Sunday, February 7, 2021

On the SWS survey showing that 9/10 Filipinos want priority for public and active transport on roads

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) recognizes the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed Filipinos want priority be given to public and active transport on roads. We see this as proof that the face of transportation in the country is indeed changing, especially in this period that the country is grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We acknowledge this demand by the public, and it is in fulfilling this desire that the DOTr has been implementing projects geared towards providing commuters with access to faster, reliable, safe and efficient means of mass transportation; and to open infrastructure for active transportation such as walking and cycling.

In the works are several key mass transport systems and high-capacity public transport vehicles, to move more people while using less vehicles and occupying less road space.

In the railways sector, the DOTr and its attached agencies continue to pursue the construction, rehabilitation or expansion of several railway projects. These include the country’s first ever subway system. In fact, tomorrow, we are going to unveil to the public the 74-ton cutterhead of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) “Kaunlaran”, that recently arrived in the country.

We are also completing projects such as the extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Extension from Metro Manila to Cavite— stalled for almost two (2) decades, but is now targetted for partial operations by the 4th quarter of 2021; the LRT-2 East Extension from Santolan to Masinag, which will be completed in April; the PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos), that is targeted for partial operations by 4th quarter of 2021; the Common Station, which is expected to be completed by the 4th quarter of 2021; the MRT-7 from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan, shall be ready for partial operations by 4th quarter of this year and for full completion by 2022; and the MRT-3 rehabilitation, which is slated for completion in July 2021.

We have also pushed for the acquisition of new train sets for the MRT-3, LRT-1, and Philippine National Railways (PNR) lines to increase their respective capacities, among others. In fact, we now have four (4) 4th Generation LRVs out of 120 for LRT-1 and its Cavite Extension; three (3) new Diesel Hydraulic Locomotives (DHL) and fifteen (15) passenger coaches are now being used, and that which completes the PNR re-fleeting strategy in 2018 [37 cars/passenger coaches and 3 locomotives]. Further, the contract for the rolling stock of the Metro Manila Subway Project has been signed last December 2020.

Through these, the DOTr is putting in place mass public transportation as the principal means for mobility to reduce dependence on private vehicles, with the objective of reducing exhaust emissions, given that 70% of air pollution is from vehicle emissions.

Meanwhile, in the road transport sector, the shift to clean energy of public buses and other public utility vehicles has become more relevant and timely with the pandemic.

Thus, through the LTFRB, we are rationalizing routes and undertaking the Public Utility Modernization Program (PUVMP) to ensure order, efficiency, safety and protection of the environment through clean fuel use in public land transport.

We are gearing towards a public transport that has clean energy-powered public buses, particularly high-capacity electric-powered vehicles, to move people while using less vehicles.

We are also currently conducting the Service Contracting program to, not only help PUV drivers to make up for loss income during the restrictions, but also to upgrade the quality of public transport service they provide.

We are fully developing the EDSA busway in accordance with global standards to optimize its potential for moving commuters and for this purpose, work for the allocation of the required road space.

With a majority of Filipinos saying that active transport is possible in their localities, we, at the DOTr, are supporting and facilitating the use of other forms of mobility such as bicycling and walking.

For this purpose, we support the recovery of lost sidewalk space due to past car-oriented road space use policy, where roads were widened by encroaching on sidewalks and cutting down trees.

To take a notch higher, we are determined in our push for more infrastructure to serve the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

At present, the DOTr is expanding bicycle lanes in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao under the Bayanihan 2 Bike Lane Networks project. Around 29 kilometers of bike lanes were already established to date. Before the year ends, we intend to add 140 kilometers of bike lanes to the country’s expanding bike lane network.

We are also actively pursuing the Bike Sharing Program with a total of 31 bike sharing stations already operational across Metro Manila as of February 2021.

The concept of a “walkable community” is also on top of our active transport list, with the EDSA Greenways Project Phase 1. The project aims to establish “greenways” or walkable nodes at different railway stations. It aims to serve 1.1 million pedestrians daily in 2023 and 1.2 million/day in 2051. Target partial operations of the project is by December 2021, and full operations by February 2023.

We are also pushing forward with the EDSA Busway Bridge with Concourse Project which will assist pedestrians in safely crossing EDSA as they alight from the designated bus stops along the thoroughfare.

Outside Metro Manila, we are promoting public and active transport on roads through the establishment of bus systems.

In Cebu, the DOTr is pushing for the partial operability of one of the crucial segments (Package 1) of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (Cebu BRT) within 2021. DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade ordered a 24/7 construction work schedule for the project. The Cebu BRT’s Package 1, which covers the 2.6-kilometer busway, with four (4) stations, urban realm enhancement, and vital intersection improvements, is already at the procurement stage.

In Davao, a modern high priority bus system shall provide an efficient, world-class, and affordable mode of transportation through the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project (DPTMP). We are likewise targeting its partial operations this year as the parcellary works are currently ongoing following the awarding of its contract.

These projects prove that the DOTr is indeed looking forward to serve more commuters with better mass transport option, and is in full support of the government’s thrust to enhance mobility and connectivity through the provision of mass transport infrastructure across all transport sectors in the country.

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