DOTr touts key mass, active transport projects

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

February 4, 2021, 4:00 pm

<p><strong>TUNNEL BORING MACHINE</strong>. A scale model of a tunnel boring machine. Among the projects of the DOTr in the railway sector include the Metro Manila Subway, with the 74-ton cutter head of the tunnel boring machine “Kaunlaran” set to be unveiled Friday (Feb. 5, 2021). <em>(File photo)</em></p>

TUNNEL BORING MACHINE. A scale model of a tunnel boring machine. Among the projects of the DOTr in the railway sector include the Metro Manila Subway, with the 74-ton cutter head of the tunnel boring machine “Kaunlaran” set to be unveiled Friday (Feb. 5, 2021). (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday showcased its projects, most of which are in the railway sector, that would soon provide commuters with better mass and active transport infrastructures.

“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,” the DOTr said in a statement, in response to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed nine out of 10 Filipinos want public and active transport to be the priority on roads.

Among the projects include the Metro Manila Subway, with the 74-ton cutter head of the Tunnel Boring Machine “Kaunlaran” set to be unveiled Friday; the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) Extension from Metro Manila to Cavite; the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) East Extension from Santolan to Masinag to be completed April; the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos) set for partial operations by the fourth quarter of 2021; the Common Station which is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021; the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) set for partial operation also by the fourth quarter of 2021 and full completion by 2022; and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) rehabilitation which is expected to be completed by July this year.

READ: 25 tunnel boring machines to be used on Metro Manila Subway

“We have also pushed for the acquisition of new train sets for the MRT-3, LRT-1, and PNR lines to increase their respective capacities, among others,” the DOTr said.

For the LRT-1 Cavite Extension, four 4th generation light rail vehicles out of 120 have recently arrived in the country; three new Diesel Hydraulic Locomotives and fifteen-passenger coaches have also arrived to be used by the PNR; while the contract for the rolling stock or trains of the Metro Manila Subway has been signed last December.

“Through these, the DOTr is putting in place mass public transportation as the principal means for mobility to reduce dependence on private vehicles,” the DOTr said.

In the road sector, its Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program (PUVMP) seeks to “ensure order, efficiency, safety, and protection of the environment through clean fuel use” in PUVs.

“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 fewer vehicles,” the DOTr said.

Other projects include the Service Contracting Program that aims to help ease the loss of income of PUV drivers and operators during the Covid-19 pandemic through performance incentives and by “fully developing” the Edsa Busway “in accordance with local standards.”

Active transport

Aside from mass transportation projects, it highlighted infrastructure projects meant to promote cycling and walking in urban centers and help lessen the public’s reliance on motorized transport.

To date, it 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,” the DOTr said.

In Metro Manila, it touted the Bike Sharing program—currently operational through 31 bicycle sharing stations in the metropolis as of February.

To encourage walking and ease the experience of pedestrians, its EDSA Greenways Project aims to establish “greenways” or walkable nodes at different railway stations in Metro Manila.

“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,” the DOTr said.

To address the complaints and ensure the safety of passengers of the Edsa Busway, the DOTr is eyeing the implementation of the Edsa Busway Bridge with concourse project.

Outside Metro Manila, the DOTr is focusing on the establishment of bus systems.

In Cebu, it is pushing for the partial operability of one of the segments of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (Cebu BRT) within 2021 after DOTr Secretary Arthur 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,” the DOTr said.

In Davao, it is hoping to implement a modern high priority bus system called the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project.

“We are likewise targeting its partial operations this year as the parcellary works are currently ongoing following the awarding of its contract,” it said.

In an SWS survey conducted from Nov. 21 to 25, 2020 and sponsored by the Department of Health, 87 percent of Filipino adults agreed that “the roads in Philippine cities and municipalities will be better off if public transportation, bicycles, and pedestrians are given priority over private vehicles.”

It also found that 85 percent of respondents agreed that it is possible for their city or municipality to become a great place for walking and cycling. (PNA)