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Pres. Aquino boards AGT prototype for a test run

(April 19)—It was a “bumpy ride.”

This was how President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was reported to have described his ride on the prototype Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) System during the demonstration run of its second prototype at its test site beside the College of Fine Arts at UP Diliman on April 15.

The AGT System is a flagship project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in collaboration with UP. It has been designed to serve as an alternative transport system to address the worsening vehicular traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

According to the DOST, it is considered as the first Filipino-developed train, with its prototype in UP Diliman “being developed into a fully-automated or driverless people mover.” The project was created after President Aquino’s 2011 State of the Nation Address announcing a research and development collaboration between DOST and UP to produce “a new train system.”

The first prototype is located in the DOST Bicutan Complex, Taguig City with a track length of 150 meters.

Joining  Aquino at the test run were Engr. Jose Mario G. Montejo, DOST secretary; Arnel Paciano D. Casanova Esq., Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer; Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education and UP Board of Regents; Dr. Amelia P. Guevara, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development; Engr. Raymund E. Liboro, DOST assistant secretary; Atty. Vida Soraya S. Verzosa, legal consultant of DOST and other distinguished guests.

Also present were UP officials led by UP President Alfredo E. Pascual and UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma.

Responding to the president’s comment, Montejo was reported to have assured the president that the “kinks will be dealt with” in the AGT’s third prototype.

According to Montejo, not only can the AGT System ease traffic congestion but “developing our own version costs less than buying a train from abroad. That is why we recommend the AGT especially to the already urbanized LGUs. Upon perfecting the system, we can easily replicate the AGT and modify it according to our local needs—its materials are all locally available. We also contribute to the development of Filipino capabilities in transportation technology.”

The environment-friendly and emission-free prototype train has an elevation of 6.1 meters, is fully automated, driverless and powered by electricity similar to AGTs and other elevated carriers in other countries and rail transit systems in Manila. To fine-tune the train’s speed, power, controls and stress systems, a 465-meter concrete guideway or test track with a 25-meter radius curve in the middle was built inside the UPD campus that stretched from Jacinto Street to C.P. Garcia Avenue near the Commission on Higher Education building.

The AGT project is a collaboration between the DOST and UP through a Memorandum of Agreement signed on December 6, 2010.—H.C.P. with reports from George Robert Valencia III of the Department of Science and Technology