Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya rides MRT
MANILA – Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said he accepted the challenge to ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to conduct a "safety visit" on the train system that has been hounded by technical glitches in recent weeks.
Abaya rode the MRT on Thursday after commuters urged him to try out what they experience on a daily basis.
However, the transportation secretary was criticized because he rode the train during off-peak hours, and he was seen riding the front portion of the train, which is usually less congested and allotted for senior citizens, pregnant women and children.
Abaya explained that he chose to enter the first train car to get first-hand information on the MRT’s safety from the train driver.
“Noong sumakay ako nu’n, bahagi ng trabaho ko nagi-inspect ako to assess ‘yung safety…Sa ganu’ng pagkakataon nagkaroon din ako ng chance na kausapin ‘yung driver,” he told dzMM on Monday.
Abaya said that during stops, he interviewed the driver and assessed the safety from a train driver’s perspective.
He noted that he is willing to ride the MRT again during the rush hour, if his schedule permits.
“Walang pagkakataon na madanasan ko ‘yung rush hour dahil naisingit lang namin, but walang problema naman sa akin sumakay ng rush hour. Ang challenge lang sa akin ay naghahatid ako ng mga anak sa umaga, it’s very difficult to insert that,” he said.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte and Senator Grace Poe have both taken the challenge of riding the MRT during rush hour.
'READY FOR ANY CHALLENGE'
Abaya stressed that while he is open to taking the challenge, what’s more important to him is how to address the issues hounding the train system, such as long queues and technical problems.
“Pwede kong i-call ‘yang mga MRT Challenge, Ice Bucket Challenge, but at the end of the day, ang tingin ko, matutuwa ba talaga sa akin ‘yung mga mananakay dahil mapapaikili ko ba ang kanilang mga linya kapag nag-MRT Challenge ako. Tingin ko mas ma-appreciate nila kung sisiguraduhin kong makakarating kaagad itong additional trains, at ang upgrades ay hindi lang kwento kundi makikita sa budget at mapapatupad,” he said.
Abaya said the train prototypes for the 48 new light rail vehicles (LRVs) are scheduled to arrive in August 2015.
As early as September next year, at least three to four new LRVs are expected to be operational. Up to four new LRVs can be added every month, to meet the target of all 48 new LRVs deployed by September 2016.