Roamer's Roundup

Beyond the Mass Transit: The (Planned) Alternative Transport Options for Metro Manila

I don’t know what’s with this particular time of year, but so much news has been going out about plans for more public transportation options for an increasingly-congested metropolis. Something that is more than welcome if only to help alleviate the worsening traffic situation on the streets.

Given the propensity these days of the government to make press releases that they are planning this and that, (just so they can have a “legacy” to leave behind before the end of their term in two years time) let us keep in mind that for now, they are just that: plans. Until we see something built, even a little component of it, it is best to not keep those hopes up yet.  Nevertheless, we can talk a bit about them based on what we know so far, something the Urban Roamer will be doing in this particular entry.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Recently, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) gave approval for the establishment of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for the City of Cebu. The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is keen in developing such a system for Metro Manila, eyeing a route from Manila City Hall to Quezon City Circle as where the first BRT line will possibly traverse.

BRTs in Bogota, Colombia, the inspiration for the planned BRT system for Cebu and Manila (courtesy of

But before we go further, one may ask what the BRT is anyway. The best way perhaps to describe is to think of it as a mass transit on the road, with buses instead of trains to ride on, built at the fraction of a cost a rail system may entail. Thus the buses in the BRT system will have a dedicated line and designated stops.

This video recently released by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) should provide a better understanding on the BRT.

Monorail dreams

Apart from a BRT system, another new transport system being proposed for the metropolis is the monorail system. As the name implies, this involves construction of a single rail track to accommodate the train (instead of the usual double-track railways) and the trains to be used are designed only for light-moderate passenger loads, so they are not as long as regular trains.

example of a monorail (taken from the web)

Currently there are a couple of monorail projects being proposed in the city. One is the proposed monorail that would link Makati, (the Makati CBD area in particular) Taguig, (Fort Bonifacio area) and Pasay. (NAIA area) The other project being pushed by the Mandaluyong City government involves the construction of a line called Automated People Mover (APM) which will run from Mandaluyong City Hall to the Greenfield District near the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard interchange, up to the area of the San Miguel Corporation headquarters and SM Megamall.

The AGT project

Then there is that homegrown “monorail” project currently being tested. Called the Automated Guideway Transit or AGT, this project is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) aimed at producing an affordable transport system that is Filipino in design as well.

the AGT trains of the DOST (photo courtesy of the GB-SB Tech Blog)

While it is popularly called a monorail, it differs from the regular monorails in that, for one, the trains use rubber wheels, and two, the tracks the AGTs travel on is not actually monorail-type.

Currently there are two test tracks where the AGTs have been set up so far: the DOST complex in Bicutan, Taguig and in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, running from C.P. Garcia Avenue to the area near the College of Fine Arts. There are plans to expand the current AGT line in UP Diliman to cover other parts of the campus, and there is a possibility in extending it from Commonwealth Avenue to Katipunan Avenue, serving as a link between the planned Line 7 and the current Line 2.

Pending further research and development, there is a possibility that we will see AGTs beyond those two locations are studies are currently being made on other routes that they can be used. There may be a possibility that AGTs will be used in the aforementioned monorail lines that are being planned.

As always, we should keep an eye on these planned developments and see how far these plans will go. We can only hope this would be for the good of the metropolis.


Acknowledgements as well to Skyscrapercity, Caught (up) in traffic, and Philippine Star

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