• No easing MRT passengers’ daily struggles until 2016

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    THE daily hardships endured by thousands of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) commuters will not be eased even with the completion of the delivery of new train coaches by 2016.

    This is because the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has no plans yet to procure additional trains despite the expected increase of passenger volume in 2016, according to Sen. Francis Escudero.

    “If we look at the record of the MRT, it took them 10 years before they were able to procure new train coaches and if it took them that long they should start another procurement process of new coaches now,” Escudero told reporters after the inquiry held by the Senate finance committee on Monday.

    He was referring to the contract awarded to Chinese firm Dalian for the delivery of 48 train cars that will start in February 2015.

    Dalian will deliver three train cars per month until 2016.

    The MRT ferries 560,000 passengers daily, higher than its 540,000 ridership capability.

    During the hearing, MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol noted that shortage of trains was felt as early as 2004 and 2005 when the average ridership exceeded 400,000 per day, way beyond the rail’s capacity of 320,000.

    “So that simply means that during that time, the management and the owners of MRT 3 should have procured additional trains for the convenience of the passengers,” Vitangcol said.

    He claimed that it was only when the Aquino administration assumed office that the procurement for additional trains pushed through.

    But when Escudero asked if the DOTC already started its procurement process, Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco, admitted that they have not.

    The DOTC had projected that MRT passenger volume could reach an average of 750,000 to 900,000 daily from 2017 to 2019.

    Escudero told Limcaoco to start the procurement process right away.

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