engineering and technology with on the ground realities and creating a solution as iconic as the “jeepney.” If Secretary Montejo gets a green light, I’m publicly volunteering myself as well as a couple of “car crazy” people who like to create and build these sort of things.
* * *
Standing in the sidelines, it’s interesting how one cabinet member in an effort to do his job inadvertently makes another look utterly useless. When MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino floated the idea of the MMDA operating the shelved Pasig River ferry he probably thought nothing of it except as a good and practical idea. As they say desperate times require desperate measures. To this I say “hear, hear” and “Well done” for actually doing something about a potential problem while dealing with another long pending problem!
But how does this make the DOTC look? Stupid of course! How else would they look considering it’s been three years that the Pasig River ferry has not been operating! First I heard about it was because the new administration wanted to rebid the project. Then I heard that the last operator was losing money. Then we never heard about it again! Imagine that for at least 6 if not 9 years under the so-called corrupt Arroyo administration, we had a fully functioning Pasig River Ferry that my wife and I used to take on occasions from Guadalupe or Mandaluyong all the way down to Quiapo. When the new administration came in, 2 living but inactive DOTC Secretaries could not get the system floating up and down the river!
But Lo and behold! Chairman Tolentino says the MMDA will operate the ferry boats or if necessary they could pull them up and down the river with tugboats. I really look forward to the day when the MMDA commandeer the ferryboats and do what the DOTC totally failed to do. Maybe then P-Noy will finally realize he has the wrong people in the DOTC.
* * *
Among the other ideas coming out of the MMDA, one is to take away the 9-3 window where vehicles with banned number plates are allowed to drive. I’m sure this will help some and it may be worth a try but the MMDA and Chairman Tolentino might want to consider dealing with the problems and testing the solutions they have talked about in the past but failed to do. For instance how about really regulating buses and keeping them in place. Last Monday radio reporters were surprised that the morning traffic on EDSA was bad northbound and not towards Makati. As they discovered, the buses were cutting ahead of the cue and blocking other lanes of EDSA at the Ortigas intersection.
It’s not a private car versus public utility debate we need; it’s dealing with what is obvious. Buses block lanes, many buses between 9 to 3 are only half full, so why is Chairman Tolentino immediately focusing on private cars? Why is his first target always private cars and his usual comment is that there is an over abundance of cars? What about truck mounted billboards, “Driving School cars and student drivers learning how to drive on EDSA, all of which slow traffic considerably. Then there are the constant obstacles poised by MMDA maintenance personnel who are washing walls, watering plants or painting gutters, all done during the day when traffic is at peak!
Do something about synchronizing traffic lights to get a wave of green lights and cars moving. What about removing debris and illegally parked cars on Araneta Avenue, illegal jeepney terminals on the East and West service roads? Yes the Chairman needs real volume reduction, but the public also wants action, integrity and fairness in the efforts of the MMDA. Yes Mr. Chairman we are willing to support you but first deal with all the past “fails” that the MMDA never acted on resolutely.
Why should law-abiding taxpayers always be first on your hit list? Please deal with the violators first. Stop picking on us and do your job: enforce the law.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 20, 2014 - 12:00am
CONGESTION: The road network of the metropolis can be likened to the plumbing of a building and the circulatory system of the body.
At some point and for various reasons, the flow of vehicles, of water and of blood could be impeded, causing traffic or flow problems of varying degrees and consequences.
Sometimes the obstruction could be fatal. Chronic traffic congestion could lead to the slow death of a city in the same way that clogged plumbing could stop water service altogether or atherosclerosis could cause a stroke or a heart attack.
To some extent, the analogous situations can give traffic managers, plumbers and heart doctors a hint of what emergency and long-term measures can ease or solve flow problems.
* * *
FOUR E’s: The arteries, veins and capillaries of the body run to something like 100,000 kilometers of blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to our organs and tissues.
Similarly, the 3,450-km metropolitan road system carries workers and goods vital to the life and commerce of the nation’s capital and areas beyond. This is one of the reasons why the daytime truck ban in Manila, for instance, needs to be reviewed and revised.
A ban is a copout. It gives the impression that the traffic manager has given up on other possible remedies.
Faulty road design, improper use of space and lack of discipline contribute to the clogging of streets, reducing the usable space left for normal traffic. Actually, road obstructions can be cleared using the four E’s of Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Electronic aids.
* * *
BYPASS PRESCRIBED: Metro Manila traffic managers have resorted to what heart specialists might call a P26-billion bypass — the Skyway-3 project to link the South Luzon Expressway to the North Luzon Expressway with a 14.8-km elevated road flying over the metropolis.
It offers a long-term relief by cutting travel time from two hours to just 20 minutes from Buend├*a to Balintawak. But in the meantime everybody must bear with the inconvenience and cooperate, not add to the expected congestion in the construction area.
With work on it already begun by Citra Central Expressway Corp., two southbound lanes on Osme├▒a Highway connecting to the SLEx were closed Monday night for the erection of columns for the elevated road.
* * *
DAYTIME BAN: From nowhere, City Hall banned effective Feb. 24 all eight-wheel trucks and vehicles with gross weight above 4,500 kilograms from Manila roads from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. That is 16 hours, or seven hours longer than the previous ban.
Trucks may operate only from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and only on designated routes. On Sundays and holidays, they can take these routes any time. If it is any consolation, trucks carrying perishable goods and oil products — as well as vehicles used for government projects — are exempted.
Vehicles delivering construction materials outside the truck routes must get permission from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau. Violators pay a P5,000 fine or their vehicles will be impounded.
* * *
COORDINATION: Too many specialists separately sticking their fingers into the congested heart of the patient might just kill him.
There must be consultation and coordination before officials decide to tinker with traffic flow in the national capital teeming with 15 million residents and 20 percent of its households owning some kind of motor or motorized vehicle.
A local government insisting on its own traffic scheme that severely restricts private companies’ ability to move manpower and merchandise is bad for business, bad for government and bad for the people – even if some motorists and commuters happen to like it.
A middle ground should be explored and the truck ban under City Ordinance 7570 revised. If smoother traffic is the main objective, there are many other ways of making vehicles move more efficiently, but which have not been adequately tried.
* * *
TRUCK BAN: No wonder the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of all Metro Manila mayors, are looking for ways to convince Manila to do away with or ease its daytime truck ban.
Among the others complaining are truckers, including those ferrying goods to and from the Port Area. They are afraid that raw materials may not be delivered on time or that exporters might miss deadlines and may even lose their contracts.
The MMDA and the MMC aired misgivings in the light of road projects lined up this year aside from Skyway-3: the Ninoy Aquino International Airport elevated expressway, the Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge in Manila, the Makati Avenue underpass, and the Pasay-Taft flyover.
Since President Noynoy Aquino must leave some kind of legacy, they want the “concrete achievements” completed before his term ends in 2016.
* * *
TRY THESE: In addition to easing the crippling truck ban, officials may want to consider other partial remedies that, taken together, can contribute to easing traffic flow:
• Businesses should consider staggered working hours so their personnel do not commute at common busy hours.
• Employees whose work is computer-based and output-measured can be allowed to work at home to save on office space, electricity and commuting time.
• More schools should adopt distance-education using the Internet. Carpooling with safeguards should be adopted for school children coming from a common area.
• Reviving the Pasig river ferry should be considered, with trips made more predictable and rates reasonable. Government should consider subsidizing it.
• Selected thoroughfares should be made strictly no-parking-tow-away zones during rush hours.
• The right engineering and maintenance of roads, including side streets, should be pressed.
• Sidewalks should be cleared and upgraded so pedestrians do not spill onto the streets. Doing business on busy sidewalks should be prohibited.
• Colorum buses and utility vehicles found not roadworthy or in repeated violation should be grounded.
• Upgrading of capacity and efficiency of the light rail system must be rushed and integrated into a mass transport system.
I sympathize with the Share the Road Movement. Complaining that virtually all of the country’s streets are given to the 2 percent that owns cars, the group marched to the Supreme Court last Monday to demand that half of them be given to nonmotorized transport (walking, bicycling) and the other half to a motorized one. Additionally, it demanded that public officials be made to take public transport on a regular basis.
The first is meant to improve Metro Manila’s air, and to contribute to fighting global warming. The second is meant not just to decongest traffic but also to decongest public servants’ brains, enough for them to see how the other half, or other 98 percent, lives.
I’m glad the group has drawn attention to the insanity in our streets, specifically the misallocation of space in favor of private cars. But I’m not so sure the proposals to correct it, specifically the allocation of half of that space to nonmotorized transport, is practicable, at least in the immediate future. While I appreciate the need to improve the environment, I’m also aware of the limitations there. Chief of them is that as of 2011 the urban area of Metro Manila was home to 21,295,000 souls, most of them bedraggled, and many of them needing to haul their carcasses to work in fairly good time to keep souls connected to bodies. They won’t be able to, walking and biking.
But in the spirit of Share the Road’s initiative, I share my own thoughts about what can be done almost immediately to remove the bedlam in the streets.
First off is to recognize that the streets have been invaded by motorcycles and they are here to stay. Which is not a bad thing: They save on gas and they occupy less space. They often ferry two people at a time, and on occasion three, including the child who is going to school.
What is bad is that motorcycle drivers utterly lack discipline. They figure in the overwhelming majority of road accidents in the country, which is not a surprise given the way they leap out of every corner, or at least out of their lanes, and make out like Hell’s Angels. The delivery people of the fast-food chains are constantly racing with each other, weaving in and flowing through the lanes like a stream of liquid metal. On Commonwealth Avenue, you’d often see them in clusters after having been stopped by cops for zooming past the 60-kph limit. For some reason, they seem to think they are exempted from traffic rules.
Can something be done about this? But of course. Look at Vietnam and weep. Ho Chi Minh City isn’t the motorcycle capital of the world for nothing. It is home to 3.5 million motorcycles; virtually every family owns one. You see a veritable Woodstock of them waiting patiently before a red light on every corner. When the light turns green, the horde heaves onward at a uniform speed like vehicles in a parade. Contrast that with our motorcycles sprinting from the starting line, often even before the light changes, and adding noise pollution to air pollution roaring into the various lanes. The maximum speed for a motorcycle in Vietnam is 40 kph, and it is strictly enforced. The drivers violating it are stopped on the spot and get a tongue-lashing from traffic cops in front of an amused crowd, quite apart from a steep fine.
Why in God’s name can’t that be done here?
Second is to give most of the lanes to public transport. Right now, we have a bus and jeepney lane at the rightmost side of the road, a motorcycle lane beside it, and the rest given to private vehicles including delivery vans and trucks. Why not, instead, drastic as it may seem, have a car/private vehicle lane at the leftmost, a motorcycle lane beside it, and public transport lanes for the rest of the street? Of course that discriminates against cars, but it’s a lot more sane to discriminate against someone who is occupying a lot of space and using a lot of gas and air-conditioning to deliver his well-rested ass from points A to B than to discriminate against a hundred people who stood in queues for hours to be able to clamber into buses and stand in aisles for hours to be able to get to and from work.
It would of course help mightily to add more coaches to the trains. The MRT and LRT 1 and 2 look like renditions of Dante’s Inferno during rush hour. Trains are the way to go, inside and outside Metro Manila. Without the LRT, Taft Avenue would be dead now; without the MRT, Edsa would be dead now. Those are the only things that revived them from their moribund state. In New York, nobody in his right mind drives in Manhattan; everyone takes the subway. It’s cheaper, faster, and keeps drivers away from each other’s throats.
And third, yes, require public officials to take public transport once a week at the barest minimum. I wrote about it last year, agreeing wholeheartedly with a group that proposed it. I was particularly reminded at the time of GMA Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez’s defense of the wang-wang, which was that public officials had more important things to do than mere mortals and deserved to get to where they were going first. I said then that stealing was more important than writing only to the thief.
The convenience, if not luxury, of a private car does not allow public servants to serve the public better and faster. It only makes them do so badly and more slowly. Nothing like comfort to make them drag their feet, and nothing like the smell of sweat in an overcrowded bus stuck in traffic to give them an overpowering urgency to do something for the anak pawis. DOTC and MMDA officials should be first in line to experience it. Who knows? Maybe the lesson in humility might even teach Boy Pickup manners.
But, yes, we can put sanity in the streets. It just takes a bit of wit, and a whole lot of will.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2014 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - If Malaca├▒ang can have its way, truckers should not be banned in the streets of Metro Manila, especially at a time when the economy is booming.
Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said this was the position taken by Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, who has been coordinating with the city government of Manila to reconsider its ordinance on daytime truck ban.
Starting today, eight-wheeler trucks are prohibited from traveling the city’s streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Violators of the truck ban will be fined P5,000 and their vehicles impounded.
“We have a very high GDP (gross domestic product) growth because of our export and import,” Coloma said.
“We have to help our exporters, importers and the truckers to move around and consider as well the effects of our infrastructure projects, like the Skyway Stage 3, which started just a week ago,” he added.
Longer window period
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino announced yesterday what he called a “win-win” solution for the local government of Manila and the truckers.
Tolentino said Mayor Joseph Estrada had agreed to lengthen the window time from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The city government of Manila conceded to the requests of truckers and exporters to modify its daytime truck ban.
From an outright ban of trucks during daytime, Manila will now allow trucks to enter the city during a five-hour window, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cargo trucks and cement mixers are included in the ban. On the other hand, haulers carrying perishable goods, oil tankers, and trucks used for government projects are exempted from the ban. But these will have to get permits from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau before they will be allowed to pass through the city streets.
The ordinance was originally set for implementation on Feb. 4 but was postponed due to calls from truck owners and operators to review the truck ban.
Tolentino said the new window time would give truck drivers an additional two hours to travel in the city.
Truck owners and operators had earlier threatened to go on holiday to oppose the truck ban.
Tolentino said they are still studying the city government’s plan to allow trucks to pass through Roxas Boulevard as this is expected to create traffic jams in the area.
Meanwhile, the Port Users Confederation (PUC) yesterday said the 10 p.m. to 3 p.m. window period is not enough for truckers to pick up their cargo from the Manila International Container Terminal and South Harbor.
“That’s too short for trucks to enter the city and haul containers out of the ports,” said Rodolfo de Ocampo, president of PUC and the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines.
He said the implementation of the daytime truck ban will disrupt operations at the two ports.
“We are not sending out our trucks on Monday. But we are not staging a boycott. It’s really not possible to send out a truck to haul containers within that window. Sayang lang ang krudo (It’s just a waste of fuel),” De Ocampo told The STAR in a phone interview.
Truck ban in Caloocan eyed
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan yesterday said the City Council is set to pass a resolution banning cargo trucks from entering the city.
“The council will pass a resolution on Tuesday that would effectively implement a truck ban in the city, particularly in the Dagat-Dagatan area,” Malapitan told The STAR.
He said the city is bent on following Manila’s truck ban out of necessity “because if we don’t, we will be bearing the load.”
Cargo trucks going to Port Area in Manila pass through Dagat-Dagatan Avenue and C-3 Road, creating traffic congestion in the area.
Meanwhile, an administration lawmaker recommended to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to shift cargo traffic from Manila to the Batangas port to help ease traffic congestion due to ongoing major road construction in the metropolis.
Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the BOC should seriously consider this option to lessen the volume of trucks traveling along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
“If the BOC issues an administrative order stating that all Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) bound shipments will only be processed in Batangas port then the cargo volume will naturally shift there,” he said.
Abu said the Port of Batangas is so far the only Customs office in the country that is ISO certified, which proves its world-class capability of handling and processing shipment transactions.
Based on data submitted by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. to the PPA in June 2013, 66 percent of cargo volume that pass through the Manila International Container Terminal are bound for Calabarzon.
Laguna-bound shipment accounted for 43 percent of the total cargo in 2012, with shipments bound for San Pedro, Sta. Rosa, Canlubang and Calamba. Batangas accounted for 15 percent and the remaining eight percent for Cavite.
“In our last committee hearing, PPA reported a mere four percent utilization of the Batangas container terminal. This gross underutilization of a facility built using a P5.5-billion loan from the Japanese government is an injustice to the government due to loss of revenue and the people of Batangas as they are deprived of livelihood opportunities,” Abu said.
Batangas port has modern facilities and adequate road infrastructure from Manila to Batangas, Abu said. – With Perseus Echeminada, Rainier Allan Ronda, Rey Galupo, Paolo Romero
Exemption of priests from number coding sought
By Edu Punay
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2014 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Priests, too, are on call.
And with this nature of their job, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pushed to exempt priests from the number coding scheme.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, said they should be granted exemption from the scheme because priests need mobility – especially with the anticipated heavy traffic in the major roads in Metro Manila due to the Skyway 3 extension project.
“We need total mobility that’s why if possible we want to be exempted from coding because the work of a priest doesn’t have a fixed time,” he said.
Gariguez lamented their duties to administer last rites for dying persons are usually jeopardized by immobility caused by the traffic-coding scheme.
“For example, there is a sick call, somebody died or somebody is in a life and death situation... we priests need to be there right away to cater to their pastoral needs,” he said.
The Skyway 3 will connect the North Luzon (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressways (SLEX) with an elevated expressway over Osme├▒a Highway, linking it with Quirino Avenue in Manila.
“If there’s traffic, our ability to give pastoral ministry will suffer,” Gariguez said.
He said the Mass for weddings or even for funerals may also be delayed if the officiating priest is caught in traffic.
“There will be no problem if the priest is just from the area but if the priest is from elsewhere that might pose a problem,” Gariguez said.
Re-imagining the city's streets to accommodate bikes and cars: It's the law, but how will it work?
By The Times editorial board
February 24, 2014
September brought sweet victory to the growing community of California cycling advocates: Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will prohibit the driver of any motor vehicle from passing a bike rider on the road unless there is 36 inches of space between them. Or, if for some reason that minimal passing distance just isn't possible, drivers will have to slow to a speed that is "reasonable and prudent."
The "3-foot rule" seems quite modest. A yard's worth of pavement between a cruising car or truck and a cyclist, pumping uphill or holding on for dear life on a downward slope, is hardly excessive. Fines are paltry as moving violations go — $35. The law doesn't even take effect until this fall, giving drivers plenty of time to get used to the idea and cyclists and state officials plenty of time to educate them.
But Brown had vetoed two earlier versions of the bill, leaving the impression that California was stuck in a postwar baby boom world in which streets were meant for automobiles alone. The governor's turnabout, after his concerns regarding potential state liability were addressed, was a big deal for cyclists, and perhaps a bit irksome to motorists in a state where car culture enjoyed its blissful adolescence and aggressive young adulthood.
As the bill was being signed, The Times editorial writers were beginning RoadshareLA, an online exploration of the seemingly sudden arrival of cyclists as not just a cultural but a political force in California. Bicycle advocates, for example, helped promote and pass a law — at just about the time the first 3-foot bill was being run off the road — that requires cities and counties to re-imagine their streets as transportation arteries that accommodate the increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians and de-emphasize cars. The law was designed in part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in part to improve road safety, in part to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods where streets had become commuting-hour freeways, and in part, some argue, to reduce obesity. And, others insist, to keep cities here in competition for young professionals who reject their parents' car-oriented outlook and want to live and work in cities that accommodate their car-free lifestyles.
Assembly Bill 1358, known as the Complete Streets Bill, brought to California a nationwide revolution in how we think about our streets, how they're engineered and how they're ultimately used. Los Angeles has begun to notice some of the effects of that law, not just in the number of bike lanes and cyclists who use them but in "road diets" that remove automobile lanes.
Those lane changes may enhance some communities and protect the safety of cyclists. But they also affect the commuting patterns — and needs — of a city laid out for drivers. Consider the 2nd Street tunnel, an east-west passage between downtown and the rest of the city, and an iconic location featured in countless Hollywood chase scenes and car commercials. It's now in part a bike path, with one less car lane in each direction. Has that change added five or 10 minutes — and untold spewing pollutants from idling cars — to the twice-daily downtown commute? How well are we thinking through such changes? Are cyclists and drivers sharing the road, or are they locked in a struggle for street hegemony?
Until now, cycling advocates and transportation planners have responded to complaints about road diets and slower car traffic by pointing out that restriping is relatively cheap. "It's just paint," they said, and can be scraped off if the new traffic patterns prove undesirable.
But Los Angeles is now preparing its first truly "complete street," on Figueroa, creating bike lanes separated from car traffic by concrete curbs. Road diets will no longer be temporary. It's no longer just paint.
RoadshareLA looked at how other cities handle the interaction between cyclists and drivers, including London and New York. This week RoadshareLA concludes with a look back at lessons learned from the discussion, and forward, seeking an agenda for divvying up the asphalt. Readers can follow and join the conversation at latimes.com/roadshare and #roadshareLA. And they can view two videos — one each from the cyclists' and drivers' point of view — that present the challenges facing all Angelenos who try to share the road.
MANILA, Philippines—The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has expressed concern about the “delivery chaos” caused by the truck ban and route limitations imposed by government agencies, stressing that this was not the solution to easing the traffic woes in Metro Manila.
In a statement, ECCP president Michael Raeuber noted that the current truck ban imposed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) created “a reduction in operating time, increases utilization beyond the 70 to 80 percent at peak times, and creates the requirement for more trucks to ply the roads to move accumulated cargoes.”
“To make things worse, the City of Manila threatened to effectively limit port working time to a few hours in the evening, which would create incredible peaks in demand, increase utilization (eventually to 100 percent), increase the required number of trucks in the chain, and eventually shut down trade. That would be close to economic sabotage. At the end of last week, the City of Manila changed tack slightly and opened a window for trucks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Does that make sense? Will that improve things? Sad to say, no,” Raeuber commented.
The city government of Manila implemented on Monday a new truck ban policy in the city.
Raeuber said the solution to the perceived truck problem was to reduce the so-called peaking factors, which refer to the policies that require more trucks to be in circulation, and the need for truckers to park their vehicles while waiting for the bans to end.
“The single best solution for all of the aforementioned issues is to eliminate all truck bans completely and formulate a proper, coordinated and efficient 24-hour truck route regulation system. This will benefit the entire country and will, to everyone’s surprise, actually reduce the traffic impact of cargo trucks,” Raeuber added.
Over the short term, the ECCP also proposed to remove empty containers from the port area by disallowing their storage there. It was reported that 35 percent of the truck traffic was being caused by those that do not carry any cargo.
The flagship traffic decongestion project is a total fraud
February 25, 2014 11:51 pm
by Marlen V. Ronquillo
IN countries where transport planning goes hand in hand with sanity, integrated transport terminals have been archived. The reason is the simple realization that all forms of mass transport should have priority and unhampered use of public infrastructure and roads. In countries such as Singapore, the bus has more right to use public roads than the car of the prime minister.
Who and which get priority in the use of public roads is primordial in modern-day transport planning.
In Munich, which used to be known as the “car capital of the world,” the policy is to encourage walking, biking and mass transport in that order. Rules have been designed to discourage private vehicle ownership.
Where mass transport is the king, and where all modes of mass transport are kings in the use of public infrastructure, the concept of building integrated transport terminals outside of cities has been declared useless and unnecessary. Integrated transport terminals now mean extra stops, extra rides and hampered commute. And a great burden to commuters who do not belong to the top 1 percent.
Even in the US, a society with a fascination for cars, and where cars are synonymous with individual freedom, the debates in the thriving metro areas are about buses and mass transport. San Francisco is right now intensely debating the merits and demerits of Google buses, not the new car models that have been rolled at Detroit. In New York, it is about trains and those blue Citi bikes.
The 21st century has practically eviscerated integrated transport terminals from living memory especially in the countries that do real and serious transport planning.
It is in this context that you really have to ask this question. Why is a dead and obsolete transport policy being resurrected from the dead by the Aquino government? What use will it serve? What economic and social benefits will it bring to the broader society? Why would it do such a thing – move the country backward?
I stand corrected. The Aquino government is not only bringing up this obsolete and senseless policy from the dead. The integrated transport terminal project is in fact part of the centerpiece infra programs of the government under its PPP thrust and it will take billions of pesos to develop it. And it is the main support infrastructure to the supposed traffic decongestion policy of the government. The integrated terminal has been advertised as some sort of ground-breaking idea in transport.
Oh. My. God. Can our planning really violently assault science, environmental needs, and 21st century trends? Why is an outmoded thing at the front, center and back of public planning and policy? Can’t it get this simple point: That buses and other forms of mass transport get the first crack in using public infrastructure and their trips should be point to point and unhampered is backed by the metrics of efficiency.
Buses that use EDSA carry anywhere from 30 to 50 passengers at any given time and the figures applies to both metro and provincial buses. A private vehicle carries one and a half passenger on the average. A gas-guzzling SUV consumes more fossil fuel than the regular diesel-powered bus. From both the reckoning of efficiency and fossil fuel use, buses have the edge. In a normal world, they should be given the full freedom to ply their trade and use the roads. Like what civilized countries have been doing.
Buses and other forms of mass transport carry more people at less fossil fuel and with lesser strain on roads and public infrastructure.
The current experiment to prohibit Cavite provincial buses from entering the city of Manila—and allow loading and unloading commuters only at the Coastal Mall—has not eased the traffic jams in Manila. The Coastal Mall terminal was supposed to relieve Manila of those pesky provincial buses and the supposed monstrous traffic jams that they impact on the city.
With the buses banned from entry into Lawton, or their terminals, hundreds of both legal and colorum jeepneys and UVs have mushroomed in the city and traffic is worse off now. What would you expect when legions of inefficient carriers take the place of a few efficient carriers.
Worse, commuters moving between Cavite and Manila continue to suffer from double trips, additional fares and hour-long waits. The Coastal Mall experiment has brought in mass suffering and commuters have told President Aquino so—and this was during the occasion PNoy went to the Coastal Mall to interview the riding public on what they felt about the experiment. PWDs, senior citizens and pregnant women have been greatly inconvenienced by the double rides.
The results of the experiment are two-fold. An integrated transport terminal will not solve any decongestion purpose. What it does is screw the poor commuters and add to their daily misery and expense.
The integrated transport terminal, if ever it comes into being, will be nothing but a real estate play. The awardee of the contract, an elite consortium or an elite corporate entity for sure, will be given—on a silver platter—a choice real estate development with captive clients, thousands of buses that will be charged per trip.
The broader public, instead of getting express trips into the city, will be greatly inconvenienced by double trips and additional fares. Traffic relief? Come on, we are witness to the zero impact of the Coastal mall experiment.
More, the Philippines will be the laughing stock of transport planners across the globe. It will gain the tarnished reputation as the country that found its Eureka in integrated transport terminals a full century after the terminals have been relegated to the scrap heap of history.