Taking a break from his busy election-campaign itinerary, President Aquino on Monday tried out a locally developed monorail service now undergoing tests on the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City, and found the ride bumpy.
Aquino took a brief ride on the sleek automated guideway transit (AGT), an elevated train system built by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on the UP campus. It was a “demonstration run” intended to test the AGT for functionality.
After disembarking from the two-coach train with Science Secretary Mario Montejo, UP officials led by Chancellor Caesar Saloma and reporters, Aquino shared his experience with Montejo.
“The President noticed that the ride was bumpy. He also noticed that the track was a bit wavy. He said this might scare off the passengers,” Montejo told reporters later.
Instead of steel wheels, the AGT runs on tires to reduce the noise. The DOST’s version of the monorail is capable of transporting up to 60 passengers from station to station.
Montejo said he assured the President that the kinks will be dealt with when the third prototype of the AGT becomes available.
“The third prototype will be more comfortable and the ride will be less harsh,” he said.
Montejo admitted that the AGT is a research and development effort in progress. The goal is to “perfect a local version” of a mass transit system, he said.
The AGT is emission-free and electrically driven, similar to monorails and other elevated light-rail transport systems in other countries.
The AGT, a joint project of the DOST and the UP, made its maiden run in December last year, nearly a year and a half after it was launched.
Tests till June
The DOST completed the AGT’s main components in November 2012, including the elevated track, coaches and power system. It remains in the testing stage until June.
The AGT’s elevated, 6.1-meter high, 465-meter-long track runs from the College of Fine Arts on E. Jacinto Street to C.P. Garcia Avenue.
At speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour, the trip takes less than five minutes.
The project costs P55 million, according to Montejo.
Its prototype in UP Diliman is being developed into a fully automated or “driverless people mover” by the DOST in consultation with UP experts.
It came two years after the President announced in his 2011 State of the Nation address to Congress a research and development collaboration between the DOST and the UP to produce a new “train system” for the country.
A larger version of the AGT in Bicutan, Taguig City, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Montejo said.
“This AGT is still a light version of the intended mass transport. The regular version is comparable to our present rail systems MRT and LRT, capable of carrying up to 120 passengers at 30 per coach,” he said.
Montejo said that the AGT could help ease traffic congestion in urban centers, and it could be replicated in other places in Metro Manila once the system is “perfected.”