Liveable cities

Published on June 2, 2020

As Metro Manila goes into General Community Quarantine starting June 1, the key question will be “will there be enough transportation or mobility options”? As people return to work, will there be enough public transport?

Granted while not everybody will be returning to work – only certain industries and essential services will be allowed to re-start – the answer will nonetheless be No.

Assuming you don’t drive to work in your own car or motorcycle or you live within bicycling and walking distance to work, how long will wait times be? How long will a trip take? How long will each passenger be exposed to risk? We will find out tomorrow.

The public transport options will be extremely limited under GCQ.

LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3, and PNR will run but will be limited to 10% to 20% of their capacity. Some buses will run to augment Rail along their routes but will carry only 50% of their normal seating capacity. The rest of the buses will only be allowed to run after June 22. Taxis and ride-hailing services (Grab) will be allowed to run as will tricycles, but all with reduced numbers of passengers. Jeepneys and UV expresses will not be allowed back until after June 22. Motorcycle taxis (Angkas) will not be allowed under GCQ.

The quick back-of-the-envelope calculation of total capacity for Taxis, Ride-Hail Cars (Grab), Buses, and Tricycles for June 1-22 is 1.3 million passengers, one-way. LRT’s 1 and 2, MRT-3, and PNR will add approximately 63,300 seats, per way, as their capacity will be limited to 10% to 20% of normal loads.

After June 22, when you add Jeepneys and UV Expresses to Taxis, Ride-Hail Cars, Buses, and Tricycles, LRT1, LRT2, MRT3, and PNR, the public transit capacity will grow to just under 3.3 million passengers per-way.

Contrast that with the 7.3 million passengers, per way, which the public transit system can carry on EDSA and major Radial and Circumferential Roads in the pre-COVID period, including LRTs 1 and 2, MRT-3, and PNR. The rest of the people ride private vehicles like cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and e-scooters, or walk.

Hopefully, this challenge will force us to re-think and re-imagine our mass transit system. Another subject for another time. In the meantime, get ready for the mass transit challenge.

GCQ will open up some businesses but getting workers and customers to come in remains to be seen.



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