The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said mass transit system is the solution to the worsening traffic problem that emerges as a consequence of a growing economy in hugely populated urban areas such as Metro Manila.
The DOTC said the P288-billion North-South Railway project aims precisely to improve the efficiency of land transportation capacity in the Philippine capital metropolis and provide a more environmentally sustainable mode of transport for its people.
“For a mega city like Manila, clearly a consequence of a growing economy is the growing capacity of our people to own their own vehicles — clearly, with our (kind of) traffic, that is not the way to go,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters.
“And the solution to that natural tendency is to develop mass transit systems. Thus, the government is investing in rails, in BRTs, and likewise reforming the bus system,” he said.
“As we are now, there is a right mix. Eighty percent of our riding public really use public transportation, 20 percent use private cars. However, we are all in smaller modes like jeepneys, tricycles and Uvs (utility vehicles). The direction is to migrate the smaller PUVs (public utility vehicles) to mass transport systems and eventually migrate private owners into mass transit systems.”
On Tuesday, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said there are two projects approved under the North-South Railway masterplan. First is Phase 1 of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project, which the DOTC will implement, involving the construction of a 36.7-kilometer narrow-gauge elevated commuter railway from Malolos to Tutuban.
The NSCR Phase 1 will also use the Philippine National Railway’s (PNR) right-of-way with 10 stations and a depot in Valenzuela city. The project’s total estimated cost is P117.30 billion and has been scheduled for implementation from 2015 with a 35-year operation period starting 2020.
Another is the North-South Railway Project-South Line, a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project of the DOTC, which costs an estimated P170.70 billion. This project consists of commuter railway operations between Tutuban and Calamba, Laguna. It also includes a long-haul railway operation between Tutuban and Legaspi, Albay and on the branch line between Calamba and Batangas and an extension between Legaspi and Matnog.
“When you see the project on Matnog Sorsogon, hopefully it would be an inclusive project on our part, Malolos-Tutuban, this whole north-south rails stretches from as far north as Cagayan Isabela and as far down south in Matnog, Sorsogon,” Abaya said.
“What we presented yesterday at the NEDA Board (meeting) were Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 3 has not yet been presented,” he added.