Various transportation projects implemented this year by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), especially those under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration, have been aimed at easing the growing land traffic problems in the country and bettering conditions faced by commuters. The programs include the construction of vital infrastructures that would improve connectivity between Metro Manila and other areas of the country, decongest the capital and promote nationwide economic growth.
Another such project is the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX). The country’s first ‘land port’ was inaugurated by the agency on November 5. The integrated and multi-modal terminal serves the southwestern part of Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces, offering a more elegant solution to southbound travel versus the previous system of provincial bus terminals lining EDSA. The facility, located along Coastal Road, simultaneously serves as a transport point for provincial buses servicing Cavite and Batangas, provides docking for in-city modes of transportation, and provides interconnectivity between different transportation modes to cater to the needs of every commuter.
“So, I am impressed, I am proud na ginawa nila itong magandang (that they built this beautiful) structure. And it will serve the Filipino and that is what’s very important to me,” President Rodrigo Duterte said of the project during its inauguration rites earlier last month.
“As the first integrated and multi-modal terminal in the southwestern part of Metro Manila, PITX is a landmark project — a ‘landport’ that feels and functions like an airport,” he added.
PITX boasts automated ticketing and bus monitoring systems, as well as multiple terminals meant for city buses, jeepneys, UV expresses, taxis, and transport network services.
The groundbreaking of the Taguig Integrated Terminal Exchange (ITX) was also done this year, in January. The project is expected to accommodate as much as 4,000 buses and 160,000 passengers per day. It will likewise be integrated by walkways into other DOTr projects such as the nearby PNR FTI station and the propose Mega Manila subway system.
Besides these two terminals, the DOTr is eyeing the construction of a North Integrated Terminal Exchange in Bocaue, Bulacan. This would serve as the major Northern stop for buses coming to or from provinces to the northern part of Metro Manila.
Within Metro Manila, the transport agency has achieved the signing of a PHP-18-billion loan agreement between the Philippines and Japan for the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3). The line plies EDSA, one of the major thoroughfares in the metro, and is notorious among commuters for breaking down or being overcrowded.
The loan agreement covers the repair and maintainance of the MRT-3’s electromechanical components, power supply, rail tracks, as well as the overhaul of its 72 light rail vehicles, of which only a fraction are currently operational. The rehabilitation will be done by Japanese firm Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. They will also be taking over the maintenance of the line. The consortium signed and built the MRT-3 from 1998-2000 and maintained the system from the years 2000-2012.
“Transition is already ongoing up to December; the full mobilization will be by January,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in an earlier interview to the PNA.
The upgrading of the MRT-3 line is estimated to take about 43 months, with the first 26 focused chiefly on rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the DOTr has also facilitated the deployment of an initial set of new train cars purchased from Chinese firm CRRC Dalian.
Three cars were deployed last October, while another train set was deployed this month. A total of 48 Dalian light rail vehicles were purchased and delivered to the Philippines in 2016, however their deployment was delayed due to compatibility issues. The train’s supplier, CRRC Dalian, eventually agreed to absorb the costs of adjusting the trains to work with the existing MRT-3 system.
To address the growing issue of traffic in Metro Cebu, the DOTr is pushing for the implementation of an integrated transport system (ITS) in the area. This would include a bus rapid transport system, point-to-point bus services, construction of a monorail in Lapu-Lapu City, and a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system traversing Carcar to Danao and the Mandaue to Airport Line.
“The ITS was developed after due consideration of Metro Cebu’s road profile, and the fast-growing need of efficient mass transport systems in bigger, interconnected cities. Habang papaunlad ang ating mga lungsod ay kailangan din nating tugunan ang pangangailangan para sa mas episyente na pampublikong transportasyon (As our cities progress, we need to address the need for an efficient public transportation),” said Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade.
The DOTr has also been pushing for the development of regional airports, as a means to decongest the Metro and NAIA, which services a record 42 million passengers. This is far exceeding its supposed capacity of just 31 million passengers.
Clark International Airport, located just outside of Metro Manila, is being eyes as an alternative gateway into and out of the country.