THE Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a public entity being pilloried for its poor services, needs to implement reforms to appease an angry public. Commuters hope to see its management making an honest effort to make the overhead trains a smooth and comfortable ride. What they see posted on the social media, instead, are its managers and employees partying and having a good time.
The LRTA could not afford to be impervious to the feelings of its customers. Many people were dismayed that officers and employees could afford to have fun as they did during the LRTA’s 35th anniversary at the Manila Grand Hotel in Sta. Cruz, Manila on July 10. During the merry-making, their customers stood on long queues at the stations waiting for rides on trains with leaking roofs.
The officers must have devoted some time to practice and use their talents to come up with entertainment for a fun-filled event. Dressed in their “Roaring 20s” costumes to revive the spirit of that era, employees were promised big raffle prizes by the organizers.
“For optimum fun and maximum enjoyment, part of the highlight of this celebration is the ‘LRTA’s Got Talent,’ where employees can showcase their unique talents and abilities, as well as the ‘Best in the 1920s Costume Contest,” said LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco, in a memorandum to employees.
“Attendees will be treated to a night of entertainment and amusement since there are cool gimmicks and lots of exciting raffle prizes to be drawn,” Chaneco promised.
Some people wonder if Chaneco gave the riding public any thought in the planning of the celebration. After all, the LRTA would not be celebrating 35 years of operations without the support of the riding public.
Instead of receiving congratulatory messages from well-wishers, the LRTA got slammed for spending money on such a lavish party while the trains desperately and urgently needed rehabilitation. Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said the LRTA staff should have marked the occasion with a simple ceremony and spent the money on a review and evaluation of the train system, which suffers from maintenance and operation lapses.
“As administrators, they should give the highest priority to the operations of the train system and the welfare of the commuters. With his ‘20s inspired party, it’s as if Chaneco is rewarding himself for the inefficiency of his administration,” Reyes said.
Considering its significant impact on our economy and the way of life in the city, the LRTA operation should be given top priority by the government. The LRTA needs a good administrator who can make the trains run efficiently and be more sensitive to the needs of the riding public.
To be fair to Chaneco and the LRTA, some progress has actually been made, even though some obvious problems persist. It has been reported that several long stretches of track have been replaced, providing a quieter, safer ride; the new automatic ticketing system has been installed in most stations and will be operational soon; and passengers have noted that some efforts to alleviate overcrowding – such as dispatching empty trains to particularly busy stations – are being applied.
On that basis, the LRTA probably feels its employees are entitled to a bit of diversion, and perhaps they are. But the job is far from done. Making a public display of its staff party was highly inconsiderate to the public who quite rightly believe the LRTA should consider the welfare of the commuters first before they can think of having fun. Any form of management indiscretion would deal on the people a double whammy of poor services and insensitivity to calls for reforms.
Everyday we hear complaints of commuters about the difficulties they encounter in taking the train. So they ask the question: Why is the LRTA having fun?
We throw the question at Chaneco. We want to see smiles on passengers’ faces. We want the commuters to experience convenience, let alone fun, riding on the trains and then the employees can start making merry.