MANILA – An interconnected network of new rail lines and bus terminals that aims to cut travel time within Metro Manila and nearby provinces will be completed within five years, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcauco told the Senate’s economic affairs committee at a hearing on Wednesday that the project involves constructing nine additional train lines and three new bus terminals, as well as upgrading existing modes of transportation, at a total cost of P900 billion.
The projects seek to ease traffic in heavily congested Metro Manila and increase mass transport ridership from the current 6 percent to 20 percent of the population. They also hope to solve overcrowding in existing transport modes like the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).
“A key to this plan is what we call the seamless interconnection mass transport system. The value of that is in the network effect,” Limcauco said. “People will ride it provided that they can transfer seamlessly from line to line.”
The system will require an automatic fare collection system and a rail card “so that people won’t continue lining up every time they switch” to another line, he added.
In cities like London and Hong Kong, which are known for their efficient mass transport systems, transport cards enable commuters to transfer from one line or mode of transportation to another seamlessly.
The following projects are part of the network, according to Limcauco:
• Bus rapid transit system along C5 Road to ease traffic along EDSA
• Bus rapid transit system from Commonwealth Avenue down to Quezon Avenue and all the way to Manila City Hall
• Adding more coaches to the MRT-3 to expand its capacity from 500,000 to 800,000 passengers a day
• Subway line along Bonifacio Global City, Makati, and Pasay
• North, South, and Southwest provincial bus terminals
• Ferry system from the eastern portion of Pasig to downtown Manila
• Extension of LRT-1 to Dasmarinas, Cavite
• Construction of MRT-7 from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to SM North EDSA
• Extension of LRT-2 to the eastern and western parts of Metro Manila
• Western extension will connect the line to the planned North-South line of the Philippine National Railways, which will run from Malolos, Bulacan, to Calamba, Laguna.
• Maintenance and upgrading of LRT-2
The system is part of what Limcauco called the “Mega Manila Master Plan,” which the DOTC devised in cooperation with the National Economic and Development Authority and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The plan sets infrastructure goals for the city within a period of 15 to 20 years to make sure it is “liveable and efficient,” he said.