Showing posts with label traffic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label traffic. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Counter-flow along Ortigas Avenue

Here are some more recent photos of the morning traffic congestion and counter-flow scheme along Ortigas Avenue. The counterflow scheme starts at the approach to the Manggahan Channel Bridge and ends at the approach to C-5 right after the Rosario Bridge. This counter-flow scheme has been used by Pasig, as far as I can remember, since the early 1980s. Ortigas Avenue is one of those roads where the directional distribution of traffic very pronounced for the peak direction.

2015-09-18 08.45.31
Vehicles crowding towards the counter-flow lane on the eastbound side of Ortigas Avenue.
Traffic along this lane is moving, unlike the standstill you will likely experience along the westbound side. This is particularly true at the bridge where buses and jeepneys occupy two lanes and stop for long periods to get passengers. Congestion is exacerbated by vehicles coming out of the residential development in the area. Pasig and MMDA traffic enforcers fail miserably at their duties here. Perhaps this is a job for the PNP-HPG?

2015-09-18 08.54.05
Flowing traffic along the counter-flow lane - note the standstill on the other side
The effort of positioning towards the counter-flow lane is worth it as traffic moves faster here. The argument for counter-flow lanes (or zipper lanes as they are also called) is based on the availability of capacity along traffic lanes of the opposing direction that can be used to optimize utility of these unused lanes (i.e., off-peak direction) by peak traffic. This is a classic transport systems management scheme directed towards efficient and optimum use of existing facilities.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Uber vs taxi

I have two blogs, this one and another devoted to transport and traffic. I sometimes have the same articles on both sites if the topic happened to be about something of common interest to both sites. The LTFRB decision against Uber (recently recalled by the DOTC) has been a hot topic lately and I wanted to express my own opinions on the matter. Following is what I wrote over at my other blog site:

To regulate or not to regulate. That seems to be the issue here in the case of Uber. One respected former top government official, offered his opinion on the matter through his newspaper column where he mentions a "regulatory overreach" by the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Perhaps the agency did not exert all efforts or go the extra mile to assess the situation regarding Uber? Perhaps the agency acted in favor of taxi operators who have complained about Uber services? The information available states the affirmative. The LTFRB itself confirmed that it acted on the complaint filed by a group of taxi operators but they memo alone is unclear of how the board ended up with their decision. Maybe they did not really have a more exhaustive deliberation, looking at the Uber case from other (more progressive) perspectives.

One lawyer friend of ours gave an opinion that Uber should not be treated as a regular taxi whose services are available to everyone and therefore requires a franchise being a public utility. Rather, Uber can be seen instead as an exclusive club with members providing and/or availing of services. Membership in the club is not automatic but has to go through an application process with certain criteria to be satisfied by applicants just like any other exclusive organizations. In Uber's case, the application process as well as the means to avail of services are facilitated by an app, a software available now through smartphones or tablets. Being an exclusive club, it can also charge for services rendered and fees can be agreed upon by members just like what is done in other clubs. This is an acceptable interpretation of how Uber can be seen though it still does not address liability issues in case a vehicle and its occupants are involved in a crash. However, this last concern is precisely what the LTFRB should be discussing with Uber and perhaps insisting for the service to address immediately. This would be the more progressive and proactive approach in handling this case.

I agree that there is a need to review many of our laws, not just on transport, in order to address the many changes that has happened over the years and especially in light of the rapid developments enabled by technological advances and innovations. Many years ago, we have worked with the DOTC to come up with an initiative to review road transport laws and regulations in order to determine, for example, which are outdated and which are conflicting with others. Unfortunately, this initiative seems to have evaporated with the change in the administrations of involved transport agencies back in 2010. So far, what we have read and heard are calls for reviewing laws and regulations specifically related to public utility vehicles in relation to taxis and consequently, Uber.

Meanwhile, taxi services in the country and especially in Metro Manila continue to be found wanting in terms of quality of service. Many continue to be shunned or turned down by taxi cab drivers who tend to be selective of their passengers' destinations. The most common reason for this is perceived (or imagined) traffic congestion along streets leading to the destination. Then there are the more serious cases of swindling, holdups, abductions, and even murder. Modus operandi include taxi drivers collaborating with criminals to rob or kidnap passengers. News and social media are full of these horror stories that make one think twice about riding a cab, especially at night. Of course, not all taxi services are like this and  there are examples of good taxi services in Metro Manila and other cities. On top of my very short list is a certain taxi company that's popular in Iloilo City, Light of Glory. However, these examples are not enough to convince many that they should not have a more comfortable, more secure and perhaps safer option for transport, which is what Uber is claiming it provides. Ultimately, though, public transport services in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country need to be improved and fast in the interest of most people who take public transportation everyday. That way, many people won't really need to avail of other, more exclusive services, for their transport needs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Passing the blame for our traffic mess

We like to bash and criticize public transport drivers for their behavior when we only need to look in the mirror to see who is part of the traffic problem in this country. A lot of private car drivers here and elsewhere in the country tend to attribute traffic congestion to buses, jeepneys, AUVs and taxis while practically washing their hands off the congestion and reckless driving habits that we see everyday along Philippine highways and streets. Many tend to think that only PUV drivers are to blame for our traffic mess when in reality and data-wise there are surely more private traffic on our roads compared with public. Such statistics including mode shares for both vehicular and person trips along major corridors in Metro Manila I will share in another post.

I drive from my home to the office and back almost everyday and I have observed driving behavior for much of my life including the times when I’m in cities in other countries. PUV drivers to me are more predictable than private car drivers in this country. In fact, we can know for sure that PUV drivers will weave their vehicles in traffic and we will always brace ourselves for the aggressive driving every time we encounter PUVs. Such errant behavior, of course, could have been addressed by a stricter and more reliable licensing system for drivers. But that’s another story altogether that’s worth an entire article.

Meanwhile, I share the observation of one friend that many SUV or high-end vehicle drivers “tend to drive like outlaws.” I had articulated in an interview before that many young drivers (and older ones as well) tend to imagine themselves as race car drivers – and proceed by trying to out-speed and/or out-maneuver other drivers the way stuntmen do in the movies. This you can observe whether along a congested street or a free flowing expressway. Evidence to this includes all the road crashes involving private vehicles (including motorcycles) that would certainly out-number those involving PUVs. One thing not going for the PUVsm, however, is that they happen to carry more passengers and therefore more responsibility as a requirement of their being issued franchises. Another proof to irresponsible behavior are postings of claims and photos on social media showing speedometers exceeding speed limits. And yes, there are those who routinely and consciously violate speed limits along expressways for them to be captured by speed cameras. The shots are then used as bragging rights attesting to the driver reaching a certain speed with his/her vehicle.

This morning, I almost got sideswiped by a car who cut my path to make an abrupt right turn to enter the gate of a major private university. I thought I had a clear path to change lanes as I estimated a good distance from the same vehicle who was trailing me on the other lane. Instead, the vehicle accelerated and with horns blaring asserted his right to the lane. I had to use my defensive driving skills to avert a collision. Seconds later, he was blocking my path as he made a right turn at the university’s gate. I could only shake my head in frustration with what happened while an MMDA enforcer looked helplessly as a witness to the incident. A few minutes later, a couple of SUVs coming from a posh subdivision along Katipunan cut our path to make an illegal left turn at a U-turn slot. Vehicles from this subdivision do so regularly and with impunity as if their passengers were more blessed and more important persons than the rest using this major highway.

The examples above are just some of what we usually encounter everyday while traveling or during our regular commutes. These are certainly being caught on video by the MMDA cameras spread out and observing traffic along major roads in Metro Manila. These same drivers might be the first to throw the proverbial stone to their fellow drivers whom they have judged to have committed sins of recklessness when the truth is that they themselves are guilty and only have to look in the mirror to see for themselves who are really to blame for our dangerous and congested roads. Truly, what’s wrong with traffic in this country may not necessarily be with the way we manage traffic or enforce rules and regulations. It might just be the nut behind the wheel that’s defective, after all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

School traffic

One thing I will miss about summers is the relatively light traffic along Katipunan Avenue, which is where I pass through almost everyday between my home and workplace. There is still some congestion during the mid-day and the afternoons but these are typically due to truck traffic as Circumferential Road 5 (C5) is a truck route. During the rest of the year, however, with the exception of most weekends and holidays, severe congestion is experienced along Katipunan during the peak periods, particularly in the mornings between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM. This is due primarily to the traffic generated by schools along Katipunan Avenue, most notably the Ateneo De Manila University and Miriam College. The following photos show typical traffic conditions along C5 during the peak periods.

Slow-moving vehicles along the northbound side of Katipunan Avenue

Congestion along the northbound direction of Katipunan atop the Aurora Blvd. overpass

Congestion along the Katipunan southbound service road leading to the U-turn slot underneath the Aurora Blvd. overpass

Traffic along the southbound service road leads to a U-turn slot under the overpass where many vehicles turn, heading in the general direction of Ateneo. Most turn here in order to enter the university via its Gate 1, which is the main access to the Grade School. On most times, congestion is caused by these vehicles turning right at Gate 1 as they effectively occupy the two lanes of the northbound service road and block all other traffic. This is shown in the following photo where it is clear that vehicles bound for Ateneo and turning at Gate 1 are the main cause of congestion. Beyond Gate 1, the traffic lanes are practically free of congestion.

Vehicles turning right to Ateneo's Gate 1 blocking traffic along the Katipunan northbound service road

The afternoon peak is exacerbated by traffic generated by these schools that lead to longer periods of congestion as the number of private vehicle traffic dramatically increases when there are classes between June and April. Meanwhile, there is a noticeable decrease in traffic during the weekends and holidays. Such phenomenon is mostly attributable to the trip generation characteristics of schools, and especially those that tend towards the generation of much private vehicles. Ateneo and Miriam along Katipunan are just two examples. The traffic they generate and the consequential congestion is replicated in other places as well, giving headaches to motorists and commuters passing along major roads affected by these schools. Ortigas Avenue, for example, is usually congested during the weekdays because of traffic generated by LaSalle Greenhills, and ADB Avenue at the Ortigas Center is usually congested due to traffic attributed to Poveda.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The Filipino or Tagalog translation of the words greedy or selfish seems much more appropriate to use as a term to describe what is arguably the most basic reason why our country is in a rut. It can also be used to describe why our transport systems and traffic is what it is at present. The term suwapang easily and comprehensively defines the way we drive vehicles, ride motorcycles, commute, operate transport services, and enforce or manage traffic. It is also applicable to the way we plan and build infrastructure.

Public utility vehicle drivers are suwapang when they cheat on fares for students and senior citizens, refusing to give the discounts mandated by law. The are suwapang when they race to overtake fellow drivers in order to get to passengers waiting along the roadside. They never mind the safety of their passengers or those in other vehicles around them. To them, the most important thing is to get ahead of everyone else even if in the end those waiting along the roadside or the stop weren’t even heading their way. PUV drivers are suwapang, too, when they cut trips, making it difficult for passengers to get a ride home, to school or to their workplace. Suwapang is also the word appropriate for those refusing passengers for one reason or another. Public transport is, after all and definitely above its business aspect, a service.

Motorcycle riders are suwapang when they disregard traffic rules and regulations and weave in traffic, placing themselves and others at risk of getting involved in a road crash. They are suwapang when they carry more than one other rider (angkas) as what we commonly observe along many roads and with children sandwiched between their parents who seem to not understand the risk they are exposing their children and themselves to.

Tricycle drivers are suwapang when they travel along national roads or highways, fully aware that they are prohibited from doing so. They are suwapang when they charge exorbitant fare for “special” rides. The word also applies when they clog streets due to their numbers, many probably even illegal or colorum units. There are actually too many of them in many areas but they are still steadily increasing as newer tricycles are accommodated or tolerated by the ones supposed to be regulating them.

Transport operators are suwapang when they cheat on vehicle maintenance and place passengers at risk of being involved in a road crash. Poorly maintained vehicles also lead to higher fuel consumption and would definitely have a significant impact on operational costs that is part of the basis for setting fare rates. Suwapang is the word for those who operate gas guzzlers while claiming that it is wholly the rising fuel prices that are to blame for their rising fuel costs. These operators unfairly lobby for increasing fare rates while not doing their part on maintaining their vehicles, effectively imposing the fuel inefficiencies of the vehicles on the riding public.

Commuters are suwapang when they pressure drivers to stop where public transport are restricted from loading and unloading passengers. They do not care about the driver being apprehended and probably paying up for the violation. Commuters are also suwapang when cheating the driver for fares like when they choose or insist to hang on to jeepneys and not pay fares or pretend that they have paid when they have not. They are also suwapang for waiting on the road rather than the road side. They cause congestion because they occupy space intended for vehicles and in effect reduce the capacity of these roads.

Private vehicle drivers are suwapang when they overspeed and weave aggressively in traffic. They do not care about the safety of others nor about rules and regulations that are in place for everyone’s well-being. They are suwapang for demanding more road space when the collective volume of private vehicles are the real cause of congestion, especially when one realizes most vehicles carry only 1 or 2 passengers including the driver. It is inefficient use of road space at best aside from being a waste of fuel and unfriendly to the environment due to the emissions they produce. There are also those who are suwapang when they are turning at an intersection but take instead lanes intended for through vehicles, often causing congestion as they block other vehicles. They are also suwapang when they do not have off-street parking where they reside and leave their vehicles to occupy precious road space, reducing capacity and contributing to traffic congestion in the process. Also suwapang are those who still have sirens (wang-wang) installed on their vehicles for their convenient use, despite the no wang-wang policy being implemented.

Traffic enforcers are suwapang when they extort money from drivers instead of issuing them the traffic ticket for legitimate violations of traffic rules. They are more suwapang when they unscrupulously apprehend motorists for what the former claim were violations by the latter but are actually not, in order to eventually extort money from them. These are quite awkward situations since either or both parties may not even be knowledgeable of the rule or rules that were violated in the first place, if any. Enforcers are also suwapang for extorting money or tong from drivers of goods or freight vehicles. Their activities only lead to an increase in the prices of commodities such as rice and vegetables.

Our government leaders, planners and engineers are suwapang for poorly planned, designed and prioritized infrastructure. Perhaps some are more concerned with their cuts in the budget for transport infrastructure than the quality of a project and its overall benefit to the public. They are suwapang because they choose to benefit themselves (sarili) over the good of their country (bayan), securing their pockets and their own futures when they should be securing the future of the nation as is required of those in public service. They are suwapang because they hinder the nation’s development and deprive people of an efficient transport system for both mobility and accessibility.

Some in the private sector are considered suwapang for collaborating with politicians, planners and engineers described previously. They can also be considered suwapang for pushing for projects that should not be prioritized but are assessed to be so due to their connections with people in power. They, too, hinder this country’s development and deprive people of the efficient system they deserve.

So the inevitable question is – Are you swapang?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gearing-up for a Decade of Action for Road Safety: 2011-2020

Today we are holding a Road Safety Conference with the theme "Gearing-up for a Decade of Action for Road Safety: 2011-2020." The theme is consistent with a worldwide campaign led by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and its partners that aims to curb the sharp increase in the incidence of road crashes. The program was actually launched last year at the Road Safety Forum held in October in Singapore and formalized with the first Transport Ministers' conference on road safety held in Moscow the following month of November.

The Road Safety Conference in the Philippines is organized by the Automobile Association Philippines and the National Center for Transportation Studies of UP, and is mainly sponsored by Toyota Motor Philippines as a major part of the latter's advocacy for road safety. Partners include SafeKids Philippines, Pilipinas Shell and 3M Philippines. This year, we are happy to have on board the fledgling GRSP Philippines (PGRSP) that is comprised of major companies dedicated in promoting road safety in the country.

The program includes 3 panel discussions with the first one tackling road safety legislation including the status of the Road Safety Bill filed in the last congress. The second panel discussion will feature the International Road Assessment Program (i-RAP) that will be implemented in the Philippines through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The assessment will involve an automated audit of more than 4,000 kilometers of roads throughout the country. These include roads classified under the Asian Highway (AH) network as well as the tollways of Luzon island. The third panel discussion will be on eco-safe driving. which is a practice that aims to promote both safety and energy efficiency by encouraging more relaxed driving while putting emphasis on regulating the driver's use of the gas pedal. The latter, in effect, allows the driver to manage the engine revolution so that upon acceleration and during cruising, the engine will only reach around 2,000 r/min maximum.

These are but among the many topics that are part of the bigger picture that is road safety. They are surely among the most interesting ones that are oriented toward actions necessary if we are to succeed in cutting down the steady rise in road crashes and save lives. The topics are also a welcome departure from past conferences where many presentations showed statistics and sought to establish context for road safety initiatives. That context is already well established and if one is not aware or has a clear understanding of the state of road safety, then perhaps that person is disconnected with what is happening around him.

This year's Road Safety Conference will be held at the GT Toyota Asian Center Auditorium at the University of the Philippines Diliman. It is a whole day event that starts at 9:00 AM and concludes at 5:00 PM.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I read a news article about a candidate for vice mayor in a large city in Metro Manila who descended, along with the candidate's henchmen, on a group of MMDA personnel who were just doing their duty removing campaign materials from light posts and railings. The candidate allegedly accused the MMDA personnel of singling out the former's posters and proceeded to bully the personnel. According to the article, if not for the timely arrival of a police vehicle, the MMDA personnel would have been roughed up by the henchmen.

I guess the subject of the article represents many, but I hope not most, of those presenting themselves to be voted for public office this coming May 10. One word seems most appropriate for these people - abusive. If they are already abusive and act as if they are above the law while campaigning, what can we expect from these people when they do get voted into office?

Among my pet peeves are motorists using sirens (aptly referred to as "wang-wang" in Pinoy onomatopoeia) to get ahead of others in traffic. Then there are those who do not use their signal lights to indicate their intention to change lanes. These days, I've observed that many of these vehicles are those of candidates and their supporters. I am usually incensed that they do not have any regard for other people time and property and I've seen many incumbents running for reelection (or have their kin running in their stead) using government vehicles and police escorts to their advantage.

Transportation and traffic being an important part of what I am (I make a living in this field.), I can strongly conclude that one reason we do not have good transportation systems in this country is because our elected leaders do not have to contend with traffic congestion and the specter of being involved in a traffic accident. They get special treatment at airports and do not get to experience first-hand the inconvenience of queuing at immigration and waiting for your flight in sweaty departure areas. They don't experience the sardine-like conditions in trains and the mediocre services of our jeepneys, buses and tricycles.

It is sad that despite his claims to know what to do about traffic, a former MMDA Chair in fact rode a motorcycle escorted vehicle together with a convoy of about 6 to 8 vehicles and never got caught in traffic like most of us voters do. I know, because I've experienced being waved away from the convoy's path. Then there are those sporting the all too familiar license plates declaring they were senators and congressmen who seem always in a hurry for something.

I do salute public servants I know who are doing their darn best to improving traffic and transport and seem to have too little time to do their thing. Many of them remain nameless even after assuming positions of influence. But there are a few who have made a name for themselves for being mavericks in their own ways. Sadly, these people might be out of their jobs once a new administration is elected this May. I do hope they remain in their offices and am crossing my fingers that we do not have abusive people replacing them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Was caught in particularly heavy traffic this morning. Sad to say, but it took a traffic jam along my route to work to make me write a post here.

Katipunan Avenue was again clogged and it took me an hour and a half to cover 2 kilometers. What can be more frustrating than burning liters of fuel while sitting in a traffic jam when there should be none at all? The culprit? We can all blame (yes, there is no other word more appropriate) it on the MMDA. I'm not even sure if orders came from the Chair himself, knowing that most of his people are actually spineless beings unable to make their own decisions. Wait, maybe they've evolved into creatures with little spines and a little brains (I trust the dinosaurs had larger ones.) because they just f*$#ed up Katipunan traffic.

I was quite amused when a crowd from the informal settlement across Miriam College gathered on the pedestrian overpass to cheer regular people, parents taking their children to school, getting out of their cars and engaging MMDA personnel who were helpless in (mis)managing the traffic. My applause though was reserved to Miriam College guards who safely guided children across Katipunan so they can make their classes rather than sit helplessly in their vehicles and maybe hear their parents, guardians or drivers cuss to kingdom come.

Traffic along Katipunan has alwasy been predictable, before and after the U-turn scheme was implemented. The peak periods are easily associated with the school schedules. Katipunan after all, is shared by three major institutions in University of the Philippines Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University, and Miriam College. Elementary trip generation will tell you (and most people using Katipunan know this), for example, that the critical hour in the morning is 6:30 - 7:30 AM. Before that and after that, Katipunan is manageable if not free flowing. But even during that period, traffic is and has always been tolerable, unless of course you happen to be one who doesn't plan your trips and blame everyone else for the traffic but yourself. But that's another story.

Experimenting with the U-turns in Katipunan the way its been done by the MMDA will always cause undeserved inconvenience, stress and fuel consumption to users of that road. There is actually nothing wrong with the traffic and congestion is a normal thing. Any attempts to fix something that isn't broken will only make matters worse. Another lesson learned from the awful experience today but only for us who actually care or give a damn in learning and improving. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to the folks at the MMDA.