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 The hybrid electric road train (ERT) project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will start roadworthiness tests in Clark Field in Pampanga next month.

Officials said the tests would determine if the ERT would be a viable transport alternative before it is rolled out in Metro Manila’s major roadways.

Designed by Filipino engineers and made with locally available parts, the 40-meter long train-like bus is an alternative means of transportation and is being touted by the DOST as a possible answer to the mass transportation problem that is reaching crisis levels, especially in Metro Manila.

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo estimated the road train can serve 650,000 commuters when fully implemented.

Montejo, however, said the ERT may have to go through a long and tedious process of testing through a period of two to three years before it can be declared safe for the riding public.

ERT project leader Rio Pagtalunan, however, said the roadworthiness test phase will not last long, especially if no major design changes are found to be necessary.

The ERT can run with a maximum speed of 50 kph. It is mainly powered by hybrid diesel fuel and electric-powered battery.

Moreover, the train is designed to be energy-efficient, which means it does not need electricity and suspended cables to operate.

“This newest Filipino innovation also produces less smoke emission compared with existing mass transport vehicles, making it an eco-friendly mode of transport,” the DOST said.

Aside from the ERT project, the DOST is also pursuing an ambitious project to develop an Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) system inside the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City and inside their central office complex in Bicutan, Taguig City.

The AGT adopts a radial wheel tire technology for a rail line system.