Analysts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) confirmed the irreversible effects that the tricycle sub-sector is generating as regards noise and air pollution and traffic problems. This was the conclusion of the special studies conducted by ADB to promote cleaner production in both the transport and energy sectors, particularly on the use of tricycles. Accordingly, the tricycle sub-sector has been loosely bound by regulations and policies as a public carrier and the number of tricycles plying the streets keeps on increasing that it is now impossible to keep them off the streets. The harmful gases they emit to the environment is also threatening. The ADB sees a local government unit (LGU)-led maintenance program for tricycles as one critical solution.
The Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD) received technical assistance from the ADB to lay the foundation for the development of the strategic plans for the trycicle sub-sector in selected cities in the Philippines. The transportation sector is one of PCIERD areas for research and development (R&D) and as such, it continually looks at ways to develop the sector.
Vehicles are one of the dominant sources of urban pollution in the Asia-Pacific region. While this is common to growing urban areas throughout the world, it is particularly severe in Asia. In the Philippines for instance, 34% of the vehicle population are motorcycles and tricycles. Motorcycles were designed to navigate through narrow roads and streets. The addition of sidecar to convert into a tricycle requires a little effort to maneuver. Tricycles operate as feeder transport for short trips leading to a bigger transport mode or directly to a destination. The rapid growth of three-wheelers over the last 14 years resulted into a major transport industry despite the absence of formal policies from the government.
Specifically, the ADB analysts studied Quezon City and Puerto Princesa, Palawan, two of the country's largest cities whose mode of transport are purely land-based. Vehicles for public use include jeepneys, buses, mini-cabs, taxis, and tricycles. As for Palawan, it's becoming an ecological frontier gave reason for the study considering the big number of tricycles plying the streets.
In Quezon City, data from the Traffic Engineering Center (TEC) say that jeepneys comprise 16.54% of the total traffic volume while buses make up 2.78%. Tricycles, on the other hand, ply the inner areas and communities. According to the Tricycle Regulation Unit (TRU), in 1999 alone, there were a total of 17,339 tricycles registered in Quezon City that service 137 tricycle operators and drivers association (TODA) routes or areas.
It can be said that the city's problem on transport, particularly on three-wheelers, can be traced way back even before World War II. Manila, being the center of development, became congested, the nation's leaders looked northward for relief and founded Quezon City and envisioned it as the New Capital for the country. The city grew by leaps and bounds and became a favorite destination of migrants from different parts of the country. This influx created scarcity in transportation. The tricycles emerged as the only viable means of transportation particularly in the residential areas due to the following: 1) short trips do not require high occupancy vehicles (HOV); 2) road size and width of most residential roads are ideal for tricycles unlike other public vehicles like jeepneys, taxicabs or AUVs; 3) jeepneys, being the close competitors of tricycles, are compelled to have the seats totally filled up each trip to meet the daily profit. Tricycles can be hired at a low price with very short waiting time; 4) tricycles are very flexible means of transport since there is no much regulation and policy.
With these scenarios, public transport commuters will always be dependent on tricycles. It is the first and last mode usually taken. The demand for tricycle will continue to grow despite the slow down of local migration.
In Palawan on the other hand, there were already a total of 14, 742 tricycles registered in 2003 and it is estimated that about 70% of these registered tricycles are in Puerto Princesa. Also In 1996, a report on community greenhouse gases in Puerto Princesa city revealed that 182m tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) was emitted by motor vehicles and around 84% came from motorcycles and tricycles. It is interesting to note however, that based on the tests conducted by ADB in April 2004, the tricycles passed the Philippine emission standards on CO and oxides of nitrogen (NOX).
The study identified the strategic plan divided into two (2) categories: (1) the Traffic and Transport Management, and (2) the Tricycle engine, fuel and lubricants. The Transport and Traffic Management plan is further subdivided into (a) direct interventions, (b) indirect strategies, (c) alternative transport, (d) technology-driven, (e) medium to long-term plan, and (f) policies.
While we cannot disregard that fact that tricycles offer a viable means of transportation particularly in residential areas and provinces and there are advantages to having them plying within these areas as feeder transport, we cannot discount as well the irreversible effects that tricycles generate as regards pollution and traffic problems.
In March 2004, the ADB analysts consulted with the Quezon City government, the Tricycle Regulation Unit (TRU), as well as the Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (TODA) while simultaneous field researches were conducted involving 1,018 tricycle drivers and 531 passengers. Across the city, the average emission levels at 2,000 rpm for 2-stroke engines are 2.24% for carbon monoxide (CO), 2, 547 ppm for hydrocarbon (HC), and 37.8ppm for nitrogen oxide (NOx). At 2,000 of 2-strokes, rpm noise levels measures 85.02dB. In addition, road noise levels measured in areas with tricycle prominence will never pass the maximum standard noise level at 80dB.
The study in Puerto Princesa was conducted in April 2004 together with the City's Planning and Development Office (CPDO), Traffic Management Bureau (TMB) and Environment Office (CENRO). There are 2,848 total members of the TODA provided by the CPDO with 460 taken as respondents.
Of note are the direct interventions that would reduce traffic at the same time increase travel time. More importantly, these will reduce weekly the emission of hydrocarbon (HC) by 888,755,926 ppm. These can be achieved with the foremost recommendation to vigorously implement the Tricycle Vehicle Volume Reduction Program (TVVRP) because not all TODA follow the UVVRP. Tricycle routes should likewise be isolated in areas with more open space. Another policy recommendation is to impose penalty for overloading because there is no ordinance yet that prescribes limits to number of passengers. In effect, daily emission pf HC will be reduced by 6,606.20 ppm per unit.
There are a number of recommendations that the ADB group came up with mostly zeroing in on the passing of laws that would regulate the tricycle sub-sector. Their recommendations were divided into short-term, medium term and long-term. The short-term plan includes the phasing out of units 15 years old and above, requiring the use of exhaust silencers, strict monitoring of lube oil and fuel quality. At present, the practice of tricycle drivers and owners is to over-lubricate their engines and with the absence of standard on fuel-to-oil ratio, HC and smoke emissions are high. The reduction of tricycle volume, strict implementation of tricycle load regulation, and mandatory orientation for tricycle drivers are also part of the short term recommendations. For those that may take a longer time to implement are the medium term recommendations that include the phasing in of advanced technologies like 4-stroke and direct injection 2-stroke engines, more frequent emission check-up in addition to the present annual emission testing, periodic roadside emission testing and apprehension, and isolating the tricycle routes. The long term proposal include alternative transport mode to include environment-friendly vehicles and mass-transport. On top of all these, the study recommends that establishment of an environmental management department for LGUs whose major task is to formulate environmental enhancement programs and implement them.
The results of the studies were presented in workshops to the City Governments of both Quezon City and Puerto Princesa with the members of the TODA of each city as participants. Each strategy was presented to the participants. It was the main purpose of the workshops to present these strategies to get their comments and recommendations in order to validate the results of the study. This in turn will be used to guide concerned agencies in adopting policy measures to effectively address the issues facing the sector. In Quezon City, there were about 80 TODA representatives who attended and some local agencies. In Puerto Princesa, on the other hand, no less than Mayor Hagedorn led the participants and have been attending all the meetings pertaining to the project. Puerto Princesa is fast becoming a popular tourism destination being endowned with natural beauty and rich biodiversity, hence the local leadership is promoting clean and noise free environment. Also present during the workshops were representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In an effort to assess the real scenario of the tricycle industry, other aspects will be looked into like tricycle-related industries - sidecar manufacturers, repacked lube oils and fuels, repair shops, among others.
A Review Committee will be formed to evaluate and validate the policies that may be formulated from the results of the study taking into consideration the recommendations of both Quezon and Puerto Princesa City governments and TODA members.