(UPDATE) MRT-3 stops 24/7 ops, tries extended run instead

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2009 04:49 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2009 03:34 PM

MANILA - After experimenting with 24-hour operations for two days, the Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) will now experiment instead with extending the operating time of the MetroStar Express line, popularly known as the MRT-3.

In a press release, the MRTC said starting Wednesday the "midnight train" operation scheme will be implemented on the Metrostar Express, which extends the operations of the rail line to 1 a.m., instead of the usual 11 p.m. end.

The last train going southbound from the North Avenue Station, the line's northern terminus, will leave at 12:00 midnight and will reach the Taft Avenue Station in the south at 12:30 a.m.

The return trip of the last train will then arrive at the North Avenue Station at 1 a.m.

The MRT-3 operations will resume at 4 a.m., one hour earlier than the usual 5 a.m. start.

"The entry gates of the MRT-3 stations will be open until 12:01 midnight to accommodate riders of the last train dispatched from the North Station in Quezon City," the statement read.

Empty trains

The "second option" was implemented after the MRTC noted that most stations were empty between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.

"During the 24 hour operation, the MRT-3 recorded the highest passengers of about 3,000 between 11 P.M. and 12 midnight," the MRT management said in the statement.

This was due to most workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, as well as most third-shift wage earners in Metro Manila, such as factory workers, security guards, and hospital workers, report to work at around midnight, Transportation and Communications Assistant Sec. Reynaldo Berroya, MRT-3 General Manager, said.

"In order to save the wear and tear of the MRT3 system, the management decided to operate when there are passengers only," the statement read.

The train system also needs to be maintained, and the 24-hour run would compromise needed maintenance, the MRTC explained.

"Safety of the passengers and MRT-3 system itself must be ensured. Maintenance of the rail road tracks, power and electrical lines that propels the system are done daily between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.," the statement read.

Low passenger numbers

On Tuesday, the MRTC said they were only able to service 5,346 passengers during their first 24-hour run, instead of the 12,000 expected passengers. They were also only able to earn P134,000, compared to P289,000 in electricity expenses alone.

On the second night of overnight operations, the number of passengers dropped to 3,986, the MRTC said.

Berroya on Tuesday also said that they will announce further changes to the schedule of the train system to the public as soon as possible.

The new schedule will be known by Sunday, Berroya said Wednesday.

The announcement of the 24-hour run of the system, which runs along the length of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), was made last Thursday, a week after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo floated the idea upon the suggestion of several call center agents whom she had breakfast with on May 21.

Arroyo had paid a goodwill visit to a McDonald's restaurant in Makati to remind call center agents about the government's numerous investments in training workers for the business process outsourcing industry.

The initial 24-hour run started Monday. With reports from Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News