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The cable car solution – Manila Bulletin


THE VIEW FROM RIZAL

Dr. Jun Ynares

We were surprised at the response of the public to the idea of installing cable cars in the country as part of the effort to solve the traffic crisis and improve the country’s transportation system.

The idea was recently resurrected by Senator Robin Padilla, a move which was immediately met with skepticism, harsh criticisms and humorous memes in social media. Not everyone, however, treated the idea as a laughing matter. The idea of using cable cars to transport people in our country drew unexpected quarters.

The proposal to install cable cars was brought up by former Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. Prior to assuming office in 2016, the ex-transportation czar already mentioned that he will advance the idea of cable cars as soon as he was sworn into office.

Two years later, in 2018, he announced to media that he was talking to a number of proponents. He said he was convincing proponents to make sure that the fare for a cable car ride should approximate that which is charged by the means of public transportation most often used by ordinary Filipinos.

Secretary Tugade’s plan was to install cable cars along routes that would connect Santa Rosa in Laguna to the Makati Central Business District. He also aired plans to install these in Pasig City, Baguio and Boracay. He bared that the idea was brought up when he met with his Russian counterpart on a visit to Moscow with the then-President in 2017.

The idea of installing cable cars as a complementary form of transportation in the country also received much boost from esteemed and international-recognized urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr. who voiced support for it as early as 2019.

As he backed the revival of the idea by Senator Padilla, Palafox said the use of cable cars will not only alleviate traffic in Metro Manila and urban centers, it will also “boost security and benefit the environment.”

Palafox said the adoption of cable cars as a means of transportation is “becoming a global trend,” and could “future-proof our country from perennial traffic problems.” Palafox is an architect whose firm is recognized as one of the world’s Top 500 architectural firms. He has a degree in Advanced Management Development Program for Real Estate from Harvard University.

In several countries today, cable cars are no longer mere tourist attractions. As early as 2004, Colombia has integrated cable cars into its transportation system. New York, Venezuela, Algeria, Bolivia, Vietnam and a few others have followed suit.

In 2019, Palafox pointed to the installation of cable cars that would ply the Antipolo-Ortigas-Makati route is an excellent possibility.

Palafox’s idea has been proven to be worthwhile pursuing. In fact, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has allocated the amount of US$261,000 for a pre-feasibility study. According to the Terms of Reference issued by the ADB, the study will help assess options “to increase the impact of MRT 4’s development” through the integration of a cable cars connecting the “densely populated urban areas of Antipolo hillside cities.”

The ADB noted that Antipolo today is accessible “only via congested serpentine roads.” It appears the ADB is betting on the wisdom of using cable cars to connect Antipolo City with the MRT 4, the latest MRT project commenced under the previous administration.

The ADB saw this opportunity a few years back. In 2019, the ADB’s transport sector chief told media that cable cars “may be a feasible form of public transportation” in some parts of the country. The ADB official said cable car systems “can skip the need to buy large tracts of land which often causes the delays in construction of big-ticket infrastructure, especially in urban areas.”

“A cable car system can be rolled out faster that other mass transit systems,” the ADB official said.
With an internationally-respected urban planner and the ADB seriously considering the idea of using cable cars, the adoption of this mode of transportation is no longer just a fantasy. It is now a solution under study. The ADB will not shell out more than P10 million in consultants’ fees if it does not feel good about the idea of cable cars.

There have been warnings from critics about the possible risks that come with the use of cable cars as public transportation. We are sure that those who will design the system will factor in the risks. The fact is all modes of transportation do carry risks. The brilliance of man has been put to good use in bringing about the near-total elimination of those risks.

We believe that riding a cable car to work along with 11 other passengers would not be as nearly perilous as riding Airbus 350 coasting at 30,000 feet with nearly 500 passengers.

We do not know if a cable car system would be a reality. If it proves to be feasible, we do not know if the government would build it and if yes, when.

What we do know is that we must consider all possible solutions. The pathological cynicism of chronic critics cannot solve the traffic problem.

(For feedback, please email to [email protected] or send it to Block 6 Lot 10 Sta. Barbara 1 cor. Bradley St., Mission Hills Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal.)

 

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