Stopping Speeding

Not a week goes by without a vehicle crashing onto concrete barriers on EDSA. Buses, cars, vans, motorcycles. The barriers are blamed. But video and totalled vehicles show drivers were mostly speeding.

Not a day or night passes without reports of hits-and-runs, t-bone collisions at intersections, pedestrians sideswiped or, worse, run over. Head-on collisions of cars and motorcycles on switchbacks like the infamous Marilaque Highway — again the most likely cause is speeding. Drivers or riders all driving beyond speed limits and their skill levels.

So the week-long Facebook forum on efforts made to increase the level of speed enforcement in the country should prove timely.

The forum was organized by Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Office (LTO), together with non-profit organizations ImagineLaw, the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

One of the highlights of the forum was the presentation of the progress report, entitled “Safer Speeds Now: Saving Lives through Speed Enforcement,” on the undertaking to institutionalize enforcement operations based on speed management practices learned from past trainings-of-trainers.

During the forum LTO Law Enforcement Service Director Clarence Guinto said: “In the coming months, we will make every effort to increase speed limit enforcement in the Philippines by procuring speed guns, deputizing more enforcers, continuing the training-of-trainers program, and develop a speed enforcement action plan in collaboration with relevant government agencies.”

Since October 2019, more than 150 law enforcement officers from the LTO, Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and local government units (LGUs) participated in national and pilot regional speed enforcement trainings conducted by GRSP experts Robert Susanj and Mark Stables.

ImagineLaw and GRSP have turned-over a speed enforcement package and instructional video to guide local law enforcement officers in enforcing safer speed limits in the Philippines beyond the end of the project.

At the end of the event, DOTr Asistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor said: “The DOTr, along with its local and international partners will continue the grind until all levels of our society have the capacity to implement the good laws and policies on road safety. Most importantly, we will strive to invest in the needed technologies and tools to make a maximum road safety environment in the country.”

It is sad that the Facebook forum on the need to strengthen enforcement of speed limits did not receive as wide a coverage as it deserves in traditional media or shared and commented on in social media.

But we will hold our DOTr officials to their word about investing in training, equipment, and tools to improve road safety.

MRT-3 speeds up

Speeding is bad but the MRT-3 speeding up is good. MRT-3 management announced that its trains can now safely run up to 40 kilometers per hour beginning this month, up from the 30 kph it has been forced to run owing to poor track conditions.

This should be good news for commuters as this would lead to shorter waiting times at stations. This is in addition to MRT-3 now running at most 22 train sets daily.

The higher speed is a result of the replacement of old tracks as part of the MRT-3 rehabilation being undertaken by maintenance provider Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

The MRT-3 said trains will be running at 50kph in November and 60kph by December.

“Even during the implementation of  strict community quarantine levels, with the approval of the IATF, we continued with the massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3, which includes replacing all worn out rails with new ones. Our commuters have suffered enough from the past. It is only right that we give them back their dignity in commuting using the MRT-3,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a press statement.

BEEP no more?

The Department of Transportation has decided to suspend implementation of mandatory use of Beep cards for payment of rides on the EDSA Busway.

Instead, a dual payment system will be implemented. Beep cards will still be used. But those who don’t have Beep cards can pay for rides at booths to be manned by EDSA Bus Consortia personnel at loading and unloading stations.

These personnel will be wearing appropriate face shields, face masks, and gloves to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Explaining the decision, the DOTr said: We are saddened by the refusal of AF Payments, Inc., the provider of the automatic fare collection system (AFCS) at the EDSA Busway, to waive the cost of the beep card despite consistent pleas made by the government. This would have made a big difference to the commuters, mostly daily wage earners who are the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The EDSA Bus Consortia said it will look for another AFCS provider who can offer a better solution to the existing problem.

Entry-level Benz

An entry-level SUV from Mercedes-Benz is now available in-country.

The new GLA is a compact SUV that carries the Benz signature SUV design as well as trailblazing technologies that define today’s modern luxury in personal mobility.

Available in the country is the  GLA 200 AMG Line which “comes with a diamond radiator grille with pins in chrome, 19inch 5 twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, black roof liner and polished aluminium roof rails,” a press statement said.

It is powered by turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine produces 163hp and 250Nm of torque which drives the front wheel via a 7G dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The GLA is equipped with MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system which comes with a 7-inch instrument and media display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibiity.

AC Motors lineup

Congratulations to Antonio “Toti” Zara III who has been appointed president of the automotive business unit of AC Industrials, Ayala Corporation’s wholly-owned industrial technologies arm and direct parent of the group’s vehicle distribution and retail dealerships division, AC Motors.

Zara’s appointment is part of a reorganization that will see AC Motors morph into two distinctive business units — automotive and motorcycle — to allow the group to capitalize on the unique growth opportunities in each sector, a press statement said.

Under Zara, the automotive business unit oversees the distributorships of Kia, Volkswagen, and Maxus, as well as the dealerships for the Honda, Isuzu, Kia, Volkswagen, and Maxus brands, it said.

AC Industrials Chairman and CEO Arthur Tan will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of the various companies under the AC Motors’ umbrella.

Manny Aligada will continue to serve as president of the Kia distributorship under the KP Motors Corporation, while Felipe Estrella will continue as president of Automobile Central Enterprise which oversees the Volkswagen and Maxus distributorships.

Dino Santos, meanwhile, will transition to lead and focus on AC Motors’ motorcycle division which oversees the manufacturing, distribution, and retail operations of the KTM and Husqvarna brands.

Happy Motoring!!!

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