MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is considering going “underground” to solve Metro Manila’s traffic problems.
Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya said on Tuesday that the government has been considering a subway system in the metropolis as an alternative to congested roads and elevated light railway lines.
At the sidelines of the Philippines’s mid-year economic briefing, Abaya said his department, along with the Department of Public Works and Highways, has been working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to study the feasibility of an underground train system.
According to him, the subterranean railway will likely use a parallel alignment to Edsa, the main thoroughfare connecting the north and southern areas of Metro Manila.
The study, Abaya said, was part of broader steps by the government to come up with a transport plan for Mega Manila, which JICA was also handling.
The same Japanese agency earlier conducted a study, which showed that the Philippines was losing about P2.4 billion per day in terms of forgone productivity and income due to heavy traffic.
Abaya added that the subway system study or its initial concept may be completed by January next year but it was unlikely that the project would be implemented by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016.
“The least that we can do is lay down the master plan, lay down the groundwork,” Abaya told reporters. “If we can start it, why not? Hopefully, whoever replaces us will see the logic and merit of it and use it as a template.”
“Hopefully, by January , we can get a glimpse of the [subway] plan,” Abaya added.
This is not the first time a subway system has been proposed for Metro Manila but the pronouncement by the DOTC means the government is formally exploring the possibility.
The idea was floated by past administrations but it stumbled on viability issues.