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A subway in Metro Manila’s future

Metro Manila will have a subway by 2025 – eight years from now. The first phase of the project will run from Mindanao Ave. in Quezon City to the gateway to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City. It takes about three hours to travel this distance by car in today’s traffic. In a subway, it would take just 30 minutes, according to the planners.

It feels good to know that we have such a plan in the face of today’s traffic gridlock all over Metro Manila. The government is moving ahead with the subway, whose R355.6-billion funding was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority the other day, with extensions planned later, north to Caloocan City and south to Dasmariñas City in Cavite.

But then we are reminded that there have been so many plans to expand Metro Manila’s road system that have remained unfinished all these years. The elevated highway connecting the North and South Expressways has been under construction for years now, its many bare columns standing in the middle of congested traffic, but it seems disputes over right of way have delayed the project’s completion.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has been looking for ways to keep traffic moving – clearing side streets of parked cars, moving bus terminals away from Epifanio de los Santos Ave., banning mall sales on weekends, studying plans to limit the number of vehicles on key routes, etc.

All these moves in combination have served to speed up traffic a little. But real relief will come when the elevated highways are completed. Some countries like China, Japan, and Singapore are known to complete public works projects within specific schedules. That does not seem to be among our capabilities.

We are certainly glad to learn of new projects like the subway, which will be funded with a R355.6-billion loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with an extremely low interest rate of 0.10 percent a year, payable in 40 years. Our planners, however, must see to it that schedules are not set back for months and years because of such problems as right of way.

We hope to see the elevated expressway from SLEX to NLEX within a year or two. Then we can look forward to the subway system which should be in operation by 2025 if our public works officials today can do their work with greater efficiency than past ones.

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