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After bumpy ride, Noy wants UP train tweaked

The presidential convoy drives past the DOST-Automated Guide Way Transit system at the University of the Philippines in Diliman yesterday. Inset shows President Aquino riding the elevated train with (from left) Megaworld chairman Andrew Tan, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and UP president Alfredo Pascual. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - After a bumpy ride on the campus train, President Aquino said the new Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) system that will run inside the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City needs significant improvement.

He instructed the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to improve the efficiency of the AGT system in order to provide utmost comfort and safety for its passengers, including students and professors of the state-owned UP.

Aquino yesterday joined the demonstration run of the AGT, the first locally developed and fully automated transport system located within the UP campus in Diliman.

Science Secretary Mario Montejo said Aquino called his attention to the bumpy ride due to uneven tracks and suspension system after the President completed the test run on the 465-meter concrete elevated track of the AGT.

“Apparently, he also observed what we observed, that the train coaches were not that stable. He said the passengers might be afraid to ride in these coaches if the bumps are not repaired,” he said.

A flagship project of the DOST in collaboration with UP, the elevated AGT is emission-free and powered by electricity, similar to other elevated carriers abroad and the light rail transit system in Metro Manila.

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Montejo said that the total project cost for the 465-meter elevated concrete track, coaches, rolling stocks or main mechanical frameworks and power system and controls amounted to P55 million.

He nevertheless assured Aquino that his agency would expeditiously act on his concerns and that these would be addressed by the time the third prototype of the AGT will be available.

“The third prototype will be more comfortable and (its ride) less harsh,” he said.

DOST Assistant Secretary Raymond Liboro clarified that the AGT is still undergoing birth pains.

Liboro said that the AGT system is basically a train running on rubber tires, like a bus that runs on an elevated cement “guideway” with no steel rail tracks. It is the first locally developed train and is now undergoing functional tests.

The AGT is envisioned to be a more efficient and greener mode of transport and a possible answer to Metro Manila’s perennial traffic woes. With Rainier Allan Ronda

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