Can the monorail help solve traffic in the city?

By Monico D. Mekaniko

TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA –There have been many attempts at solving the worsening traffic in Metro Manila from widening roads, adding new service roads, rerouting traffic, and putting more U-turns, among others.

One of the more recent attempts in solving the problem is building a monorail. Smaller than the more widely used electric trains like the MRT and LRT lines, monorails run on a single rail and travel in shorter distances, usually from within a few city blocks. Because of their small size, they also carry fewer people.

However, the relatively small size of a monorail makes it easier to build and is more effective in places with lots of human traffic. Many European and Asian cities have implemented monorails as a means to transport people within several city blocks. These are also a choice for city dwellers instead of driving their cars of taking cabs.

Last year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the University of the Philippines, Diliman embarked on building the first fully functional “people mover” monorail within the Diliman campus. The contract to build the DOST’s Automated Transit System (AGT) was also recently given to Miescor Builders, who will build the 465-meter elevated test track running along C.P. Garcia all the way to the UP College of Fine Arts.

The AGT, which would cost P22 million to build, can carry up to 60 people and will run up to 60 kilometers per hour. In comparison, the MRT and LRT trains can carry up to 60 per car (up to 120 for three connected cars) and can go up to 60 kph.

The effectiveness of a monorail system varies. For one, these are easier to build as they only require smaller footprint to put up the vertical beams that hold up the trains. This also makes them cheaper to build and maintained.

One of the major concerns of city dwellers is that they would have to ride a public transport vehicle such as cab or a jeep, or driver their cars just to get to a few blocks from their current locations. This would also mean driving through traffic. Cities with huge central business districts like Makati, Pasig, and Mandaluyong have traffic problems during work hours. City dwellers are forced to leave very early just to get to their destination. The time it takes to get from one point to another is already considered a loss in productivity.

In previous interviews, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said that a monorail system can be applied in the Philippines where public transportation has itself become a problem. He said that the monorail cannot replace the MRT and LRT. Instead, the monorail could serve as a “feeder” transport for people who need to take the MRT and LRT if they are coming from a peripheral location outside their stations.

While the DOST’s project is under development, the government is also mulling over the construction of a monorail system that would connect the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to the LRT, MRT, and Philippine National Railways (PNR). Under the proposal, the train would start at the MRT-3 Guadalupe station, passes Taguig’s Bonifacio Global City, and end at the NAIA-3 terminal.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which will oversee its construction, will start with a feasibility study for the monorail system. BCDA is being supported by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Transportation, and Industry (METI), which would fund the study.

Already, the interest in using monorails is increasing.

Till next time, this is Monico D. Mekaniko, Va-va-vroom!

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