Back to buses for MRT-3 commuters?

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 30 2014 10:47 AM | Updated as of Mar 30 2014 06:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Should commuters take the bus instead of riding the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3)?

Malacañang is grappling with answers to the complaints from thousands of Filipinos taking the MRT-3, saying it is up to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as well as the MRT-3 management to find solutions to the hardships that train commuters have to endure everyday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday that “hopefully,” the DOTC and the MRT-3 management would “find more ways to alleviate” the problems of commuters enduring long lines at the train stations and congestion in the coaches.

Valte said over dzRB it is not safe for commuters to stay on the platforms for long and said various measures must be explored to solve their woes.

She said the government is open to an inquiry on the problems of the MRT-3 but noted the legal hurdles that the DOTC had to face in order to purchase more train coaches.

“You’d be surprised, for any bidding of government...the losing bidder always files a case,” Valte said, citing the temporary restraining order against the purchase of new train coaches as an example.

On Friday, Valte said “our officials in the DOTC have been also hearing about these complaints from ordinary citizens, as well as from those of us in government” and so “hopefully, they will not be stoic about these complaints.”

Valte said President Aquino was aware of the problem and that “he is not blind and deaf when it comes to those matters.”

“That is why periodically, the President also checks in with the departments, especially if there are needed projects to improve government service to our people,” Valte said.

She said DOTC and MRT-3 officials must try to put some other measures to make the daily commute a little more bearable because buying new trains could not be done in haste.

Valte said procurement of the coaches have to go through a legal process and that was one of the limitations “when it comes to a quick access to the trains.”

The MRT-3 has been hounded by problems, more so this week when it went on temporary “provisional operation” after it suffered a glitch in its communications system.

The delay in the deployment of trains has caused daily kilometric lines at the MRT-3 stations, especially at its primary station at North Avenue in Quezon City.

More than 500,000 people take the MRT-3 when its capacity is only for more than 350,000 on a daily basis.

The Makati regional trial court has dismissed an injunction case filed by MRT Holdings II Inc. last Feb. 21. This allowed the DOTC to issue a notice to proceed to a Chinese company that will manufacture 48 brand new coaches.

Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co., which won the public bidding held in 2013, has 18 months to deliver the first prototype which would be used for testing on the MRT system.