MANILA -- The Manila Metro Rail Transit System Line 3 (MRT-3) is currently operating at over capacity, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said on Wednesday.
According to Abaya, the MRT-3 is designed to carry only 360,000 to 380,000 passengers a year.
"We're now operating at 560,000 so we are wearing down the coaches and the system much more than it was designed to do," he said on ANC's Primetime.
The only solution to the long lines, Abaya said, is buying new coaches that should have been done back in 2007.
"The only logical thing to do is to anticipate, forecast passengers. But one way or another, given the relationship between government and the private owner right now, no one has made the decision or exert political will to buy the coaches and now that we've done it, we've procured it, the temporary setback was the temporary order of protection," he said.
Abaya, meanwhile, said the arrival of new coaches and the expected increase in fares are not connected.
"While I was a congressman, in the 2011 budget, it has been incorporated there, a reduced value for subsidy. So that contemplates of a reasonable increase in fare, but that has not been implemented. So the direction then, and it is still the rationale now, was that people... your congressman from Visayas, Mindanao ask why am I paying taxes used to subsidize MRT-3 when I can rarely ride a car or see a car? So it is just a policy now of government to re-allocate these valuable resources probably to more important priority projects in Visayas and Mindanao," he said.
According to Abaya, if an increase in fare is implemented, there would also be a slight decrease in subsidy.
"It will not totally knock out subsidy; subsidy will still be there. However the little savings that we get in the lessening of the subsidy could then be used for other priority projects in Visayas and Mindanao," he noted.
Asked if the DOTC is willing to put up the needed infrastructure to accommodate the thousands of commuters a day, Abaya said it wouldn't be too much of a problem.
"Probably we can put up walkways for them, but hopefully with additional trains the lines would shorten. I feel when you get more trains running, the headway -- meaning the time difference between one train set to the other -- will be lessened, then waiting time will be drastically reduced," he said.