The plan to build a fast-moving subway as part of a long-lasting solution to Metro Manila’s growing road congestion has the backing of Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza of Buhay Party-list.
“We absolutely need an underground train system long-term. In the years ahead, there’s simply no way we can efficiently move large numbers of people around the national capital without a subway,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said.
Urban planners project Metro Manila’s population to hit 20 million by 2020, up by 7.1 million from 12.9 million in 2015.
“Right now, we can no longer widen our roads. So we have only two options left—to construct new mass transport systems up in the air, which we are already doing with the additional elevated trains, or to burrow underground and create subways,” Atienza said.
The lawmaker said he had counted on the previous administration to come up with the blueprint for a Metro subway.
“But they failed to plan ahead. This time, under President (Rodrigo) Duterte, we are hoping transport engineers finally will get things done,” he said.
The Management Association of the Philippines, which counts as members more than 800 of the country’s largest private corporations, supports the notion a subway under the 23.8-kilometer Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
Atienza said a subway could be built in phases, just like elevated trains. “But we have to start somewhere,” he said.
Besides the EDSA subway, the Department of Transportation has preliminary plans to put together a 12-kilometer underground loop around Makati City, Pasay City and Taguig City—estimated to cost some P375 billion.
Another alternative along EDSA, Atienza said, is to construct a dual-purpose tunnel possibly patterned after Malaysia’s Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART).
“The advantage of a Malaysian-type SMART tunnel is that it would help us fight both road congestion and flash flooding at the same time,” he said.
Malaysia spent $515 million to put up the 9.7-kilometer SMART.
The two-channel tunnel serves as a motorway for light vehicles under normal conditions.
However, during the wet season, the tunnel has two modes.
In the first mode, with light rainfall, some floodwater may be diverted into the lower bypass channel, while the upper section remains open to motor vehicle passage.
In the second mode, during extreme rainstorms, even the upper channel is totally closed to all motor vehicle traffic and automated water-tight gates are opened to divert floodwaters.