THE Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has vowed to provide better Metrorail Transit 3 (MRT3) service next year including fewer service disruptions and train arrival delays in exchange for the P6.6-billion budget it is requesting Congress.
The DOTC is asking for a total of P52.9-billion budget for 2015 and the P6.6 billion will be allotted to MRT 3– P1.92 billion for “operation and maintenance” and P4.66 billion as “subsidy for MRT 3.”
In exchange for the amount, the DOTC in its “promissory note” attached to its budget proposal, vowed to lessen service disruptions or what it called “passenger unloading incidents” and try to limit them to under 300 for the entire 2015 or not more than four cases per week.
MRT 3 service disruptions are a frequent occurrence but most of the incidents are easily addressed.
But there were also some major incidents that even caused injury to passengers like what happened on Wednesday wherein 34 passengers were hurt after a train overshot the tracks along MRT 3 Taft Avenue station in Pasay City (Metro Manila) and crashed into a barrier.
Last March 26, 10 passengers were hurt when a southbound MRT 3 train abruptly stopped, causing passengers to lose their balance.
Other incidents included a short-circuit that caused fire in one MRT coach at Kamuning Station in November 2012 and a shutdown of MRT operations in October 2013.
The DOTC also promised to reduce transfer time from 10 minutes to five minutes and decrease its load factor by 8 percent.
It is also targeting an average speed of 48 kilometers per hour and a 90 percent on-time schedule for 2015.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said granting of the DOTC proposed budget will depend on its capability to deliver on its promises.
He added that the Senate would assess, when it hears the department’s 2015 budget, if the MRT 3 was capable of achieving its targets.
“I think the budget hearings to be called by the Senate will be some sort of diagnostics session on what ails [MRT 3] and what its cures will be,” Recto said.
The DOTC for this year got P4.09 billion as subsidy to the MRT and P1.81 billion for its operation and maintenance.
A promise that the DOTC made to Congress last year was increasing rail speed by 48 kilometers per hour.
A commuter group also on Friday staged a protest rally in front of the DOTC in Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) to demand accountability for the derailment of an MRT 3 train on Wednesday.
The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (Riles) Network said DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya, MRT Officer-In-Charge Honorito Chaneco and maintenance contractor Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT Global) should be held criminally liable for what happened.
“We hold the Aquino government, Secretary Abaya and OIC Chaneco criminally liable for their gross neglect of the country’s elevated railway system that has endangered the lives of MRT commuters. In other countries, accidents like this trigger resignations and criminal charges,” Sammy Malunes, the group’s spokesman, said.
The incident, which can be considered as the “worst accident in MRT history,” was a result of the private contractors’ underspending and profiteering schemes and by the government’s willful abandonment of the country’s public transport system, according to the group.
The network also demanded abrogation of allegedly onerous contracts that the government entered into with foreign and local investors and said the government should take over the entire operation of MRT 3.
WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER