Trains as primary transport mode

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Bulacan is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Located north of Metro Manila, the province has very much lagged behind its counterparts south of the metropolis in terms of land values.

But not for long.

Property consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines expects that Bulacan can be a future property hot spot. It says that the completion of two major infrastructure projects will make the area more attractive to both end-users and investors, and would cause real estate values to increase.

Colliers Philippines senior director and valuation services head Paul Vincent Ramirez explained that these types of infrastructure projects have the ability to quickly transform areas such as Bulacan. He also expects developers to be more aggressive and strategic in how they build landbanks in the province.

Ramirez was recently quoted in media reports saying that major government infrastructure projects, especially in sparsely developed areas, have the potential to really unlock property values and once these projects are completed, these infrastructure corridors are ripe for transit-oriented developments.

But he noted that as early as now, developers are already starting to position themselves in these areas, which has been observed to have already caused an uptick in land prices.

The two major infrastructure projects that could make Bulacan a future property hot spot, Colliers said in its report, are the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 and the New Manila International Airport, both being undertaken by San Miguel Corp.

According to Ramirez, the public transit line should boost Bulacan’s attractiveness as a residential investment destination, especially since it will reduce commute times between the province and Quezon City to just 35 minutes from 120 minutes at the moment.

Once completed, the 22.8-kilometer, 14-station railway project can service 300,000 passengers daily.

Meanwhile, the new airport, Colliers noted, would help decongest the perpetually overcapacity Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The Bulakan, Bulacan airport is slated to open in 2025, the report said, with a capacity of 35 million passengers per year, which could increase to 100 million in the future.

Earlier, Ramirez emphasized that the implementation of infrastructure projects will be a major driver of economic growth beyond 2022. He said that the completion and upgrading of railways, toll roads, and airports across the country should contribute to higher land and property values and will play an important role in dictating the development strategies of property firms beyond the pandemic.


Back in 2018, Abdul Abiad and Jill Adona of the Asian Development Bank analyzed the effect of mass transit investments on land values.

Their study revealed that MRT Line 3 caused residential and commercial land values within one kilometer of stations to increase more than in other areas in Metro Manila, in particular by P3,700 to P6,300 per square meter for residential and P14,000 to P22,100 per sqm for commercial.

They also noted that about half of the incremental increase in land values due to MRT-3 occurred even before the project’s completion.

On aggregate, the incremental impact of MRT 3 on land values within one kilometer of stations is around P180 billion, they added.

The study emphasized that rail transit accounts for only nine percent of Metro Manila’s 13.4 million daily trips, with private transport accounting for 29 percent and non-rail public transport such as jeepneys, buses, and utility vehicles 62 percent, on increasingly congested roads.

Interestingly, in Tokyo, Osaka and other large cities in Japan, buses only serve as a secondary means of public transportation, complementing the train and subway networks.

In many large cities including those in Japan, taxis are also an expensive alternative to an efficient public transportation.

Japan’s transport sector is also known for its energy efficiency. It uses less energy per person compared to other countries, due to a high share of rail transport. The total length of its railways is about 27,182 kilometers.

Meanwhile, from a peak of 1,100 km, the Philippines now only has 76.9 kilometers of operational railways, according to the Department of Transportation. The government, it said, targets to build and lay the groundwork for approximately 1,200 km of railways by 2022 and beyond, which will benefit around 4.5 million passengers per day.

This is probably one thing that our new transportation czar, Secretary Jimmy Bautista, should consider together with the new economic team – making trains and subways as the primary mode of public transport especially in Metro Manila.

What is there not to like about trains? They are safe, cheap considering the high price of fuel, and traffic-free.



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