'Efficient mass transit key to solving metro traffic woes'
MANILA - An efficient mass transit system is key to solving traffic congestion hounding Metro Manila, transportation chief Arthur Tugade said on Monday.
Tugade said the Department of Transportation has lofty plans to improve the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) in the first year in office of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said in one year, the transportation department aims to increase the number of passengers using the MRT to 30,000, more than double its current capacity of 14,000 passengers during peak hours.
Noel Eli Kintanar, the transport undersecretary for rail, said the agency is looking to increase the number of light rail vehicles to 60 in the first 100 days in office of the new administration, from the current 48 coaches.
He said the trains' speed will also be increased to 50 kilometers per hour (kph) from its current speed of 40 kph.
He said the trains are expected to run at their normal speed of 60 kph in six months.
With the increased number of coaches and faster travel time, Kintanar said the MRT is expected to accommodate an estimated 16,000 passengers in the first 100 days.
In six months, the trains are seen to arrive faster at an interval of 3.75 minutes. Currently, MRT trains arrive every five minutes.
Kintanar said the agency is in talks with international auditors to ensure the safety of passengers amid the increased speed.
Duterte is seeking "emergency powers" to solve the traffic problems in Metro Manila, but Tugade said the Department of Transportation can implement several measures to address the issue.
He said aside from improving the MRT system, he will also focus on implementing an efficient point-to-point shuttle system as well as a rapid bus transport system.
He said a common station for rail systems and provincial buses will also be constructed.
Tugade believes solving Metro Manila's traffic woes involves creating a unified traffic system through coordination with local government units.
“Kung so-solve-in mo ang EDSA, baka magkaroon lang ng embudo sa Caloocan, magkakaproblema lang ang Caloocan. Kailangan ang pananaw mo diyan, pangkalahatan,” he told dzMM.
He added that once "special powers" are granted to Duterte, the department will tap existing roads in private properties to ease traffic in major thoroughfares.
He clarified that the special power will "not be whimsical, not arbitrary, and not confiscatory."