P100-B plan to end traffic woes in 2-3 years
METRO Manila’s traffic woes can’t be solved overnight, but possibly within two to three years, according to a “Marshall-like” solution being offered to presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte by Filipino consortium Philtrak Inc.
Francis Yuseco Jr., who heads Philtrak, said in an interview that his group sent early feelers to the incoming administration to implement, among other items, an elevated bus-based Philtrak Rapid Transit (PRT) system along traffic-strangled Edsa and end road congestion.
Yuseco claims to have invented the technology, known elsewhere as a bus rapid transit (BRT) system involving dedicated bus lanes where passengers are loaded and unloaded at designated stations.
That was a key feature of the group’s Marshall-like plan, in reference to the United States’ massive post-World War II economic aid for Western Europe in 1948 drawn up by then Secretary of State George Marshall. Yuseco said the plan covered the entire country and could cost about P100 billion, with close to half of the amount going to Luzon and Metro Manila.
“We made this parallelism with the Marshall Plan because we’re in that same situation. We need to pour resources into infrastructure and stop losses,” Yuseco said, citing a 2012 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) showing that productivity losses due to traffic in Metro Manila amounted to some P2.4 billion a day.
“The Aquino administration really underspent on infrastructure. So this is a Filipino solution, we can really solve our own problems,” he added.
Yuseco said the Edsa PRT would be a P12.5-billion, single-lane elevated road running more than 50 kilometers along the main thoroughfare, with “turnaround” points at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City and the Monumento Roundabout in Caloocan.
He said the cost would cover the construction of the elevated road and about 96 buses, serving a million passengers a day, approximating the current capacity of Metro Manila’s three elevated train lines, where capacity is strained. Yuseco said bus capacity could ramp up to 3 million passengers daily.
He said the optimistic completion scenario was partly because of right of way, a perennial problem, would be minimized since posts supporting the elevated road could be built on sidewalks, which is government property.
Yuseco said their buses would be air-conditioned and carry between 180 and 200 passengers each and charge rates similar to non-air con buses operating along Edsa today. He said stations would dot the PRT line, with passengers waiting no more than a minute to catch their next ride.
Philtrak is also proposing to build a road using the 30-meter right of way of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) across 1,079 km of train lines stretching across Luzon. Yuseco said this would help boost connectivity and spur development outside the capital district. He said this plan would cost more than P30 billion.
“We’ve already approached some people in the new administration,” Yuseco said, noting that proposals sent to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in the Aquino administration fell on deaf ears. “We might have a better chance since they [Duterte administration] have the tendency to think outside the box.”
The DOTC announced it was planning several BRT projects in the Philippines, starting with Cebu and then Metro Manila, but those projects have yet to be launched commercially. Apart from Yuseco, who claims to hold patents for the BRT dating back to the late 1980s, Philtrak’s other shareholders are bus company Del Monte Motor Works Corp., Micrologics Systems Inc. and Versatech Consultants and Management Corp., an engineering firm with experience in “field transport and traffic analysis.”
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