Pampanga mass transit system gains ground

IF ALL goes well, Pampanga may soon have its own mass transit system, paving the way for better travel time in the province, contributing to the effort to decongest Metro Manila and spreading development to the provinces.

This, as former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was briefed by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on an ongoing study for the proposed Pampanga Mass Transit System.

Dr. Hussein Lidasan's study seeks to ascertain the viability of a mass transit system in the province and the appropriate low-carbon technology that would ensure an efficient intermodal transport system.

Arroyo, in a Facebook post Tuesday, June 18, said she will help in the implementation of the Megalopolis plan in Pampanga after she steps down from the House of Representatives on June 30.

"The Megalopolis project seeks to make Pampanga the gateway to Asia through the development of cluster cities (agriculture, ecology, air transportation and marine life) focusing on specific areas and technologies. One of the main components of the Megalopolis project is to ensure an efficient, reliable and sustainable transportation system in and around Pampanga," Arroyo said in her Facebook post.

The transit system, if pushed through, is expected to guarantee inclusive mobility and accessibility in the province and provide connectivity to urban centers, production areas, residential areas, commercial and industrial centers and institutional and service areas.

The project is also hoped to be anchored on clean technology for an environmentally sustainable province, and be supported by smart technology system for efficient and reliable operation and efficient fare collection system.

Lidasan said the study analyzed the traffic-generating land use of the province such as malls, schools, and government agencies and evaluated the major road networks to be connected by the mass transit system.

It also surveyed the existing transport systems by determining the volume count and passenger occupancy along the routes plied in Pampanga.

It showed that among the routes that see the highest vehicle count are the Mabalacat City-San Fernando City and Lubao-San Fernando City routes.

Lidasan said value engineering/value analysis (VE/VA) was conducted to figure out the alignment of the transport system needed.

"The VE/VA is an analysis wherein we will look at the best way of meeting the objectives without necessarily reducing the cost or increasing the cost, but to look at the value that will meet the objectives of our project," Lidasan said.

The VE/VA analysis led to an alignment value proposition that will serve 16 municipalities and cities of Pampanga and support sustainable growth and development in the province, as it takes into consideration high traffic volume and the Pampanga Megalopolis Plan.

Key considerations of the alignment include Clark, as one of the key development attractions in the province; the three possible major stations in Apalit, San Fernando, and Angeles; and the proposed Clark Railway Project.

Lidasan said the next steps of the study will focus on transport demand forecast, technology selection, key informant interviews and focus group discussions, and stakeholder consultations.

The transport demand forecast, in particular, shall help the team determine the kind of mass transit system that would best serve Pampanga.

"For example, nakita natin ang kailangan pala is more of a commuter line. Then that will either be LRT (light rail system) or a medium rail system. And it will accommodate approximately 400,000 to 750,000 people. If it is a feeder line, it would be a monorail or BRT (bus rapid transit)," Lidasan said.

He said a BRT system might be the most efficient option for Pampanga as it is the best system for a daily traffic demand of less than 400,000 person-trips per day.

The submission of the draft final report of the study is slated on the second week of October 2019, while the revised final report shall be submitted after the receipt of comments from the Neda and Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, findings and proposals shall be presented to the local government officials and relevant stakeholders of Pampanga on June 28.


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