• Alvarez junks common station; MAP appeals

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    The House of Representatives will not allocate any funding for the common station that will link Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) and the Light Railway Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) as envisioned by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), according to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

    Alvarez was referring to the P2.78 billion common station located at the intersection of EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City, the subject of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, San Miguel Corp., North Triangle Depot Commercial Corporation -Ayala Corporation, Light Rail Manila Corporation and SM Prime Holdings, Inc.

    The construction of the station is supposed to start in December this year and is supposed to be operational by April 2019.

    “No, we won’t fund that because it would be disadvantageous to the government. The 2009 plan should be the one to be implemented because that model is the most convenient to the user,” Alvarez said, referring to the P1.4 billion common station which was a product of a MOA between the then Department of Transportation and Communications and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. inked in September 2009.

    Former Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya scrapped the project and sought its relocation beside Trinoma.
    SM Prime Holdings, however, secures a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Abaya’s plan because it had paid the government P200 million for naming rights.

    “With this new common station, the commuters will still have long walks. We can’t go for that because commuters are in a hurry, especially in the morning so that they won’t be late for work. At the end of the day,
    they would want to immediately reach home because they are already tired. Implementing the 2009 model is common sense, so I can’t understand why DOTr is pushing for this new one, ” Alvarez pointed out.

    Various business groups, however, are in favor of the P2.78 billion common station and its expeditious completion because it stands to serve at least 1.5 million commuters.

    The business groups argued that the P2.78 billion common station is better than the first station planned because it has a bigger floor area — 13,700 square meters— and provides double tracks for reliability and efficiency of rail operations.

    “We urge the expeditious completion of the common train station to link the LRT1, MRT3 and the ongoing MRT7 rail commuter lines in a location that will conveniently serve the expected 1.5 million commuters. We fully support the MOA executed among the train operators of LRT1, MRT3 and MRT7 and the Department of Transportation (DOTr),” the business groups said in a joint statement.

    The statement was issued by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Australia-new Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc.; Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines; IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines; Japanese Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Makati Business Club; Management Association of the Philippines; Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.; Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc.

    “The common station impasse must be finally solved. Now that all stakeholders from the public and private sectors have agreed on a solution, all remaining hindrances must be quickly set aside to clear the way for its speedy execution,” the business groups said. “This hub will serve and be for the common benefit of the over a million daily commuters in the three train lines.”

    The business groups are also agreeable that certain areas are assigned to the private stakeholders and concessionaires.

    The DOTr will shoulder the construction of Area A, while its operation, maintenance and development will be split between LRMC for LRT-1 and DOTr for MRT-3. The construction, operations, maintenance and development of Area B, on the other hand, will be on the NTDCC—an affiliate of Ayala Land Inc.

    Lastly, Area C’s construction, operation, maintenance, and development will be courtesy of San Miguel.

    “The government, by undertaking the common station and underwriting its cost, would facilitate the implementation of this long delayed project. By doing so, it would be a judicious investment of taxpayer funds on a vital mass transportation facility to serve train commuters,” the business groups said.

    “Going forward, we trust the project will be undertaken with transparency and adherence to required bidding rules and procedures to secure the most qualified contractor and best possible cost. We recommend the use of faster and less traffic-disruptive construction method, such as pre-cast concrete sections for the viaduct as used in similar projects abroad,” they added.

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