To solve Manila’s traffic, start with facts and goals, not the well-being of interest groups

Exhibit A (Google Maps)

By JoeAm

The Philippines is a nation run by interest groups, not ideas. So solutions are seldom found. Interest groups get in the way.

Well, we need to crack through that barrier with a 10 pound sledge hammer.

Here is my solution to Manila traffic, starting with a few facts . . . which are really assumptions because statistica aren’t the best around here. But if they are reasonable, they lead to certain goals, and from the goals, we can derive solutions.

Orientation reading: Current EDSA traffic volume already at holiday-season level, says MMDA

  • “Daily traffic on EDSA is from 386,000 to 402,000 vehicles per day. The average running speed of these vehicles was an incredibly slow 19.37kph.”

Well, the following paper is a bit thin, I suppose. But it pushes vested interests aside in favor of getting people moving.

The facts:

  • Hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of people need one or two rides every day.
  • Private cars are a major part of the problem. They are a small part of the solution.
  • Multiple cities with power to block solutions are a huge part of the problem.
  • Multiple transportation groups and bus lines are a major part of the problem. There are over 1,000 different bus companies!
  • Trains can be an important part of a longer term solution but Manila needs help now.
  • There can be no simple solution that makes everyone happy.
  • Jams occur at traffic intersections or bus stops that cannot handle the capacity of vehicles trying to pass through. The jams accordian back to form gridlock.
  • Motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians can accelerate movement for individuals, but make roads risky. Manila lacks the infrastructure to manage them as key solutions in the near term.
  • Most traffic is north to south, and south to north.

The goals:

  • National law must establish a Metro Traffic Czar with power to over-rule local laws.
  • This should be a statistical business: how many people can be moved how fast?
  • Private cars must be removed from streets in high density worker/residential areas.
  • All Metropolitan bus lines must be consolidated into one Public/Private bus line to properly organize and rationalize routes.
  • Many more buses are needed to move the most people the fastest, today.
  • Many more local shuttle buses are needed to clear the road of low-efficiency jeepneys and tricycles and move people comfortably for short distances.
  • All other initiatives can be addressed as being of secondary or longer term importance.

The proposal:

  • The Traffic Czar will oversee the following major functions: (a) road control, (b) parking facilities, (c) station ingress and egress, (d) bus operations, (e) shuttle bus operations, (f) taxi and car operations, (g) technology and data, (h) law, and (6) planning and development.
  • Transportation control will be computerized to the extent possible, in short order. Vehicle counts, passenger movement counts, road traffic counts, parking counts, traffic control timing.
  • A one-way circular bus route will be established to run EDSA southbound, all lanes, connecting with Roxas northbound, all lanes. See Exhibit A. This will be called the “Loop”. There will be no more than six stops for each bus along the Loop. Buses will be color coded to indicate the stops they will make. Blue. Red. Yellow. It will be a controlled, safe race to get to the next stop.
  • Point to point buses will run from the Loop stops to and between other key points within the loop (malls, train stations, and employment centers, for example). There will be few stops along point to point routes. The current P2P service will be re-oriented and expanded to carry more passengers.
  • Private cars will be banned inside the Loop from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm with the exception of authorized Taxi services (unified under one company), law enforcement, ambulances, and important public vehicles. Taxi service will be expensive.
  • Motorbikes will be allowed inside the loop. Maximum of two riders, both with helmets. No racing, counter-flow,  or zig-zagging allowed.
  • Private cars can pass between North and South expressways with no exit from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.
  • Roads crossing the loop will be blocked during the day to allow only a few ingress and egress routes across the Loop. Buses must move fast and steady.
  • Construction work that requires vehicle access or interferes with traffic must be scheduled from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am unless declared an emergency project
  • Major Park and Ride facilities will be established at key locations just outside the the Loop. Three primary locations are shown on the Map in Exhibit A. National laws will give the Traffic Czar authority to acquire needed properties for the three major facilities (multiple story parking garages). Other facilities around the Loop will be privately owned and constructed as market demand justifies.
  • Shuttle services will be organized to serve local communities, for example, Manila proper or Makati. They will travel between point-to-point dropoffs and major residential or office locations.
  • An army of traffic control officers will be deployed to trouble spots and to police offenses (vehicles stopping in traffic lanes). Fines will be punitive.
  • Cities outside the loop will be expected to design their own complementary improvement plans in concert with Metro.
  • The scheme will be operational within 18 months of law passage.

What it will be like:

A commuter outside the loop is on his own. Within the loop, he may expect a fast and comfortable mass transport ride to his destination.

  • Park in the park-and-ride parking lot adjacent to the Loop.
  • Circle the loop and/or take a point-to-point bus.
  • Take a local shuttle if necessary.

The most troublesome ride would involve car, loop bus, point to point bus, and shuttle. All moving fast. All comfortable. A train ride from outlying cities would go from the train station, to point-to-point, to shuttle.

Additional thoughts:

  • Pay transportation officials ‘international wages’ to attract high competence.
  • Don’t moralize about the inequity of taxi service being available to the rich, or any other unfairness. Move people and everyone is a winner.

Rule for criticisms:

There is only one rule for criticisms.

If you point out a flaw in the logic or solutions, you must propose a way to solve the problem.

For example, if your criticism is “there aren’t enough bus stops to handle the greatly increased bus traffic”, you might suggest “the right two lanes can be dedicated to bus loading and unloading. The third lane will be an ingress/egress lane to the flow lanes on the left.”

If your criticism is “park-and-ride facilities will be a zoo, with heavy demand”, you might suggest “hire Disneyland California’s garage genius to design the three major facilities; pay him 5 million dollars”.


92 Responses to “To solve Manila’s traffic, start with facts and goals, not the well-being of interest groups”
  1. Douglas Rosete says:

    That was very interesting if the MMDA/DOTr will ever read it. On top of that UP have already submitted so much studies and recommendations . There is also LOI 43 PP 1081 which deals with traffic and related matters throughout the country. Everything else is common sense .

    • Thanks Douglas. The 10 pound sledge needs to clear old-school “make-a-deal” politicians out of the way.

      • Douglas Rosete says:

        It seems the bone of contention is “emergency powers”.Right ? It is a no go. There seems to be no solution unless “emergency powers “is granted. Meanwhile ,Edsa traffic conditions is getting into everyones nerves,including the President . So tama na, sobra na tiis ng madlang people. My final answer is declare “martial law ” in Metro Manila alone just like in Mindanao. Problem solved. It will be recalled that PFM”s declared PP 1081 and pursuant to that issued LOI 43 specifically to deal with the chaotic traffic conditions not only in Metro Manila but througout the country to attain smooth flow of traffic. Everyone then will need to tow the line, including operations against illegal drugs,illegal gambling, other criminalities, corruption, all forms of rackets including jaywalking and the like. Sounds silly or doable? Its your choice folks. Its beyond politics.

        • I don’t think emergency powers for the President are needed, but a national law that establishes a governing agency for Manila traffic that can over-rule local laws. My presumption is “regularity” in the way laws and agencies work. That is of course a crazy presumption these days.

  2. From “Ipe Diman” on Twitter. Noted here for the record.

    •24/7 traffc enforcers on major, busy streets & intersections
    •strict implementation of CCTV – no contact apprhension: to include motorcycles, tricycles + enforcers missing-in-action:
    > only CCTV can solve “when d cat is away, d mice wl play”
    > 24/7 manning of CCTV

  3. karlgarcia says:

    vehicles must have ten year life span.
    banks must make terms of payment less affordable, i.e. Higher down payments lesser years to pay.
    Vacant lots must be used for neighborhood parking lots, pay for slots.
    Multi-level parking lots with cctv near residences.


    • The economics are quite promising, I think. Parking lot opportunities would be good, along the loop, I think. Buses have a useful life around 12 years I read, and cost around $350,000 to $850,000 for all electric. I think the loop would require about 1,200 buses, and more for inside, including a couple thousand shuttle buses. Dotr estimates there are 13,000 buses on the road today. I think a lot of them are outside the loop area.

      I don’t yet know about e-trikes. The concept is good, but that would require additional study. I’d opt for mid-sized commuter shuttles as the way to go short distances. Comfort. Volume.

  4. Ticketing. I didn’t address that. I envision there be an activation device (National ID or Transit Card with readers at front of the bus (getting on) and back (getting off), with the distance automatically calculated, added to the consumer’s account and charged to his bank account monthly. Otherwise, they’d have to stand in line to buy a ticket and that is a hassle. That whole area needs some brain work with tech specialists in the business.

  5. acrvillanueva says:

    Implement equal wages for both metro manila and the provinces, increase jobs in the province, develop agricultural value chain for jobs = less people should work in manila = traffic decongestion

  6. Excellent ideas Joe. Details are details which can be discussed. The loop makes great sense in one or maybe two directions.

    Proposed lots for some P+Rs: front of Camp Aguinaldo, part of Veterans Hospital lot – huge spaces. Possibly other P+Rs further outside with P2P bus lines that take people to the loop. Private cars can take C5 during the daytime.

    By December Skyway 3 courtesy of PNoy opens so there will be a straight way from NLEX to SLEX, cars can take that way.

  7. Kamote Procopio says:

    This is simple and great which has been practiced here in Singapore.
    Even parking lots from residential areas already have gantries with RFID scanners.

  8. Pablo says:

    It may seem unrealistic, but coming from The Netherlands, you see that bicycles could be part of a solution. It may be a wild idea, but if you look at the traffic density of a single cycle lane at rush hour, you would need many, many car lanes if people would use the cars. It maybe coincidence, but my average speed in The Hague is 17kmh by bike which almost equates the average Edsa speed. Maybe it is socially unacceptable in Philippines to expect a manager to come by bike instead of a posh car, but that is the reality of life over here. Even the prime minister goes to office by bike. I am quicker doing my shopping, going to the schools and get home using the bike. And parking is easy. The biggest bike parking for 12500 bikes is being completed in Utrecht. Just imagine 38 footballfields would be needed for cars…
    It could combine with your park-and-ride: park your car and take the bike into the city. But, for the pampered top of the Filipino pyramid, nothing but the biggest and poshest cars is good enough, so the social challenge of getting them to use bikes might be an insurmountable problem.

    A similar experience, I had in Vietnam. Enormous amounts of motorbikes. If people would switch from motorbikes to cars, it would cause a deadly gridlock.

    But even in both cases mentioned, traffic gets congested with bikes (Holland) and motorbikes (Vietnam) and that leads to the conclusion that there actually is only ONE sustainable solution and that is to create an PUBLIC TRANSPORT system and get rid of anything motorized.

    It seems to have worked in Barcelona where the city was forced to solve the gridlock as part of the deal to get the olympic games and now Barcelona is a pleasure to walk in because the public transport system is efficient and serious traffic jams are history. Aparently millions of tourists are of the same opinion and in spite of the huge amount of additional tourists, gridlocks are seldom.

    Imagine New York or Moscow without metro. About 6 million passengers daily and imagine these people using cars.
    So, if public transport works, somehow this has to be the main philosophy and implemented religiously. Tough on the cars and the people who think that it is part of their personal freedom to drive a car anywhere.
    Ofcourse, we all knew this all along, but it seems impossible to get a single line operational in Manila, how much more difficult to build a complete system??

    • 1) motorbikes would be doable if they had a certain safety. On present EDSA it isn’t safe, but on the loop it would be.

      2) bikes are used less in Southern Europe due to the heat. Philippines have the same challenge unless you provide for shade. Could be part of further measures after Joe’s quick solution which needs little ramp up time.

      3) trains are good but Filipinos suck at maintenance especially of somewhat complex systems. That’s why Joe goes for busses. Express busses are used in Europe too when one isn’t sure of the ROI of a tram or subway. Dedicated lanes are needed of course so they are fast enough. Ring lines are also common.

    • I’m a cyclist myself and, in an ideal world, Manila would be set up for bikes. But it is not practical now, as a mainstream policy, and would distract from the primary effort. But you raise the point of statistics, weighing which method will provide the most relief. I’ve gone with buses on the premise that with ‘forced busing’ each bus would take roughly 5 cars off the road. Ten buses, 50 cars. With 1,200 buses . . .

      Then there’d be room for bikes within the loop.

    • chemrock says:

      I was away from Singapore for a few years. When I returned afat a spell of 8 years, to my surprise the population of bicycles exploded. Many are taking to these, especially amongst the new population of young foreign workers.

      Bike sharing schemes had also come to town.Oko and others. One Chinese outfit has exited the market. For those who don’t know, bike sharing requires some GSP tracking system. You open an account, download a mobile app, pick up a bike anywhere on the roadside, scan the Q-code on a bike and it unlocks. Cycle anywhere and just leave it anywhere your journey ends. Scan with mobile to lock and time-price the usage. Your wallet auto-debited.

      All due respects, bike rental cannot be sustained in Philippines. All the bikes will simply disappear somewhere.

  9. Solution: Ramp up EJKs, Joe. That should alleviate traffic. j/k…

    Seriously, I think the Las Vegas model of pedestrian friendly walk-ways, masked as malls is perfect. Filipinos like air-con (AC here) and they like to shop and/or window shop. Why not connect every building by way of these mall walk-ways.

    For example , Mayor Isko is revamping the vendor experience in Manila, make them all connect so people can ideally walk across Manila, then connect to Makati, then farther and farther. No need for infrastructure, as in Vegas the two adjacent casinos benefit, thus they build the walk-way/mall as partners. Let the property owners build– and they will come.

    Just have ’em connect.

    In Vegas…

    Not all walk-way malls are created equal though, but it’s getting there. From Mandalay Bay to Luxor, it’s nice, feels like a regular mall. Park MGM to Aria just renovated is also real nice. There are gaps, and there are just straight walk-way looking overpasses with no shops, but I foresee more and more walk-way shops eventually.

    Manila can copy that.

    • I hiked one evening from Bellagio to Mandalay Bay. No way could that be mainstream in the heat of Manila. Hot. Crowded. Slow.

    • chemrock says:

      The elevated walkway in Makati is now 1.1km long. It connects Rufino-Salcedo to Greenbelt. Well utilised day and night. The shade is provides is great on hot afternoons. Keeps hundreds of thousands off the streets.

      • Joe, I’m not talking about side-walks here.

        chemp, that’s similar to what I’m talking about, but also not raised side-walks,

        I’m talking about building to building walkways, that have shops. In Vegas , designed initially as means to siphon people from sidewalk to casinos, then from casinos to casinos directly.

        here’s one connecting Mandalay bay to Luxor, vice-versa, outside and inside:

        With the way buildings are so close over there, yes it may be a fire hazard (sprinkler/alarm systems necessary), it shouldn’t cost too much, funded by the two buildings as means to connect then entice to walking and or shopping.

        chemp, are Makati elevated walkways directly connected to buildings??? what’s the shopping opportunity or just the walkability situation??? <<<

        My personally, I prefer parks to shopping, but also wholly understand the profit motive, hence the Vegas example.

        • I think Manila definitely needs more and better walking solutions. It is like biking though, secondary to the bus program outlined in the article. The reason nothing gets done well or fast here is the rat’s nest of special interests. Walking solutions are a good example. They can be considered as an adjunct to bus solutions, but not as a primary focus at the outset.

      • karlgarcia says:

        The Makati walkway has building to building access.

        • chemrock says:

          @ Lance

          Per Karl’s above.
          There is also another connector — Ayala MRT station – Glorietta malls- Landmark-Malls-Greenbelt.

          In Singapore, there are a lot of such connectivities. Eg Orchard MRT connects underground to several malls in the vicinity. City Hall MRT undergound connections to Marina complexes.

          The Manila metro underground project is a great opportunity for them to maximise underground connectivities to complexes of mass human activities. This will minimise a huge mass of MRT pax emerging from underground into the streets. However, I doubt very much these connectivities are in the project budget.

  10. Jerwin Dy says:

    Joe, keeping private vehicles from plying in Edsa will create more problems. As you’ve mentioned, they are the biggest number plying this road. Instead of limiting them all, why not limit certain types of private vehicles such as delivery vans etc and encourage the private sector to move their logistical requirements to non peak times? Maybe the government can give incentives or motivations for companies big and small to move also their supply chain requirements to not so holy hours.
    Another thing, bring back the strict implementation of the yellow/red box. This will ensure that no vehicle will be blocking the intersection at any given point in time which can help enforcers to divert traffic if needed.
    Lastly, put speed delimiters to edsa. I mean edsa is supposed to be a highway. It should move more vehicles than any other roads here. The only way to do that is to ban slow moving vehicles. Put a minimum speed and strictly enforce it. Slow moving vehicles not only contribute to traffic congestion but also a road hazard.

    • Some good ideas there, but it takes the project in a more complex direction. Your thinking is closer to what would probably be done, but I’ll stick with bold, simple, and shared transport on and within the loop. The next step would be calculators to work the numbers. We could compare yours vs mine, hypothetically. If traffic count numbers are available, that would help. Or even videos to assess the ‘content’ of edsa at different times of the day. I agree my idea needs a practicality/impacts check.

  11. NHerrera says:

    Thanks. Very useful blog and comments! If an expert group can get the best from these and other studies [UP, JICA?, etc.], there are the next imperatives: the budget, implementing steps and most importantly the will to do what is needed.

    If such traffic problem cannot be solved, how else do we solve other national problems? Meantime we have the GCTA item and other such items that come after it to occupy “Our Honorables.” Easier to investigate these than tackle the virtually unsolvable problem of the traffic mess.

    This leads me to ask: What has the Philippines done right lately we should be proud of? After all there was the promise of the President to solve the traffic mess within six months of being elected. Three years have gone by, or 6 times the period promised.

    Senator Lacson, I believe, said, in so many words: solve the traffic mess in NCR and such a one deserves to be President for Life.

    • My point in doing the blog is to illustrate that solutions are available, but they have to be bold. Push the private interests aside, of which drivers of private cars are one, and get people moving.

      • NHerrera says:

        Agree. Since the scheme as discussed is essentially non-political — in contrast to those that drive the Administration berserk — it is worthy of a persistent rallies such as what drove the Hong Kongers to the streets in an enough-is-enough fashion. So something is done with positive results..

  12. NHerrera says:

    From the blog article link, MMDA reports that:

    … since July, the average number of vehicles traversing EDSA has ranged from 386,000 to 402,000 per day. The average running speed of these vehicles was an incredibly slow 19.37kph

    The report already labels that average speed of 19.37kph as incredibly slow. It would have been more informative if the average speed in the 6am-10am and the 4pm-8pm traffic rush hours was also provided.

    My point: the road distance from the corner of EDSA – Ayala Ave to the corner of EDSA – Quezon Blvd is approximately 13 km from Google Map. If one takes the average speed of 19.37kph as basis, the time of travel is approximately 40 minutes — not bad as things go. But if one uses the average speed during the rush hours, the estimated time can be anywhere from two times to three times that from the anecdotal reports of motorists.

    The worst part, as noted in the link, is that the average July-August numbers do not include the “ber” months leading to the December traffic.

  13. Micha says:

    There are only 3 things to remember in solving the traffic problem in the Metro.
    1. Decongest
    2. Decongest
    3. And most important of all, decongest.


  14. karlgarcia says:

    Since decongest ion is mentioned.
    Luzon still has a chance by developing a Eastern Luzon without destroying Sierra Madre.
    The Imagination is already in place.

  15. willie says:

    In the early 70s, the heaviest of the traffic congestion was in the rizal avenue, sta cruz and quiapo areas.Lesser cars then, less Metro population. The the thinking then was the area will explode in 20 years when vehicles are assumed to double their numbers. But look now 40 years after, traffic is minimal in those areas. My point. Traffic in those areas correct itself because of multi lateral development in other parts of metro manila. so it is not traffic discipline, mode of transport, modern laws and road infrastructures, etc that will cure EDS traffic but a wise and prudent urban planning. It will take decades though.

    • Agree. Planning in the Philippines is called looking at today’s problem and concocting a quick and hopefully enriching fix.

      • NHerrera says:

        I like that:

        No wonder, from a country thought to have great potential circa 1945, [practically] all the newbie countries have passed us by — no thanks to the “tons” of debating/ quibbling lawyers we produce yearly.

    • NHerrera says:

      Right. Most smart countries have continuous analyses of facts and trends with which to plan for the needs in the short, medium and long-terms — realistically weighing the emphasis to be placed on the three. Is the Philippines focused in the short-term mainly because the new leadership disregards the best ideas of the previous ones? Inventing the wheel over and over again?

  16. Pablo says:

    A complementary summary describing that traffic congestion can be a blessing in disguise, forcing you to re-think on how to plan your city
    But only for those willing (and capable) of listening.

  17. karlgarcia says:

    The Mayor of Pontevedra who banned cars has the last name Lores.

  18. Here’s a nice article about the subject. Free bus rides = reduced cars.

  19. madlanglupa says:

    I have to point out that the notorious numbering code scheme aka odd-even was supposed to be a temporary measure intended for study but for some dumb reason it was left on and became permanent. As a result, according to a Redditor I know of, people bought not one but more vehicles with different license plates per household if only to skirt around odd-even.

    On a sidenote, the plucky gecko.

  20. NHerrera says:


    If I have to interpret DOTr’s Master Plan to solve the Metro Manila Transport Traffic — with the indulgence of TSH for the current blog topic and the associated sensible recommendations and comments — it is the granting of Emergency Powers to the President.

    • Number 9, ‘storage’, is a huge problem here as secondary usages block primary. Also poor signage is an issue.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Duterte could not just declare to reclaim the streets from street parkers even if intentions are valid.

        road widening removed parking slots, sidewalks, etc

        many jeepneys, trucks, park on streets during number coding.

  21. karlgarcia says:

    From Inquirer

    Braess’ Paradox

    Most metropolitan areas react to congestion by adding more highways, more road lanes or extending road networks into farther areas.

    This, however, has mixed results: adding more roads to an already congested network can result in more congestion and longer travel times, a phenomenon known as Braess’ Paradox. The paradox is also more humorously captured by Lewis Mumford when he said, “Adding car lanes to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

    • NHerrera says:


      Thanks for the link. From a medium to long-term view, Joel Luna’s “A primer on urban mobility” makes a lot of sense [the article is only first of a series and projects coming articles in the series].

      I convinced myself of the soundness of Luna’s statements by imagining two cities:

      – City A, rectangularly shaped, measuring 1 km by 10 km or an area of 10 square kilometers; and

      – City B, circularly shaped with a radius of 1.784km, with a total area of 10 sq kms, same as City A.

      There is no question that City A will suffer immensely from future transport traffic mess and associated economic development, assuming the same population growth and resources potential for economic development.

  22. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    The economist and former NEDA Chief, Cielito Habito, has this to say, among others, on what he considers — and I believe, we should too — a worrisome slide:

    There are no ifs and buts about it: The news on overall investment in the country isn’t good. For the first time in 30 quarters (seven and a half years), fixed capital formation in our economy actually fell, registering -8.5 percent growth in the second quarter of this year. The term refers to total real investment, whether domestic or foreign, public or private—i.e., the kind that creates jobs, and not those that simply make money grow out of speculative market forces in the bond or stock markets (called portfolio investments).

    The US-China trade war appears to be boosting investments in our neighbors, with Vietnam seemingly attracting most of the firms moving to avoid the high import tariffs the United States has slapped on products from China. Despite all the talk that we could lure similar “refugee investments” from China, our falling FDI numbers suggest that this has largely been wishful thinking. Clearly, there’s something our neighbors have that we don’t, and I’m sure we all have our own favorite theories on what these are, so I won’t even bother to go into that here.

    Could private domestic investment save the day? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Private construction activity did surge by 23.1 percent in the second quarter, against a relatively lame (yet still brisk) 9.1 percent growth a year ago. Many attribute this surge in private construction activity to the rapid growth of the Pogo (Philippine offshore gaming operators—aka online gambling) industry that has boosted real estate demand for both office and residential space. The latter is for its estimated hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly Chinese of questionable immigration status. And because the industry caters to an activity that is illegal in mainland China where its market lies, recent rhetoric and action from Beijing suggest that the boom in the sector may soon go bust. Thus, along with calls to begin planning for a post-BPO (business process outsourcing) era in the face of the onslaught of artificial intelligence, we would do well to plan for the post-Pogo scenario as well.

    Meanwhile, investment in durable equipment, likely dominated by private investments in production machinery, also slid rather steeply (-13 percent) in the second quarter, adding more bad investment news.

    Investment today builds our capacity to grow even more tomorrow. That’s why it’s urgent that we arrest the decline now.

  23. karlgarcia says:

    As expected Metro Manila is the most congested city in developing Asia.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I have been insisting on the Eastern Luzon.
      It seems that my wish may soon come true
      DTI-DPWH convergence project in Aurora starts

    • Some notes from Munich at the moment..

      • 1) there are already discussions on how to deal with the projected growth of the city.

        a) There is a free area in the Northeast that is being discussed as a site for a new city quarter with all amenities: doctor’s offices, kindergarten, elementary school, pharmacies, food stores, playgrounds, and of course a good mix of apartments (1/3 for social welfare recipients in the so-called Munich model which is geared to prevent ghettos) and offices. Of course the future connection to public transport is part of the debate.

        b) There are groups (a mix of Greens and conservatives) who want to stop all growth, prevent the city from giving new incentives for businesses, concentrate on quality of life for those already here – and not “those who will come to Munich in the future”.

        2) This reminds me a bit of the 2004 debate on tall buildings and the subsequent referendum.

        a) It did halt a bit the modernization of Munich’s silhouette, though buildings under 99 meters that are relatively tall and modern have cropped up in many quarters. And since the validity of the decision lapsed in 2014, nobody has gone against the 99 meter limit, but there is a planned building that soon will – and in fact this time they have thought of a modern building that fits into the landscape and the city.

        b) there was a citizen’s initiative by the Greens to limit use of lands for building new city quarters both commercial and residential that was rejected by the Bavarian Supreme Court for being “unspecific”. The idea is similar, however to what the groups in 1b) want.

        – fortunately Munich is still FAR from the cyberpunk sci-fi horror picture of Metro Manila, and it is indeed smart to think of the future in terms of sustainability from both progressive and conservative angles, PROACTIVELY managing growth in all directions is the word.


          3a) there are debates on whether the huge project for the new suburban train trunk line – which will go until 2028 – is enough for future needs. There are already those saying that other needs were neglected for a prestige projects, such as North and South ring lines.

          3b) there is discussion on the reliability of the suburban train line. It is also a bit politicized as it is run by the State of Bavaria (Christian Democrats) while the city government is very much Social Democrat. One must also see that the S-Bahn is:

          3b)-i) far larger in scope (think of a radius of 50 km around entire Munich) and in some places shares rails with regional and national train lines, so a delay in one place propagates itself .. and..

          3b)-ii) has more overground lines prone to weather influences. The city has only the underground lines and the few overground stations they have can disrupt the system. Autumn leaves, winter ice, storms that blow tree branches on the electrical lines..

          3b)-iii) sure, German railways has built dedicated lines in some areas. The S4/S6 lines are an example, they used to share rails with the Salzburg/Vienna/Zagreb international lines. But it took years, including mandatory anti-noise walls to protect residents – I saw it.

          3c) reliabilty is also a question when it comes to the suburban train line. Now that the municipal underground train has solved MOST of its issues with the new wagons that had electrical issues – and the old wagons from 1972 can be phased out, slowly..

          3c)-i) again, the issue is about a larger network to maintain. They have solved massive issues with the old trunk line from 1972 way back in the 2000s, when stations started to burn due to electrical issues. They have modernized major stations once more this year, but of course they had to close the trunk line on weekends to do that, during the summer vacation to minimize impact, but still everybody complained about the (planned) outage.

          3c)-ii) neuralgic points can disrupt the network totally. A problem at a junction point cause all train lines (suburban and regional) to the airport to fail this Friday. The issue was fixed until Friday afternoon, but of course people coming home and leaving were affected.

          3c)-iii) For the first time in history (?) a suburban train was so full it had to continue without taking passengers. This is because German Railways lacks trains and personnel to run trains every 10 minutes into Munich during rush hours on a certain line. Predictably, the same number of people trying to take the same trains but only coming every 20 minutes squeezed the people into one train (which can take around a thousand people standing if it is a full-length 3 sets of three wagons each train) and the limit was reached. The issues MRT3 has every day to the extent of people lining up into the streets have caused the Prime Minister of Bavaria to threaten to sue German railways for damages.

          *what one sees is that the issues are similar, even if they are smaller over here. But finally people USED to a certain service being there are frustrated when it doesn’t work. Remember the last Facebook outage some weeks ago? It gets even more serious if it involves daily life like getting to work. In a culture more aware of the economic value of time and used to efficient service, waiting an hour to get a train leaving the airport is NOT a joke. The 3-4 hour commute times of Manila? I can be in Berlin in 4 hours, or in Bonn.

          **but keeping systems like these running is not a joke. Those of us from the IT area will know what it takes to keep any kind of computing system running, including safeguards. Most laymen will not know, or care, as they see all of it just as a service.

          • Also in discussion: to be careful to not overbuild in areas that lie along Munich’s oxygen highway to the Alps. Especially in summer hot air moves up via that path and comes down as cool air in the evening.

            Keeping polders of unbuilt land along the Isar river is also a constant topic as such lands can flood and absorb excess water.

            • Fortunately the parks built north and south of town in the 18th and 19th centuries to ostensibly drive out “miasma” that were believed to cause disease have stayed. Cities have to be seen as a whole and not just tinkered on.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thanks for the notes.

  24. Lino Sison says:

    The day after Aquino was elected president in 2010, I wrote that his first executive order should be “Alternate Merge!”

  25. Joost Evers says:

    Tram-busses along the loop in a metro-style operation (e.g. ) and combined with gated stops as at many metros to increase efficiency and comfort.

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