Commuters bear brunt of transport row

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AS the legal dispute between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the owners of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 over the purchase of new coaches thickens, commuters continue to bear the brunt of the squabble.

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Long queues have been experienced in various MRT stations such as North Avenue, Quezon Avenue and Kamuning in Quezon City, EDSA Rotonda in Pasay City and Guadalupe in Makati City during rush hours on weekdays.

DOTC Spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said with the delay in the purchase of new additional light railway vehicles (LRVs), passengers will continue to suffer long queues.

However, Robert John Sobrepeña, former Chairman of Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), the owner of MRT3, said they are now willing to iron out their conflict with DOTC as they did not waive their right of first refusal for the purchase of brand new additional trains.

“Our offer to supply brand new LRVs to the DOTC is still valid and existing,” he told Presiding Judge Joselito Villarosa of the Makati RTC branch 66.

Sobrepeña said they started proposing for the improvement of the MRT3 system, which include the purchase of additional brand new trains, in 2000.

He added that the MRTC proposal to buy new trains was approved in 2000 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Our offer with DOTC was to supply brand new trains, everything brand new including the system capacity expansion,” Sobrepeña said.

He said despite several attempts the government did not immediately accept their offer as it waited for a “triggering event.”

“The triggering event is that the MRT3 should reach 350,000 passengers everyday because that is the maximum limit of the ridership capacity,” he added.

When the triggering event was reached in 2003, Sobrepeña said this gave them the green light to proceed with the proposal in 2004 for the capacity expansion, and improvement of the MRT3 signaling system.

The DOTC, in turn, agreed and even formed a technical working team to study the MRTc’s offer, according to Sobrepeña.

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