Where’s the train?

Duterte pushes anew railway system for Davao City
AN IMPATIENT Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte has asked funding agencies like the World Bank for the immediate implementation of a railway system in the city in anticipation for an increase in vehicle traffic in the next five years.

Duterte made the statement at the weekly “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” questioning the suggestion of an ADB-funded study that the city won’t need a railway system until five years.

The mayor said during yesterday’s episode that the construction would have taken the same time as he expressed his indignation that the construction would begin only at the time when the city already needs it.

According to the mayor, the city needs a railway from the downtown area heading towards Calinan and Toril in the third district and to Lasang, Bunawan, and Tibungco.

He said a simple train like the ones used by Taiwan “when they were still poor” would do, and that a system similar to the MRT and LRT in Manila was too grandiose.

Duterte attributed the city’s vehicle volume to the city’s role as a junction to different destinations in Mindanao such as Butuan, Cotabato, and Bukidnon.

Aside from these were the service vehicles used by businessmen.

The mayor estimates the city’s vehicles to reach around 65,000 per day, with around 700 to 1,000 motor vehicles sold every month.

Asked about the worsening traffic condition in Metro Manila, Duterte said there was no solution to it, especially since no one can stop people from buying cars. “Walang solusyon yan. You can have five Dutertes at the same time picking their brains.”

An Asian Development Bank study has recommended the adoption of its recommendation for further studies of its sustainable transportation study it conducted in 2012, which the City Council supported through legislation.

In June last year, Duterte signed a memorandum of agreement with Korea Engineering and Construction to conduct a feasibility study on a light railway transit for Davao City. If the study finds it profitable, the company is also tasked to construct the project on a build-operate-transfer scheme.

But consultancy firm Halcrow, in its Comprehensive Public Transport Reform Strategy for Davao City for the ADB, concluded that Davao City is not yet ready for an LRT and should instead pursue a bus rapid transport system or highly prioritized bus system.

The study found out that Davao City’s roads are too narrow to construct an LRT.

Another wrinkle in the proposed LRT by the Koreans was the lack of passengers in Davao City as the initial recommendation was for the modern transport system to cater to 25,000 passengers every hour, that’s way above Halcrow’s projection of less than 10,000 commuters per hour for Davao City.

According to documents from KEC, the growth rate for traffic activities in the city was around 2.88 percent from 2007 to 2011. KEC also proposed two routes, with one railway cutting across 13 kilometers and the other 17 kilometers.