READY FOR PASSENGERS. The AGT train approaches its station near the UP College of Fine Arts to give waiting passengers a free ride.

by: Gabriel Sante

MANILA – Trains used by Filipinos in the country today are all produced by foreigners. However, a game changer is starting to emerge: a train vying to rule the streets using a locally developed technology.

The Automated Guideway Transit System (AGT) is a joint project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), in partnership with the University of the Philippines Diliman.

The AGT takes pride on its environment-friendly technology as it promises zero emission of greenhouse gases while using electricity as its main power source.

The train, which runs at a maximum speed of 45 kilometers per hour and can carry as much as 60 passengers, is actually designed to be smaller than the MRT and LRT – a perfect match with our narrow streets and roads. “In EDSA, for example, you take a jeepney going to Ayala, but it would be better if there’s the AGT working as well,” Joey Pangilinan, senior science research specialist of MIRDC, said.

Motor vehicles like jeepneys are the main source of air pollution in Metro Manila, studies show.

Construction of the AGT in UP Diliman began in June 2012 and was finished by October of the same year. Previous test runs were conducted by the team to ensure the safety of the unit.

This train, even at its developing stage, is a pioneer in local transport technology. “Here in the Philippines, we have no standards regarding these (trains), mostly because we purely rely (on) foreign standards. One of the things that DOST wants to do is to create our own standards,” Pangilinan said.

Free rides on the AGT were offered to the public last month. “Basically, the demo rides were there to see people’s reactions and for them to understand the technology of the AGT. Although we started talking about this with the previous Chancellor (Saloma), both of them (Saloma and Tan) seem to like the plan so far,” Pangilinan said.

And yes, there are plans of extending the train route to other points of the campus.

“This is the only part of the loop that we made because we had limited budget, plus we have the controversy regarding the Ikot jeepneys. Some sectors are not just ready for this technology,” Pangilinan added.

Aside from the Filipino train prototype in UP Diliman, there are other train samples being ho
ned in various places in the country. “This demo (in UP) is just one of the prototypes. The other one’s in Bicutan, Taguig inside (the) DOST compound,” Pangilinan said. Another prototype is placed in Litex, Commonwealth and there are ongoing plans to build models in Clark, Pampanga and in Baguio.

Clean, trailblazer and Filipino: these three words sum up the game changer AGT. Hopefully, this train will solve the Metro traffic problem and bring comfort and pride to the Filipino commuters once it is fully integrated with the public transport system. – with reports from Camille Aguinaldo

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