Military boosts subway plan


The government’s plan to build a subway system in Metro Manila just got a boost from a very unexpected source. The military.

A lot of government infrastructure projects are delayed by right-of-way problems. The power of eminent domain is not all that absolute.

Many projects got delayed for months or even years by stubborn owners of property who won’t give way. Some on principle, others over the price for giving way.

Some recent elevated roadway projects even had to realign construction because they can’t get right-of-way soon enough.

The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) – Phase I is looking at avoiding right-of-way problems for a number of substations. 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of National Defense (DND) have signed a Right-of-Way Usage Agreement (ROW UA) covering 5 properties owned by the DND where stations or access to the subway would be built.

The agreement was signed by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Under the agreement the two agencies will closely coordinate efforts in the “development of designs for convenient access points to Metro Manila Subway stations and terminal interchange plazas, as well as access to the different DND camps and bases.

In a press statement, Secretary Tugade said the agreement is a major breakthrough towards the government’s thrust of modernizing and upgrading the country’s mass transport system.

The agreement covers the following properties and planned subway stations: 

1. Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), for North Avenue Station;

2. V. Luna Hospital, for East Avenue Station;

3. Camp E. Aguinaldo, for Camp Aguinaldo Station;

4. Philippine Army, for interstation between Lawton and Senate-DepEd Stations; and

5. Villamor Air Base, for interstation between Senate-DepEd and FTI/NAIA T3 Stations.

“With today’s Right-of-Way Usage Agreement signing ceremony, the Duterte Government, with all its Departments, Agencies, and Instrumentalities, move a step closer towards realizing the Philippines’ Golden Age of Infrastructure, and in delivering a more comfortable life for every Filipino,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said.

Smooth traffic

The DoTr’s insistence on supposed contact-less transactions at tollgates is all well and good. It is after all ostensibly to help minimize the spread of the Covid-19 contagion.

But some are questioning the real need for it or whether tollway operators are really prepared for 100 percent cashless toll collection.

The December 1 start of cashless toll collections began to mixed reviews.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) described the first day as “generally smooth.”

A press release said that as of 10:45am, traffic at the STAR Tollway, Southern Luzon Expressway, the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) was generally “smooth and peaceful.”

But it reported that there “were still steady queues of vehicles at assigned Autosweep RFID installation lanes.” 

Meanwhile, angry posts about traffic inside tollways and problems with sensors unable to read RFIDs trended on social media on the first day of December. And it is still trending as this is being written.

According to reports on mainstream media, at some tollways blame was laid on many motorists who did not have sufficient load on their RFID accounts that it was decided to allow cash payments.

Tollway operators also attributed the problems to “birth pains” and maintained that things will smooth over as motorists learn to adjust to cashless toll collection.

Meanwhile, tollway operators claim they are or have been ready for full cashless toll collection even before the first deadline set by the DOTr.

Still it is telling that despite claiming generally smooth traffic and operations, SMC president Ramon S. Ang is still pressing for extending the period of leniency for those without RFIDs entering tollways from January 11 up to perhaps February.

Said SMC’s Ang in a press statement:

“As we said, all our expressways and our toll plazas are fully equipped and ready. I think most of our regular motorists are also ready and are in fact benefitting already from faster and safer throughput at toll plazas. But we still have so many motorists that have not secured their RFID stickers, as we can see from the continuous high volume of applications at installations sites. It’s for them that we are asking government for a little more consideration. We can also better avoid panic and crowding at installation sites. It’s physical contact that we are guarding against, after all, with this cashless toll collection measure.”

Meanwhile, motorists who don’t frequent tollways are adviced not to join the rush for RFIDs that some see as akin to panic-buying. Tollways will continue to issue free stickers.

“If there is no urgent need for motorists to travel and use the expressways yet, we advise you that there is no need to panic. You can avoid the lines and the hassle, and still get your sticker at a more convenient time,” Ang said.

Direct ayuda

If we read fewer reports of complaints from public utility vehicle operators and drivers about their plight under community quarantine restrictions, it may be because many are back out on the streets servicing assigned routes.

And it may be because many have already received direct cash asssistance from government.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reported that more than P802 million in cash assistance has already been distributed to bus and jeepney drivers and operators.

This has benefitted operators or drivers of 125,517 PUV units as of December 3, 2020.

The direct cash assistance to PUVs is included in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, the LTFRB said.

Isuzu La Union

Isuzu Philippine Corporation (IPC) is one dealership closer to complete its “Road to 50 Dealerships” campaign.

         Isuzu and One Maharlika Motor Sales and Services Corporation have just signed the contract that launches the newly built Isuzu La Union, IPC’s 45th dealership

An Isuzu press statement said the expansive 7,300-square meter Isuzu La Union dealership, located along the national highway in Barrio Paringao in Bauang, La Union province, features the new Isuzu Outlet Standard (IOS) for Isuzu dealerships, which has a cleaner and more streamlined interior and facade.

Isuzu La Union is expected to offer the full roster of brand-new Isuzu LCVs and CVs, such as the mu-X SUV, the D-Max pickup, the Traviz light truck, as well as the N-Series, F-Series, and C&E-Series trucks, it added.

Mitsubishi app

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is making it easier for customers to schedule service appointments and improve their ownership experience.

The new Mitsubishi Service Connect Application (MSC) will allow Mitsubishi owners to set and manage their vehicle’s service, repair and test drive bookings, keep track of their vehicle’s service history and, with their mobile device’s GPS access, search for nearby Authorized Mitsubishi Dealers.

The MSC app will also allow clients to provide ratings and reviews on each appointment and booking experience.

Mitsubishi expects this feedback mechanism will help improve the after-sales customer experience and address servicing concerns.

MMPC president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri said: “Time has always been a commodity of extreme value to our customers, especially now, during this pandemic. That is why we are introducing a feature-rich mobile application that makes servicing their vehicles safer, more convenient and completely transparent.”

Raptor raffle

Ford Philippines is celebrating the 10,000-unit sales milestone of the Ranger Raptor by giving one free to five lucky buyers of any Ford vehicle until December 31.

Ford announced that customers who will purchase any Ford vehicle until December 31 from Ford dealerships nationwide will earn one raffle entry that will give them a chance to win a brand-new Ranger Raptor.

Customers who will purchase a Ford vehicle through an EastWest Bank auto loan transaction will earn two raffle entries.

“The Ranger Raptor Raffle promo is our way of celebrating our 10,000 Raptor owner milestone as we want more Filipino customers to own and drive the Ranger Raptor and enjoy its segment-leading features and capabilities,” said PK Umashankar, Ford Philippines managing director.

Happy Motoring!!!

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