rethinking public transport

So, had enough of the Erap verdict? If you haven't, go visit Roby Alampay's op-ed piece in The Guardian UK (which I consider to be the last word on the matter), then come back here so we can talk about more immediate matters, like the quality of daily life in our megacity.

Question: If you were running a company and you knew that 78% of your assets traveled through a single channel, wouldn't it be in your strategic interest to that make sure that channel operated as efficiently as possible?

Well, then, what should we do about public transportation in Metro Manila?

Everyday, nearly 8 out of every 10 person trips (that's 1 person, taking one trip, in one vehicle, from one point to another) in our megacity is taken via public transportation.

In 2002, that meant 20M out of 25.7M person trips per day. That's twenty million individual movements. That's the production base of the your megacity's economy going from home, to work, or to school, or to get their daily needs. -That's 78% of the person trips that generates 1/5 (or more) of the national GDP.

It's obvious isn't it? It's management 101 - to become more productive, make your major channels as efficient as possible (more efficient than your minor channels).

So, what have we done to make public transportation more efficient?

We've invested heavily and are planning to expand our investments in an expensive, but still fragmented, light rail network. We're buying back the MRT to the tune of $865-million and throwing in another P6.57-billion to finally connect the northern end of the MRT to the LRT. (And yet, have we thought about connecting one of these lines to the airport?)

We're putting in more monies into the LRT-7 (a private initiative that smells more like a real estate deal), the Northrail, the extension of LRT-1 (LRT-6) to Zapote and are upgrading the PNR service to Laguna. -All these investments in rail infra takes us decades to build. Meanwhile, Jakarta has rolled out 159 kilometers of bus rapid transit in just the last 3 years.

We've put in an Organized Bus Route system (basically just a traffic management tool) to control bus flow on EDSA. We're even flirting with using electric jeepneys (a move I'm personally not too excited about).

All of which will make some dents on demand but will probably still miss by a wide margin in fulfilling the crying needs in public transport.

The MRT barely moves 500,000 people a day, they need to invest more money to up the service to 650K/day. The LRT/Megatren combined barely scratch 400,000 passengers a day. -So those three existing rail systems carry at most, 1M people. If you assume those are roundtrip passengers, then that's 2M person trips per day - less than 10% of the share of public transport. (And you wonder why there are still jeepneys on our roads.)

The coming investments in light rail and high speed commuter rail are all primary trunk transport routes, if we hope to make the megacity more productive, then we have to seriously reconsider reforming and re-investing in the secondary and tertiary transport systems.

I don't have the answers, but I hope seeing those numbers should change your perspective.

As difficult as it is to drive through Metro Manila to get from one point to another in your private car, our most important investments (investments that will bring the most direct returns in quality of life and competitiveness of the metro) don't lie in widening our roads or speeding up automobile traffic -so you can drive faster. It lies in rethinking our tricycles, our jeepneys and buses and the routes they serve.

All transport data from MMUTIS and LTO, c. 2002
via a presentation on BRT in Metro Manila by Dr. Ricardo Sigua NCTS
(ppt file, 1.8mb)

Image credit: toda by aileron


nice map

Found this Time population map via the Signal v. Noise blog on 37Signals.

It warms my map geek and data visualization heart. (See the original -and bigger version here.)

TIME Graphic by Joe Lertola
From US Census Data


new cities in new valleys

I've talked about Ayala Land's vast land holdings in Canlubang before and how that will definitely figure into the future of our megacity. Apparently they've laid out the vision of the shape of that new development. (Ah, the tribulations of unrequited and long distance love - when you live and work away from the city you call home. News gets by without you.)

Jo, the ManilaRat, keyed me in on the developments in Nuvali in her latest post.

Heard about AyalaLand's new project in Canlubang, called Nuvali (from the Latin nuvo meaning "birth of a star"). Literally a "new valley" in the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay area, it's a 1,600-hectare megatownship development set for full bloom over the next 40 to 50 years. Eyed as the next Makati, its main thrust is 21st century technology meets back-to-basics harmony with nature. Think eco-friendly, ultra-modern sustainable living: clean lines, fluid designs, integrated zones (residential, business, services), and green green green everywhere.
So I hied off to the Ayala Land site (and noticed how it seems to be so geared towards the OFW -or Pinoy Expats, as Dave Llorito prefers -market) and jumped off to Nuvali site. (Warning: bad UI flash-based website.)

I was eager to look for broad sketch masterplans but all the site had was spiffy marketing marterial. You can download pdf copies of an ad series about Nuvali that they ran in the Philippine Star. (Another warning: they make you pass through a copyright agreement. -duh!)

The content is worth it, if you can stand the marketing speak ("evoliving" -? really???) and the weird commitment to pseudo-italian placenames ("Abrio" -?!?). The sidebar on "design and planning initiatives" (see below) were significant.

I'll definitely cheer for de-emphasizing cars and multi-use (read: mixed-use) neighborhoods. Kudos also to a "future that veers away from the severe sprawl of conventional urban development."

To that end, Joel Luna, Chief Architect of the Ayala Land Innovation and Design Group, says they are building wider sidewalks:

"...to encourage more people to walk rather than take their car. This is also safer and more pedestrian friendly. We are also building narrower pavements...so there's more room for natural landscaping. There will be double-rows of trees instead of the typical single row."

So their are paying attention to pedestrian mobility and comfort -and the micro-climate.

Then there's this sidebar:

Can Ayala accomplish all this? Despite the marketing gloss, I have no doubt that they will. They are patient enough and forward looking enough (remember it took them 50 years to fully develop the Ayala CBD, and they waited close to decade for Metro Pacific to go belly up on Fort Bonifacio -and now it's in their control) and have the deep pockets to see this through.

The one aspect I will be looking closely at: whether they can escape their elitist past and be willing to mix incomes and avoid the segrated, gated, high-walled enclaves that I suspect add to the (spatial) roots of our discontent.

It'll probably take about 5-10 years to get the full expanse of the project - another 10 to fully build out the infra, but this will definitely be another mega-project that will shape the future of our megacity.

Image credit: swiped from ALI's website
doesn't this cover fair-use?

(p.s. -er, nuvali? can we change the name? to something a little more asian? spanish even?)


brand and neurwith on cities

This one's short but sweet: from the TED Talks, a 3 minute version of Stewart Brand's talk on cities.

And if you have more time (14 minutes) here's Neurwith on Squatter Cities.


"A Boy with Mickey Mouse Hands"

The Los Angeles Asian Journal featured Jack in the pages of its Sept. 5-7, 2007 issue.

Cynthia de Castro's article on Jack starts below the fold on the front page (all links to pdf copies), and continues on page 4, page 5, and page 11.



Please keep praying for Jack.

(Doodle is Jack's latest -while he is confined at the Children's Hospital of L.A.)

It reads:

Prayer for Jack: Lord help Jack live long. Amen.
Prayer for healing: Heal Jack Lord. Amen.

Quick Links

Notable posts on the metro