Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Trains to Alabang; New bus scheme eyed on C-5

Jeremiah de Guzman and Rio N. Araja
Manila Standard

Philippine National Railways commuter service up to Alabang kicks off today to complete phase one of the NorthRail-SouthRail Linkage while C-5 gears up for the bus rapid transport to avoid the pitfalls of Edsa.

In an interview, general manager Manuel Andal said trips would cover the stretch from Tutuban in Tondo, Manila to Parañaque City.

“We’ll start our operation up to Alabang with 36 trains a day or 18 trains back and forth,” he said, noting that six sets of trains or 18 coaches will be fielded.

The first trains leave Tutuban and Alabang simultaneously 6 a.m.; the last trains leave their respective terminals at 7 p.m. daily.

Executive director Angelito Vergel de Dios, of the Metro Manila Development Authority, said the 19.7-kilometer C-5 road would make use of lessons learned from the Organized Bus Route Scheme of Edsa and its different bus firms competing for riders.

“We will be conducting a feasibility study to determine the viability of a bus rapid transit,” he said.

Then Chairman Bayani Fernando visited Latin America to observe the BRT system, which involved non-reliance on commissions as basis for setting the take-home pay of drivers and conductors.

The model has inner lanes devoted to the BRT with both outer lanes used by regular traffic.

“We have to regulate C-5,” De Dios said, calling for MMDA’s control of the circumferential route that joins the Coastal Road road to Cavite, along with South Luzon and North Luzon expressways.

He said Edsa gridlock was mainly due to the clutter of 90 bus operators doing business on limited space.

The $50-million initial NorthRail-SouthRail phase was bankrolled by Korean Export-Import Bank.

In March last year, 39th National Economic Development Authority Board confirmed the Investment Coordination Committee’s approval of a supplemental loan of $15 million or P645 million for the project.

The 34-km linkage’s delivery in November 2009 was delayed given a completion of around 90 percent at the time.

“Phase II of the Linkage Project is still pending with the [National Economic and Development Authority] Board,” Andal said.

At least $80.23 million would be needed for the rehabilitation and double tracking of the 27-km Alabang to Calamba of the PNR South Commuter Line along with the purchase of five train sets of three coaches each.

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