Bridging the gap

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade is a good salesman.

Tugade has sold three big conglomerates on the idea to build bridges with concourses at strategic points along the EDSA Busway at no cost to government.

One of the knocks against the EDSA Busway— a bus transport system utilizing dedicated median lanes of EDSA from Monumento in Caloocan City to the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City — was that it was inconvenient and sometimes unsafe for passenger to loading and unloading stations.

Well, that knock is easily taken down with SM Prime Holdings, D.M. Wesceslao and Associates Incorporated, and Double Dragon Properties Corporation signing up to build the bridges with concourses.

The DOTr says the bridges and concourses will “provide safer, more convenient, and PWD (Persons with Disabilities)-friendly walkways for the riding public using the EDSA Busway stations, and for pedestrians crossing EDSA from one side to the other.”

During the formal signing of the memorandum of agreement between the three groups and the DOTr, Busway Advocate Eduardo Yap said  the bridge-cum-concourses are expected to have state-of-the-art architecture.

These will have concierge services, ticketing booths, and turnstiles for the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), plus ramps and elevators to provide accessibility for PWDs, senior citizens, and pregnant women.

Also at the signing ceremony, Tugade said that with the help of the three groups, “our goal of providing safe, reliable, seamless, and efficient travel for the riding public will further continue. Higit sa lahat, we are making history by changing the system of our public transportation for the better. This will be our legacy for generations to come.”

The EDSA Busway bridges with concourse will be built along the SM Mall of Asia, SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, President D. Macapagal Boulevard in Aseana City, and at EDSA near the corner of President D. Macapagal Avenue.

Construction is expected to start within the next two to three months once detailed engineering designs are finalized and the necessary permits secured. Construction is expected to last from six to eight months.

To be sure those are optimistic estimates. Still that is something commuters can look forward to.

Geely gamechanger

Sojitz G Auto Philippines, exclusive distributor of Geely vehicles in the country, calls the seven-seater Okavango, a gamechanger.

Does the third SUV/crossover/MPV in the local Geely lineup live up to that claim?

We’ll leave that to the experts and buyers.

But here’s what SGAP president and CEO Mikihisa Takayama says about the Okavango: “Coming from the successful launch of the Coolray and Azkarra, we are confident that the new Geely Okavango will be a game changer in the industry as it combines the best qualities of a multi-purpose vehicle and an SUV, into one exciting seven-seater mid-size crossover. This crossover promises to give you a luxurious, uncompromising, and ‘Wonderfully Distinct’ ride.”

SGAP says the term wonderfully distinct applies to the Okavango’s space, technology, design, power and safety.

It cites features such a vast cabin for seven adults and 19-seat configurations, 42 storage nooks, and compartments including a double-layer console, and a triple-zone airconditioning system equipped with CN95 filter.

It adds that also wonderfully distinct is the Okavango’s powertrain, a 1.5L Turbo engine, jointly developed by Geely and Volvo, mated to seven-speed wet-type dual clutch transmission, that combined with 48V Electric Motor Synergy (EMS) technology generates 190hp and provides 300Nm of torque.

Rear-wheel drive

It’s funny at how cliches or famous movie one-liners come to mind from a new car debut. Take for example, the arrival of the new Lexus IS, a compact sports sedan.

One take: “You had us at rear wheel drive.”

Another take: “In the kingdom of the FWDs, the RWD is king.”

The former is spot on. The latter is a stretch.

Still there’s no denying that the Lexus IS sends performance driving enthusiasts’ hearts beating.

Low and wide, the new Lexus IS continues to improve on the formula that has seen more than a million buy the car since its debut back in 1999.

As described by Lexus, “there is nothing quite like the satisfying feeling that comes from piloting a tossable and sharp-handling chassis, low to the ground, and powered by a longitudinally-mounted engine sending drive to the rear wheels.”

The Lexus IS arrives locally two variants— the F Sport and the 300h.

The F Sport comes with 235/40 R19 tires in front and 265/35 R19 in the rear. It is powered by a normally aspirated V6 engine generating 310hp and 380Nm of torque.

The 300h comes with 235/40 R19 wrapped around silver metallic 19-inch wheels. It is powered by a 2.5-liter Inline four-cylinder hybrid power plant mated to a Lexus E-CVT intelligent transmission.

The IS 350 F Sport will set one back P3,808,000, the IS 300h Premier P3,328,000.

RFID worries eased

San Miguel Corporation has announced “it is putting up 100 additional RFID installation sites, among many other measures, to cater to motorists from both southern and northern Metro Manila and beyond.”

SMC said this is to accommodate a larger-than-expected spike in applications, particularly from non-regular users hoping to beat the December deadline when 100-percent cashless transactions will be implemented at all tollways.

Still, SMC pointed out that motorists will still be able to get RFID stickers even after the implementation of the government mandate for cashless transactions.

“Although vehicles without RFID will no longer be allowed to travel on tollways beginning December 1, we will still have RFID installation in various locations, as well as continuing programs for motorists to get stickers. We will also maintain installation sites at major entry plazas. You can still secure stickers at a more convenient time, even after the deadline,” said SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.

Happy Motoring!!!

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