MANILA - Two years from now, the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) will service passengers from Santolan station up to Masinag in Antipolo City, adding 4.2 kilometers to the current line.
Two new stations will be added to connect the lines: the Emerald station in Cainta, Rizal and the Masinag station at the Masinag Junction.
With its current top speed ranging from 70 to 80 kilometers per hour, travel time from Santolan to Masinag is estimated at 6 minutes, lower than the travel time on the road which will take around 30 minutes.
An additional 75,000 passengers from areas in Rizal will be serviced once the project opens by third quarter of 2017. Ninety percent of LRT-2's passengers are from these densely populated area.
Currently, LRT-2 is servicing 240,000 passengers daily and it has not reached its maximum capacity.
The four-kilometer extension will traverse through Pasig, Marikina, Cainta and stop at the foothills of Antipolo.
A groundbreaking ceremony with transport officials was held Tuesday to officially start the construction of the P9.5 billion project.
Motorists and commuters passing along Marcos Highway should expect heavier traffic in the coming years once the construction starts as some lanes will be closed.
Transportation Undersecretary Julianito Bucayan said they have already coordinated with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and crafted a scheme to lessen the expected traffic in the area. The location is also flood-prone.
"The issue of the flooding, it's something we cannot avoid. Because this area is flood-prone, so we just have to deal with it, we cannot stop the work because this area is prone to flooding. So we work if the condition is right, then we suspend for a while, then we resume," Bucayan said.
Construction will start in a few weeks. Transport officials are assuring the riding public that the commuter line will not be disrupted with the construction activities.
LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco explains that when the LRT-2 opened in 2000, the original plan was to extend the line up to Masinag, Antipolo.
"There was a problem, one was funding, the other one hindi pa ganun karami ang pasahero doon. So ngayon lang may realization of the original plan which was Masinag or extend," Chaneco said.
He added that there is no need for additional trains despite the expected additional number of passengers. There are 12 trains running with six spare trains.
Meanwhile, there is also a plan to extend LRT-2 westward, from Recto Station up to Pier 4 in Manila, which was approved by the NEDA Board last month.