Bonifacio Global City has many attractions as a place to work and live. But, like many places in Metro Manila, it also suffers from worsening transport situation. Those coming to work in BGC from other parts of Metro Manila often experience commuting time of over 90 minutes one way, and the journey would involve more than one ride in unpleasant modes of transport. The loss in productivity as well as quality of life is very significant.
The Urban Land Institute of the Philippines hosted “A Resilient and Healthy BGC” Community Workshop on July 31, 2015, which was attended by over 90 dignitaries, BGC locators, community leaders and members. The workshop included many interesting presentations, one of which was a presentation by Mr. Robert Siy, Senior Adviser, Office of the Undersecretary for Planning. His presentation covered the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit System under planning.
Urban Land Institute Philippines, President of Urban Land Institute Philippines, Mr. Carlos Rufino, opened the workshop.
A BRT system involves the use of dedicated lanes for a series of buses to transport a large number of people. Like a light rail system, platforms will be provided for passengers to wait for, get on and get off the buses at designated locations. On the other hand, it does not require the construction of tracks and power system. According to the research of Department of Transportation & Communications, a BRT system has been proven effective in reducing traffic congestion in many mega cities, and at a fraction of the cost of systems that involve building of train tracks.
Mr. Robert Siy presents the Metro Manila BRT system. Schedule of the project is seen behind him.
BRT system is implemented in cities such as Jakarta, Shanghai, Cape Town, Ahmedabad (in India), to name a few. It has its supporters and detractors. The main opposition to it are motorists who will have fewer lanes to use, even when the buses are not running or in high demand. Its success therefore hinges on converting car users to mass transit system users. If mass transit system is made more comfortable at all stages, including adequate park-n-ride and drop off facilities, access and waiting area, then some taxi and Uber users as well as private car owners may be willing to do so.
The components of the proposed Metro Manila BRT system that involves Bonifacio Global City are:
•BRT Phase 1 that affects 7th, 8th and 9th Avenue
•BRT Phase 2 that includes construction of Kapitolyo BGC crossing
In addition, the BRT facilities can complement two Greenway systems under planning separately by DOTC and the authority of BGC, namely Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. A greenway is "a strip of undeveloped land near an urban area, set aside for recreational use or environmental protection" (Oxford dictionary). If vehicular traffic cannot be managed properly, at least with greenways, we can rely on our two legs to get us to some places! It will be healthier and less expensive also!
•Phase 1 Greenway that runs along BRT Phase 1 and portion of 30th Street and Burgos Circle
•BGC Greenway that covers the old Meralco easement at the western edge of BGC
The map below shows the alignment of these four projects.
BGC BRT and Greenway projects.
These four projects could benefit tens of thousands of commuters to BGC.
BRT Phase 1
The current 9th Avenue in BGC does not have bus traffic.
Planned BRT Phase 1 will use 9th Avenue for buses to take people to McKinley Road in the south, and
Pasig in the north. If and when operational, this route will save commuters of these destinations a lot of time.
The planned BRT also includes a bridge, Lawton Sta. Monica bridge, that connects BGC to Kapitolyo. There was local objection to the bridge, which will be used by public transport vehicles as well as pedestrians and bicycles. DOTC's answers to the local concerns are: the bridge will be used by public transport vehicles (which hopefully means the non-polluting ones with limited number), and will come with investments in public facilities such as parks.
The bridge shown in the simulated photo looks very nice. If the vehicular traffic can be properly managed, then local objection may be ameriolated.
BRT Phase 2
BRT Phase 2 involves extending the Bus Rapid Transit system from BGC to C5, using 32nd Street.
Phase 1 BGC Greenway.
Phase 1 BGC Greenway includes the proposed Lawton Sta. Monica bridge, the provision on bicycle lane on a section of 30th Street, as well as making use of Quingua Street for pedestrians to access Buendia MRT station from BGC. If this initiative pushes through, the haphazard way of pedestrians walking along Kalayaan Avenue to go to EDSA would be a thing of the past.
The plan to improve Quingua Street would involve decking over the open nullah that exists along that street, and removing the telephone/power posts.
Burgos Circle will be upgraded to include bicycle lane and improved pedestrian crossing, so that it can be used to connect BGC to Quingua Street.
This photo shows the path of the Greenway in Quingua Street.
The southern portion of the Phase 1 BGC Greenway involves improving the pavement
near SM Aura and using the ramp next to SM Aura to connect BGC to C5.
DOTC is said to require "cooperation" to use the ramp to connect BGC to C5. Whose cooperation? We hope they are nice people.
This project is being undertaken by Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. We will give details about that project in another article.
The schedule of the Metro Manila BRT project has a best-scenario completion date of 2019. We sincerely hope the less controversial portions of it, especially the greenways, can be completed earlier, as traffic situation in BGC is getting worse everyday.