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Philippines Transportation
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Jeepney, customized jeep used extensively for public transportation
    Courtesy Robert L. Worden


    Figure 7. Transportation System, 1991

    In 1988 there were 157,000 kilometers of roads, 26,000 of which were designated national (arterial) roads. Somewhat less than 50 percent of national roads were all-weather. The PanPhilippine Highway, also called the Maharlika Highway, running from Laoag City in Ilocos Norte to Zamboanga City at the southwest tip of Mindanao, was the country's main trunk road (see fig. 7). The highway passed through twenty-one provinces. In the 1980s, the national road system increased by 10 percent, and the portion that was surfaced with asphalt or concrete increased by 20 percent. The planning target for 1992 called for 100 percent of arterial roads to be all-weather, and 95 percent to be paved. Local roads, however, were allowed to deteriorate. The condition of many roads was poor because of low design standards, substandard construction, inadequate maintenance, and damage from over-loaded vehicles. A program of rehabilitation and improvement of the local road system was part of the plan objectives.

    In 1988, 1.3 million motor vehicles were registered with the Bureau of Land Transportation. About 22 percent were motorcycles; 30 percent were private automobiles, and 38 percent were utility vehicles. A large number of the utility vehicles were jeepneys, jeeps converted for hire to carry passengers. In the late 1980s, Metro Manila experienced a combination of heavy traffic congestion and a shortage of transportation, reflecting an increasing number of private automobiles and an insufficient number of public conveyance vehicles. A 1989 estimate indicated a shortage of 3,200 buses and 21,700 jeepneys in the Manila area, and many of the taxis and buses in Metro Manila were very old.

    In 1991 there were two international airports: Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Mactan International Airport near Cebu City. Slightly over 1 million visitors arrived in the Philippines by air in 1988. About half of the national airports were served by the main domestic and international carrier, Philippine Air Lines. No additional airport construction was anticipated in the Medium-Term Development Plan, 1987-92. Thereafter, Manila's international airport, which is too small to handle expected increases in air traffic, would need to be relocated. During the talks between the United States and the Philippines in 1990, concerning the future of the two major United States military facilities in the Philippines, there was public discussion of relocating the international airport to the United States facility, Clark Air Base and making Ninoy Aquino a domestic airport.

    There was a network of 622 public and 314 private seaports in the Philippine archipelago in the late 1980s. Six ports--Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, and Davao handled approximately 80 percent of public port traffic. In 1988 a major construction project was underway at the Manila International Container Terminal. There was an ongoing series of port improvement projects, and plans for a fishing port program and a program to develop roll-on-roll-off capacity in order to link sea and road transportation systems.

    In 1987 there were more than 3,000 passenger and cargo ships in the interisland shipping industry, with a total registered cargo tonnage of 417,500 tons. The ships accounted for about 85 percent of interisland cargo movements and nearly 10 percent of passenger-kilometers traveled nationwide. Somewhat less than one-third of the ships were liner vessels; the remainder were tramp ships. Liner ships were generally imported secondhand from Japan and in 1987 had an average age of about nineteen years. Although the industry was highly regulated, it was criticized for moving goods slowly and inefficiently and for safety violations, particularly overloading passengers during peak periods of travel.

    The Philippines in 1990 had one main railroad line running north out of Manila 266 kilometers to San Fernando City in La Union Province and 474 kilometers south to Legaspi City in Albay Province. The system had deteriorated over the years, with utilization declining continuously to a tenth of the passenger traffic and a twentieth of the freight carried in 1960. In the first 10 months of 1990, the railroad carried 30,000 tons of freight, down from 48,000 in 1989. During the same period, passenger service turned around, however, climbing from 210 million passenger-kilometers in 1989 to 226 million in 1990.

    The Philippine National Railroad began a project in 1990-91 to upgrade its southern track system, utilizing a P1.2 billion loan from Japan. When completed in 1993, travel time from Manila to Bicol would be cut substantially.

    In 1984 a Light Rail Transit system began operation in Metro Manila running from Baclaran in the south to Monumento in the North. The fifteen-kilometer system provided some relief from Metro Manila's highly congested traffic network.

    Data as of June 1991

    NOTE: The information regarding Philippines on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Philippines Transportation information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Philippines Transportation should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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