The elevated track of what is colloquially known as the UP Diliman monorail along the University Avenue has been a familiar sight to me for quite some time now. As someone who frequents the university, I saw how workers built it from the ground up. The idea of having a train system within a campus really fascinates me. Where else in the world can you see or find such?
In December 2012, the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) System came to life when university officials boarded its coaches for an initial test run. On that day, history was made. Finally, the first Filipino-develop train is now up and running.
The AGT made it on the local news once again in April 2013, when President Benigno Aquino hopped aboard the train for a test run. But the president was not impressed by the whole experience of riding a train developed by local engineers as he found the ride “bumpy.”
At that time, I thought the whole train project was just for show or for display. Whenever I go to the university, I always see it and nothing seems to happening. There was a point when I thought the project was shelved after the president’s not-so-good comments.
Little did I know that I was in for a big surprise when I went to the university last December 18 for the annual UP Diliman Lantern Parade.
Boarding the train
As the jeep I was on passed by the College of Fine Arts, I saw a sign saying that there was a public demonstration of the AGT happening that day. I was supposed to meet my friends in Palma Hall that afternoon. But right after reading that sign, I immediately got off the jeep. (Besides, my friends were still on their way to UP.) I just couldn’t pass up on that opportunity.
As I reached the ticketing station, I was handed a smart card ticket, a brochure explaining the AGT system and an evaluation form. Because the train is still on its test run, I was also asked to sign a waiver.
To enter the platform area, I just tapped the smart card on the sensor of the turnstile.
As I was waiting for the train, I took a seat and started filling out the evaluation form. “I am so glad to be part of our country’s public transportation history,” I wrote on the comments section.
I initially thought that the AGT’s test run was exclusively for VIPs. Aside from the university and government officials, I haven’t heard of anyone who has tried boarding the train prior to the public demonstration that day. So just imagine how ecstatic I was the entire time I was there.
It didn’t take long before the train reached the station. At last, I was on board the first Filipino-made train.
Dream Come True
Riding the AGT was a dream come true for me.
The ride was indeed bumpy, as the president observed. But that didn’t bother me at all. I guess I was just really happy to be one of the privileged few to experience boarding the train during that public demonstration. Mind you, it was a one-time public demonstration (as far as I know) and I am not sure when is the next one.
“Hey, I’m part of our country’s public transportation history. [I] rode the UP monorail, the first Filipino-developed train, earlier,” I even posted on social media alongside a photo of the smart card ticket.
The train is real and it is moving! And now it can be said that developing a train locally—from conceptualization to actual construction—is possible.
Get to know more about the UP Diliman AGT system by reading: “9 Things You Must Know About the UP Diliman Train“