Why MRT-3 is beset with problems, according to LRT-1 operator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2017 09:33 AM

MANILA - The MRT-3's current set up, wherein it is jointly run by the government and the private sector, is partly to blame for its many problems, according to a private rail operator.

"Nagkakaturuan (They're pointing fingers at each other). To me, that is the main problem. It's either the government or the private sector should run it," Light Rail Manila president Rogelio Singson told ANC's Headstart.

Light Rail Manila is the sole operator and maintenance provider of LRT-1, which runs from Caloocan to Pasay. The LRT-2, which runs from Manila to Pasig, is purely government-run.

The MRT-3 was constructed by the Metro Rail Transit Corp, a private consortium under a build-operate-transfer scheme with the government in the late 1990s. It runs the length of EDSA from Quezon City to Pasay.

The train line, which runs above capacity with more than 500,000 passengers daily, has been beset with frequent breakdowns, prompting an apology from management over the weekend.

"The most efficient is to have the private sector do the operation and maintenance," said Singson, a former public works and highways secretary.

Light Rail Manila, a joint venture between the Ayala Group and tycoon Manuel Pangilinan's Metro Pacific, has submitted to government a proposal to run the MRT.

The consortium has set a P1-billion budget to upgrade the LRT-1.

Singson said rehabilitation works increased the number of operational train cars to 104 from 77, cutting waiting time between trains to "a little over" 3 minutes from 4 minutes.

The upkeep of trains is key, Singson said, adding decades-old tram systems like the one in San Francisco are still operational.

"Millennial yung sa atin. Yung sa kanila, heritage, maintenance lang solusyon diyan," he said.

(Our trains are millennials while other trains are heritage. Maintenance is the solution.)

Singson said some LRT-1 station platforms would be widened once its extension to the Cavite suburbs is operational in 2021 to give way to the projected increase in daily passengers to 800,000 from the current 480,000.