THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation (DoTr) said it recently endorsed a project proposal to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the construction of a cable car transit system between the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2’s Santolan Station in Marikina City and Barangay Rosario in Pasig City.

“The feasibility study as well as the other required studies by NEDA were completed by the French consultants. The project was endorsed by DoTr to NEDA for evaluation and approval on March 16, 2021,” Transportation Undersecretary for Finance Garry V. de Guzman said in a phone message to BusinessWorld on March 30.

The feasibility study for the Metro Manila urban cable car project was funded by the government of France, according to a copy of the project briefing document provided by Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran to BusinessWorld on Friday last week.

The selected alignment spans 4.5 kilometers and mostly follows the Marikina River profile, according to the document. It starts from LRT Line-2 Santolan Station and proceeds southward to Ortigas Avenue in Rosario, Pasig.

Four more sites for stations were identified between LRT-2 Santolan Station and Rosario: Quezon City’s Libis and Eastwood and Pasig City’s Santolan and Manggahan.

The proposed technology for the line is a monocable detachable gondola lift with closed cabins seating 10 each.

“Distances between towers can reach up to 250 meters to 300 meters depending on the topography, height of the towers, and spacing of cabins,” the DoTr said.

The project is expected to “play a major role in the development of an efficient public transport system” in Metro Manila.

“It is envisaged as an attractive mass transport option for the riding public but not necessarily substitutes for a railway system, particularly on its ridership capacity,” the DoTr said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade had an online meeting with French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz on March 29. They discussed programs, projects, and initiatives the Philippines and France can jointly explore, his department said in a statement.

“Secretary Tugade… put forth the plan of the department to partner with the French Government for the realization of the Urban Cable Car Project,” the DoTr added.

Asked to comment, transport expert Rene S. Santiago said by telephone: “There is nothing wrong per se with cable cars, but the choice of place is an important consideration as well as how it is going to be operated and maintained.”

“If the government operates and maintains a cable car whether in Boracay, Metro Manila or Baguio without a private (entity), you kiss it goodbye. Let’s call it ‘build and forget…’ because of our institutional weakness. Our government has the reverse Midas touch. Whatever they touch in terms of operations and maintenance becomes garbage in the air,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin