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Home Featured Columns Messed-up mass transport system

Messed-up mass transport system


Tita Valderama
Tita C. Valderama

You have to get used to being pushed, shoved, and squeezed when you take any of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) or Metro Rail Transit (MRT) lines.

If you are not ready to have your crisp-ironed clothes creased and wrinkled, and your new-styled hair disheveled when you get out of the overcrowded coach, you better stay away from the elevated trains.

The MRT and LRT lines offer rapid transport of passengers from one end to the other. But you cannot expect convenience at the same time, particularly during the morning and early evening rush hours.

LRT 1’s crowd control scheme during the morning peak hours, from 6am to 9am, has made commuting via the rail system more inconvenient because of the longer waiting time in line that usually takes 30 minutes to one hour before the passenger gets to the platform area.

Senior citizens, physically disabled, pregnant, and passengers with children in tow are exempt from the long queues though.

But the LRT management said limiting the number of passengers at the platform paid area was meant to reduce the pinning, pushing, and shoving to get inside the train coaches.

Getting in and out of the train requires special skills in elbowing other passengers aside. Women have to learn the art of shielding or covering their bosoms, too, from getting pinned as they squeeze their way inside the train. We’ve heard stories about sex perverts on the loose on the trains.

Riding the LRT or MRT is far from being comfortable, unless you do so in mid-morning or mid-afternoon off-peak hours when passenger traffic is low.

The 15-kilometer elevated LRT 1 services the Taft Avenue – Rizal Avenue route between Baclaran, Pasay City and Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City. It was recognized as the first LRT system in Southeast Asia when it started operations in 1984.

MRT 3 is a 17-kilometer rail line that runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, traversing EDSA.

LRT 2, that used to be called Megatren, is a 13.8-kilometer line that traverses five cities in Metro Manila —Pasig, Marikina, Quezon, San Juan, and Manila – along Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue.

The plan of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to acquire 48 brand new trains over the next three years to add to MRT3’s 73 Czech-made coaches would certainly cut waiting time at stations and help decongest passenger traffic.

The earlier the Makati City Regional Trial Court settles the dispute between DOTC and Metro Rail Transit Corp. on the acquisition of new trains from China’s CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co., the better for the riding public.

On February 4, Makati City RTC Branch 66 Presiding Judge Joselito Villarosa issued a 20-day temporary restraining order against the DOTC and granted MRTC’s petition to stop implementing the P3.77-billion contract for the MRT 3’s expansion project.

According to the DOTC, MRT 3 has been serving 560,000 passengers daily, or almost double the original designed capacity of 350,000.

LRT 1 is designed to transport 560,000 passengers a day but has an actual average ridership of 530,000. LRT 2 has a design capacity of 472,000 passengers but has an actual ridership of 220,000. To date, the LRT 1 has already ferried 3.5 billion passengers, LRT 2,500 million, and MRT 3, 1.88 billion.

In the last 10 years, the government subsidy to LRT and MRT has reached P75 billion. Plans to raise fare rates at the mass transport systems have been delayed in deference to strong public opposition. The government subsidizes a passenger of LRT and MRT at a rate of P20 and P42, respectively.

Based on their 2012 financial records, the LRTA had a deficit of P4.71 billion, while MRT-3’s stood at P7.25 billion.

Passengers of LRT 1 and 2 are supposed to be charged an average of P34.74 each. But passengers only pay an average of P14.28 with the government paying the remaining P20.46, or 59 percent of the fare. Similarly, passengers of MRT 3 should be charged P53.96 per trip, but they are only charged an average of P12.40 with the government shouldering the remaining P41.56, which translates to 77 percent of the fare.

Under the proposed fare matrix, passengers will be charged P11 boarding fee plus P1 per kilometer traveled. Currently, an LRT 1 ride from Baclaran, Pasay to Roosevelt in Quezon City costs P20 while the longest LRT 2 ride from Recto, Manila to Santolan, Pasig costs P15. The end-to-end trip at the MRT 3 from Taft Avenue, Pasay to North Avenue costs P15. Once the new fare matrix is implemented, passengers will be charged a maximum of P30 for riding LRT 1, P25 for the LRT 2, and P28 for MRT 3.

While both the LRT and MRT have been operating in the red for years, the facilities have not been properly maintained but have been kept untidy.

Ticket vending machines in MRT stations are mostly inoperative. TV monitors and clocks in most stations are not working. Using the comfort rooms is not at all comfortable because of broken or inexistent door locks, offensive smell, and soiled toilet bowls.

The mass transport system operators have miserably failed in its primary mission to “provide an adequate, regular and faster mode of transport service by operating a safe, ef?cient and reliable light rail transit system designed to meet the standards of service, quality and customer satisfaction.”

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