Sustainable Mass Transport seen as solution to country’s traffic woes

According to the MMDA, there are currently about 3.6 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila alone sharing a total of 3,090 kilometers of national, city, municipal, and barangay roads. This means that each vehicle only has 0.86 meter of road allocated for its mobility. No wonder the metropolis experiences daily traffic jams. Not to mention the smog and other air pollutants produced by motor vehicles in the country. In addition to this is the cost of imported fossil fuels the country has to earmark amounting to one billion pesos a day just to run a motor vehicle-dependent population.

According to the MMDA, there are currently about 3.6 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila alone sharing a total of 3,090 kilometers of national, city, municipal, and barangay roads. This means that each vehicle only has 0.86 meter of road allocated for its mobility. No wonder the metropolis experiences daily traffic jams. Not to mention the smog and other air pollutants produced by motor vehicles in the country. In addition to this is the cost of imported fossil fuels the country has to earmark amounting to one billion pesos a day just to run a motor vehicle-dependent population.

Yet, the mobility requirements of the Filipino nation cannot just be ignored. Sen. Pia Cayetano filed Senate Bill No. 26 or the “Sustainable Transportation Act of 2013” to develop sustainable and alternative modes of transportation so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage energy consumption, use precious urban areas efficiently, reduce time and travel costs, as well as promote an active lifestyle.

The bill mandates the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to come up with a sustainable transport action plan that would achieve a “mode shift target” over a period of time. Sen. Pia Cayetano envisions a shift from motor vehicle use to sustainable mass transport systems, as well as, mobility through walking and cycling. As such, the bill includes the provision of adequate walkways that allow safe pedestrian passage. The bill also includes the designation of bike lanes, and establishment of bicycle parking spaces and bike racks, to promote bicycle use.

SB No. 26 also recognizes the fact that rail transport systems are sometime too expensive and take some time to construct. Because of this, the bill recommends the commissioning of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems wherein sections of roads be designated exclusively for buses that would operate like trains. Water Ferry systems should also be considered in numerous navigable bodies of water throughout the Philippines.

The first BRT system was operated in Curtiba, Brazil in 1974. BRT systems vary around the world, but generally a fully developed BRT system should have: 1) Busway alignment in the center of the road (to avoid typical curb-side delays); 2) Stations with off-board fare collection (to reduce boarding and alighting delay related to paying the driver); 3) Station platforms level with the bus floor (to reduce boarding and alighting delay caused by steps), and; 4) Bus priority at intersections (to avoid intersection signal delay). The BRT improves the efficiency of buses to that of subways and mass rail transits at a much lower cost. A BRT is currently being planned in Cebu City and estimated to be operational in 2014.

Meanwhile, the operation of the Pasig River Ferry System was suspended indefinitely by the Aquino Administration in early 2012 to cut costs. The Ferry System was heavily subsidized by the Government.

Finally, travel demand management programs will be instituted should the bill pass into law to curb demand for motor vehicle use. These programs would include: Carpool, vanpool, or car-share projects, Congestion pricing methods, promotion of telecommuting, and flexible work schedules and satellite work centers.

 

Sustainable Transportation Act of 2013

Sustainable Transportation Act of 2013

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