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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

NCR’s daily grind: Long commutes, limited space

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PH capital ranks 60th in urban mobility

Commuters in Metro Manila face a daily struggle, enduring long travel times inside crowded buses and jeepneys amid heavy traffic and a lack of dedicated space for walking.

These struggles are reflected in the 2023 Urban Mobility Readiness Index (UMRI) by think tank Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California, Berkeley.’

Manila ranked 60th in “urban mobility readiness” among 65 cities studied around the world with the worst public transit systems.

Despite the low ranking, Manila improved by two spots compared to the 2022 UMRI. However, the gap remains significant.

The report places Manila at the bottom compared to its Asian Pacific neighbors, with Singapore ranking 6th, Seoul (13th), Hong Kong (15th), Tokyo (16th), Sydney (22nd), Melbourne (29th), Beijing (30th), Shanghai (32nd), Kuala Lumpur (42nd), Bangkok (45th), Jakarta, (49th), Delhi (54th) and Mumbai (55th).

Globally, Helsinski ranked first in urban mobility readiness, followed by Amsterdam, Stockholm, San Francisco, Munich, Singapore, Zurich, Paris, Copenhagen and Berlin.

The Philippine capital also ranked 60th for public transport and 51st for sustainable mobility.

The UMR Index uses five basic dimensions to rank the cities―infrastructure, social impact, market attractiveness, systems efficiency and innovation.

The report said that despite low car ownership levels, Manila has not invested in active mobility infrastructure such as bike lanes and car—free zones.

The Department of Transportation earlier set a target of building over 1,840 kilometers (1,100 miles) of protected bike lanes by 2028.

“Manila has a low density of public transit stations, a limited rail network and an under maintained road network,” it said.

“In recent years, however, the city has made progress by introducing a new generation of light rail trains, extending the light rail network to accommodate more passengers and shorten travel times, starting work on the Metro Manila Subway Project, with completion targeted for 2027,” the report added.

It also said that riders of Manila’s bus service often struggle with long commutes due to low transit speeds.

“To help improve service, the city can build dedicated bus lanes to avoid traffic slowdowns. During the pandemic, the government converted a section of one of the city’s busiest highways, Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, into a dedicated busway,” the report said

“ In the long term, Manila can continue to invest in building more underground lines to increase the reach and efficiency of its rapid transit network,” it added.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the DOTr is focusing on creating safe spaces for cyclists and pedestrians as it pushes for cycling and walking as well as the use of non-motorized transport as efficient and sustainable modes of mobility, and key solutions to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila and its adjacent areas.

“As DOTr seeks to solve the problem of traffic, it is designating and reclaiming road space to provide safe infrastructure for more efficient and sustainable modes of transport such as bike lanes and walkways,”Bautista said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently announced that the national government would prioritize active transport by creating facilities such as “safe walkways and secured bike lanes to promote healthier and more sustainable modes of travel.”

Active transport, according to the DOTr, is in line with the National Transport Policy (NTP) and the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 (PDP).

Under the initiatives of the NTP and PDP, pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles are being accorded the highest priority in the hierarchy of road users. It also mandates the government to prioritize the development of active transport infrastructure.

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