It can’t be all roads and highways, for obvious reasons.
Land does not expand, and motorists and commuters are growing by leaps and bounds.
More than diversifying our public transport system, we must rationalize it.
We have to maximize movement, and in doing so minimize delays, costs, and wastes.
It has to be intermodal – linking bus terminals, train stations, river ferries. commercial/passenger shipping ports, and airports.
In short, we can achieve production efficiency and raise economic output.
To make the country's transportation system truly sustainable, policies promoting alternative means of mobility -- like walking and biking -- should be complemented by efficient mass-transport systems.
Thus, we fully agree with and strongly support Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking, in aiming for this goal.
At the continuation of the joint Senate hearing on several proposals seeking to establish sustainable transportation systems in the country, Cayetano said:.
"Aside from promoting bikes, we will really need to prioritize [long-distance travels], because naka-tie up talaga itong lahat. Inasmuch as I am a biker by practice, we also need to complement this [advocacy] with other sustainable modes of mass transportation."
"These include the bus rapid transit (BRT), integration of our railway systems, and our use of water vehicles on major waterways like Pasig [river] and Laguna [lake]. Hindi pa natin nama-maximize 'yun," Cayetano pointed out.
At the hearing, the Department of Transportation presented its proposed projects on sustainable transport, including low-carbon modern urban transport systems, service contracting for public buses along EDSA, the EDSA Busway and Greenway projects, the establishment of bike lanes, bike sharing in local communities, and the Cebu BRT project.
In response, Cayetano urged DoTr and other concerned agencies to come up with a comprehensive plan and timeframe for all transport-related programs, including their respective budget proposals, to ensure that such initiatives will be in line with the SDGs and AmBisyon Natin 2040.
"I'd also like to see the plans of PNR (Philippine National Railways), the complete plans for MRT, LRT - anything that has to do with the shift towards sustainability, I'd like it to be presented."
"At this point in time, we are way past the examples... We really need [the projects] to be rolled out. And we need the support of DOF (Department of Finance) and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority). I need them all to be on board... When I sponsor this measure, I [should] know what is already happening and what still needs to be pushed," the lady lawmaker pointed out.
Meanwhile, Cayetano also stressed the need to have better collaboration among agencies in government to make sure all factors related to sustainable transportation, including the health, environment, and energy aspects, are well taken into account.
"We need to tie this in to the recommendations of other experts para makita talaga natin... what is the ill effect of being stranded in traffic for so many hours... on mental and physical health... on pollution caused by our usual urban transportation. Those are all factors that we'd like to put numbers to," she said.
"That is precisely why the Senate came up with this Committee... so that agencies can have one [panel] overseeing the overlapping issues. That's also why it is so crucial to me that the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources weigh in on these bills... I really want to bring into the picture [the impacts of transportation on health and the environment]."