UP monorail system aims to address traffic problems

Voltaire Tupaz
The country's first monorail system is being developed by the University of the Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology. The project aims to ease traffic congestion, a big problem in urban centers.

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s first monorail system is being developed by the University of the Philippines.

The project aims to ease traffic congestion, a big problem in urban centers.

Voltaire Tupaz reports.

The two coaches of the first homegrown monorail in the Philippines are already up on the track. This December, their stability, brake distance, and power will be tested along a track built inside the UP Diliman Campus.

The construction of the test track of the first monorail system in the country is ongoing here in UP Diliman. It stands at an elevation of about 6 meters, and stretches from CP Garcia to Jacinto St near the College of Fine Arts, about 500 meters long.

A collaboration between the state university and the Department of Science and Technology developers hope it will jumpstart the development of the country’s stagnated railway system.

DR ELVIRA ZAMORA, UP SYSTEM VP FOR DEV’T: It is also one of the key projects of the PNoy administration. The objective is to develop and deploy a technology for mass transport that will be efficient and at the same time save money for the country.

Traffic congestion is a big problem in urban centers. More than 900,000 passenger cars are registered nationwide. Everyday, over 23,000 buses, 36,000 taxis, and 217,000 jeepneys provide public transport services to Filipinos, 80% of whom commute to work, school and other destinations. 

These congest roads– the most dense in Southeast Asia except Singapore.Traffic costs the country 2% of the GDP in lost opportunities.

But will the monorail address the worsening traffic problem?

DR. REGIN REGIDOR, NAT’L CENTER FOR TRANSPORTATION STUDIES: The capacity will not be the same as the EDSA MRT or the LRT2 – the country’s existing systems – because these systems have relatively big capacities. So there’s a limitation. The question is, “Where should it be placed?” Definitely it has a similar or better capacity than our regular buses. So it should have better capacities than the jeepneys if it’s implemented as a mode of public transportation.

But Regidor says the monorail may be the answer to problems in specific locations.

DR. REGIN REGIDOR: We can be hopeful, but we have to temper our expectations because we might be expecting that the system will be  like Japan’s bullet train. No, it’s not. That would be too much. But if we are able to fix this system, it will really be feasible for airports and CBDs (Central Business Districts) .

The monorail is just a prototype for research. If it works, it will be a major step towards an effective mass transit system.

Voltaire Tupaz, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com