'Free ride' program in MRT expected to bring in some 400,000 passengers daily

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2022 01:54 PM

 Passengers try the contact tracing app launched by MRT-3 at the North Avenue Station in Quezon City on January 18, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 
Passengers try the contact tracing app launched by MRT-3 at the North Avenue Station in Quezon City on January 18, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA - The MRT-3's daily passenger capacity may reach up to 400,000 per day in the weeks to come, as the government starts its "free ride" program on Monday. 

In an online press conference, MRT General Manager Michael Capati said they are ready to welcome the influx of passengers due to the 'libreng sakay' program from March 28 to April 30 this year. 

In recent weeks, MRT is getting about 248,000 passengers a day and that is expected to surge next week, as the government loosened transportation restrictions under Alert Level 1. 

"Ngayon nag reready kami kasi libre. Syempre kapag libre, baka mas marami tayong ma anticipate na pasahero," said Capati. He added, "Baka sumampa na tayo ng 300,000 to 400,000 assuming mag normalize na ang ating sitwasyon sa pandemic. Ready naman po ang ating pasilidad, ang ating capacity, kaya nag test na tayo ng 4-car train," Capati said. 

(We are getting ready because it's free, and since it's free, we will probably anticipate more passengers. We could have as much as 300,000 to 400,000 assuming our situations normalize during the pandemic. Our facilities are ready, that's why we're testing a 4-car train.) 

They will deploy 20 trains sets during peak hours, including two 4-car train sets. A 4-car train set can accommodate over 1,500 passengers. 

Capati said that because the trains are rehabilitated, trips will be faster than before. A one journey trip from North Avenue Station to Taft Station will only take 40-45 minutes, down from over an hour before, Capati revealed.

"Ilalabas na po natin ang 4-car train CKD train sets. Ito po ay kayang magkarga ng 1,576 passengers per train set. Ito po ay idedeploy natin sa revenue line during morning at afternoon peak hours, aside po yan sa usual 3 [car] CKD train sets," Capati said.

(We will take out our 4-car train CKD train sets, which can carry as much as 1,576 passengers per train sets. We will deploy this in the revenue line during morning and afternoon peak hours - aside from the usual 3 [car] CKD train sets.) 

Because of the free ride program, MRT stands to lose at least P80 million in a month, based on the P2.7 million daily revenue they got in January. But Capati said, this will not affect the maintenance and operations of the train.

"Ang ating pasilidad ng MRT-3 ay meron naman po yang General Appropriations Act budget at doon natin kukunin ang subsidy niyan at yan po ay napakaloob sa binigay sa atin ng Kongreso," Capati said.

(Our MRT-3 facilities has its budget under the General Appropriations Act and we will get the subsidy there. This is in regards to what the Congress has given to us.) 

Capati said MRT has an allocated budget of P7 billion for the year and they have enough funds for the operations of MRT even with the free ride program.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier announced that the newly-rehabilitated MRT-3 will be free to ride from March 28 to April 30. The rail line, boasting of speeds at 60 kilometers per hour, is supposed to improve interval between train arrivals at 15 minutes. 

The program was announced to mark the rehabilitation of the MRT 3.

MRT however will suspend operations from April 12 to 17 for Holy Week maintenance. 

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