The dispiriting scenes in our public transport are becoming all too prevalent and all too aggravating. Traffic will become even worse the coming months and years as infrastructure, long needed and long delayed, is now commencing construction. The LRT and MRT lines are said to step up and take over some of the pinch (probably not the right term, it should be “chaos) from the land passenger transportation vehicles i.e. buses, taxis, cars.
Granted that the subsidized prices in the LRT and MRT, unwisely demanded by the public and unwisely granted by past presidents who wanted to be populist, have resulted in the total lack of capital expense provisions for improvement or so it seems because they are not happening, must it also impinge on standard day-today operations? Is there no relief in sight? As the ridership increases, the cars become less because of maintenance problems. The result is hellish waiting, crowding and resulting anti-social behavior by those affected. Is it too much to ask that escalators be kept running, that elevators work and the restrooms be comfortable? Apparently it is. Do you need capital expenditure for that or should it not fall under “Maintenance?”
The DOTC is now the government agency that most persecutes the public. From the way the LRT and MRT are run, to the state of our airports (explain Tacloban airport BEFORE Yolanda, please) to the inept handling of new projects via failed bids, controversial decisions, and more. I do not have time to incense myself by looking for the details but believe me, they are there.
I have not ridden the LRT or MRT in years. I am pretty fit but I am sure an accident will occur from a falling billboard (allowed near the tracks), to an electrical fire (many times), a computer glitch (leaving thousands grounded), maybe asphyxiation from a crowded car or falling down the unbelievably steep stairs by accidentally being pushed, or maybe having a heart attack on a hot day when there are no elevators or escalators, just those interminable steps leading to steep heights.
But I do have a first hand report from my youngest son which I attach. Judge for yourself if we haven’t got a chance to be called “the worst LRT and MRT systems in the world.” Here it is:
“In my 4 ½ years working downtown in Manila, I commuted to and from work daily taking two trains (LRT 2 from Cubao to Recto and LRT 1 from Doroteo Jose to Central Station).
“During the entire period, I never saw any of the elevators in any LRT 2 station functioning. Even if they seemed relatively new, they were idle. Wheelchair-bound passengers would have to be assisted by security guards down the escalators (when these were working). Airconditioning is iffy and on a hot day when it does not work, you are in an oven.
“Westbound trains on the LRT 2 from 7am to 10am are packed to capacity and beyond. Eastbound trains from 4 pm starting at Recto Station are the same. This station is so busy that almost every single time I arrive at the platform I wait and let all the passengers board the oncoming train and I then wait for the next one so that I am in the front and center of the line and able to enter the coach first and find a seat. Almost every single time every seat is taken by the time the train leaves Recto. Thus, one can imagine how many people travel to this station yet the escalator on the ground floor is wrecked and has been unrepaired for almost two years.
On LRT 1 since about three months ago all four escalators in the Doroteo Jose station have not been functioning. You need to climb four flights of stairs, I am young enough not to mind. But for an elderly person on a hot day in the dry season it could be fatal.
And neither of the two elevators in these station have worked in the last two years. In fact I know of no elevator in any LRT 1, LRT 2 or MRT that is functional.
It is not atypical for me to be delayed as much as an hour waiting to be able to board a southbound train from Doroteo Jose to Central Station, a mere two stations away. Often, trains are few and far between with long intervals and when one arrives it is almost too packed to board. On the way home from Central Station on or before 5, 6 or 7pm, it is not atypical for me to wait an hour and a half to be able to board a train bound for Doroteo Jose. It got so bad that I would pay my Intramuros pedicab driver to take me to Binondo, wait while I ate dinner and then bring me to the Recto Station. It costs me more but in almost every instance I save more than an hour.
This is the worst rail service in the Philippines (and that is saying something after the above). Hellish would be a kind adjective. I avoid it at all possible cost. Even a simple journey from Taft to Ayala, to exit the train you need to have the skills and strength of a rugby player (or an ex-wrestler like me, but I don’t think wrestling should take place in a train). People here are less than polite as trains are so packed to the breaking point and the timing of the trips is infrequent at best.” End of Report (No comment on the restrooms, he probably did not have the courage to try them).
My son lives in Quezon City which is in Metro Manila and relatively in the center of the city. Think of those who live farther away, think of those who cannot afford to get a pedicab driver to wait while they have dinner and then try another station. Think of elderly people and pregnant women, of children, of people with disabilities, of people carrying bags, people who are human beings wanting to be treated as human beings.
Whoever is in charge including the DOTC Secretary and all his staff, (where the buck has to stop), take a ride on whichever train of your choice now that summer is upon us. Experience your handiwork.