What is the future of urban mobility in the Philippines?

Mobility has always been a central aspect of urbanization. Two of the main problems in high-density urban areas are traffic and air pollution from transportation. A huge part of the population rely on private transportation and this may present a trade-off in the areas of resource utilization, health, and environmental protection.

In a well-designed city, the roads allow for smooth mobility, less traffic, and improved flow of goods and services. Businesses should work with the public sector to improve urban mobility. Furthermore, each locality must present solutions that fit the specific needs of its residents.

In the Philippines, I have observed this form of cooperation between the private sector and the government. For example, there are infrastructure projects being built by innovative businesses or through partnerships between the private and public sectors. 

Since I arrived in the country many years ago, I have personally seen many public infrastructure projects finished and opened for use both in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Cagayan de Oro, which I often visit. Many more are ongoing, which is a good trend that shows how the Philippines is catching up with its more advanced Asian neighbors. 

There are a number of expansion works and new networks being created to decongest Metro Manila, EDSA in particular. The priority infrastructure projects that are scheduled to be completed this year include the Skyway SLEX Extension, the rehabilitation of the MRT-3, the BGC-Ortigas Link Bridge, the LRT-2 East Extension, and the MRT-LRT Common Station in the North Edsa area.

In the pipeline is the railway project, which will connect NCR to several areas in Southern Luzon, including the Bicol region. It covers Calamba, Laguna; Batangas City; and Bicol (Matnog, Sorsogon, Legazpi, and Albay). This is good news for the manufacturing sector and the real estate industry, of course.

Before, if you were to travel from Manila’s commercial district to your home outside the city, it might take you anywhere from three to five hours. But with the new road systems that have opened and networks being constructed, along with better public transportation systems, your travel time could be decreased by half. This is everyone’s opportunity to enjoy a natural home environment and lower cost of living, while being able to keep a job in the metropolis. It is apparent that the government’s infrastructure strategies will play a major role in the country’s economic recovery. 

Finally, to further improve transportation in the country and uplift the people’s quality of life, investing in efficient public transportation systems and internet connectivity would definitely reduce traffic and air pollution. A recent study found that air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels results in the deaths of around 8.7 million people worldwide each year. Hence, the cities of the future need to take a serious look at how the air pollution problem is addressed. Environmental protection and the people’s well-being must be a central consideration in the design and development of these modern capitals.

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