THE Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Monday that it is studying the proposal of San Miguel Corp.’s Universal LRT Corp. (ULC) to build a second common station at SM North EDSA that would connect Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and the future MRT-7.
DOTC Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya told reporters they are considering the proposal since the awarding of the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Cavite Extension (Cavex) project is being held up by a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court over the issue of the common station.
The TRO prevents the DOTC from awarding the project to winning bidder Light Rail Manila Consortium (LMRC) — composed of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp. — in response to a motion filed by SM Prime Holdings Inc.
SM Prime said the common station project contradicts an earlier contract between SM Prime and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) which provides that the common station be built beside SM North Edsa.
DOTC wants the common station built at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City, which is owned by the Ayala group.
“Nasa Supreme Court pa rin yun [It is still with the Supreme Court],” Abaya said.
He said the proponent of MRT-7 “came to us with a certain proposal, we showed it to LMRC, so we’re awaiting that decision,” he said.
“Another common station, sa may [near]SM [North EDSA]. But they’re saying kaya naman nila i-absorb kasi ang fee [they can afford to absorb the fee]. We’re studying it now,” Abaya said.
“Well, hinihintay namin yung pagbalik sa amin ng LMRC. Mukhang pupwede rin naman so we’ll see. Mukhang may similar solution din sila, so kailangan i-reconcile [We are waiting for LMRC to come back to us. It looks like it might work, so we’ll see. It looks like they also have a similar solution, so we will need to reconcile].”
SMC, through unit San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC), is part owner of ULC, which proposed to build the railway that will run from EDSA corner North Avenue in Quezon City all the way to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
DOTC said last month that TriNoma was the “slightly better” location for the common station project, based on the results of an initial study conducted by a Japanese group. However, he did not identify the Japanese group.
The P1.4-billion common station is part of LRT’s North Extension Project, which is expected to help alleviate the public transport shortage in Metro Manila.
LRT 1 currently runs from Baclaran to Roosevelt in Quezon City, while MRT 3 runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City.
The planned MRT 7 will begin at Tala, Caloocan City, passing through Lagro, Fairview, Novaliches, Batasan, Diliman, and Philcoa, before ending at the planned common station at EDSA and North Avenue. The railway will serve an estimated two million commuters in the northern parts of Quezon City and Caloocan City.
LRMC, the lone bidder for the LRT 1 Cavex project, had offered to pay the government a concession premium of P9.35 billion for the right to build, operate, and manage the new rail line.
The Cavite or South Extension Project will extend the existing LRT Line 1, which covers 21 stations from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in Pasay City. The Cavex will extend the service line by 11.7 kilometers, covering 10 more stations that will pass through the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas up to Bacoor, Cavite.