THE government will be taking over the maintenance of Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3), whose poor services have been feared to be endangering its tens of thousands of riders daily.
“There are too many hitches. There is an alarming increase in the number of glitches,” Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) admitted on Monday.
He explained that the glaring inefficiency of the current maintenance provider, APT Global Inc., prompted him to issue a special order creating a maintenance transition team composed of MRT 3 and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) personnel.
This team will be working side by side with APT Global for the maintenance of the train system.
“We will be shadowing the maintenance provider. The Bids and Awards Committee issued a resolution allowing the extension of the services of the current maintenance provider. It is up to the government to decide when it takes over. We will exercise such right,” Abaya said in a news briefing.
He noted that the benchmark in determining whether a company is able to provide the needed maintenance of the line is the list of its penalties.
“We are in the process of reconciling the billing period of penalties. In the first six months of the year, APT Global incurred P27.1 million in penalties. Another P18 million was incurred in one single day during the second half. So the second half will definitely surpass the P27 million in the first half,” Abaya said, referring to the half-day suspension of the MRT 3’s operations last month because of failure of an obsolete communications system.
“It is a good opportunity for us to learn how to maintain MRT 3. All arguments are on our side on the shadowing scheme,” he added.
The 15-year-old rapid rail transit was hit by problems recently.
Last week, a coach going south ran with its doors open.
Last month, several passengers were injured when a train coach overshot the Taft Avenue station in Pasay City and crashed into a street barrier.
On decongesting the train system, Abaya said the government procured early this year 48 additional light rail vehicles from Chinese firm Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is expected to receive 13 coaches from the manufacturer to boost the capacity of the system by a sixth or by roughly 59,000 more daily passengers.
Abaya said the expansion project will increase the capacity of the line to 880,000 daily passengers or 66 percent more than the current 350,000 commuters per day.
The project is expected to be completed by 2016.
The government is planning to take over the railway system by 2016, earmarking roughly P54 billion for the buy-out of the corporate owner of the line.
Ahead of the buy-out plan, it has earmarked a P6.6-billion subsidy for the railway line for 2015.
“We will apply this [subsidy]regardless of the buy-out,” Abaya said.