By Aerol B. Patena
MANILA, Feb 15 (PNA) — The worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila continues to usher in so much inconvenience to many people who usually arrive late in their offices or schools.
Scenes of people forming long lines to get on board various mass transport systems such as buses, jeepneys, taxicabs, LRT and MRT has been a familiar sight in the metropolis over the years.
The government has been actively pushing for alternative modes of transportation to decongest traffic and alleviate the plight of motorists and commuters.
Thus, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has developed a prototype automated guideway transit (AGT) system to address the pressing concern on traffic congestion and provide a viable answer to the serious threats to health and environment caused by the high pollutants emitted by the transport sector.
The initiative was undertaken by the DOST’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) in partnership with the University of the Philippines, and with funding from the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).
“The AGT seeks to provide a cheaper and greener alternative transport system in the country,” DOST Assistant Secretary and Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) Officer-in Charge director Robert Dizon said in an interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA).
The electrically powered train (EPT) runs at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour and is composed of two coaches that can accommodate 30 passengers each. It runs on rubber tires producing less noise and has a slimmer design, thus, allowing it to be built on narrow busy streets.
The EPT is also environmental friendly because of its zero greenhouse gas emission.
A 465-meter concrete guideway with a 25-meter radius curve in the middle is built inside the UP-Diliman Campus to serve as a test site to fine-tune the train’s speed, power, controls, and stress systems.
According to Dizon, the AGT is undergoing further improvements that will ensure that it will operate efficiently.
“People must be aware that research and development is a very tedious process. Nevertheless, we assure them that we are really working hard to further develop the AGT system as a reliable mode of transportation,” he said.
A public demonstration of the AGT was held in December last year attended by DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Caesar Saloma and representatives from the MIRDC.
The demo likewise served as simulation of the use of the AGT ticketing system. Guests in the event were given passenger cards and were asked to pass through the turnstyle before they can board the train which is similar to what happens in the LRT and MRT.
The demonstration provided an opportunity to present the locally-designed and developed mass transit system which is proceeding apace.
Simulated operations of the system are expected to start by March this year.
The DOST will submit a report to the UP Diliman officials by the middle of the year to determine whether the AGT is feasible as a transit system.
The project would be expanded into a 6.9-kilometre (4.3 mi) track that will loop the campus if it is found to be feasible. The route will include stops not covered by jeepneys plying the UP campus. A total of thirteen stations are included in the proposed plan.
The UP National Center for Transportation Studies is conducting pre-feasibility study which is funded by the DOST to determine concerns such as installing additional stations in the AGT, its operating costs and the roll out of the system on major thoroughfares.
“We intend the AGT to link up and complement existing mass transport system such as the LRT and MRT,” Dizon said.
“Thus, people from the provinces can board the AGT on their way to work or school and then ride the LRT or MRT. This would greatly help in lessening the vehicular congestion in Metro Manila,” he added. (PNA)