'Technical issues' prolong LRT-2 shutdown, tormenting 220,000 passengers

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2019 09:37 AM | Updated as of Oct 07 2019 02:39 PM

Railway management eyes partial opening on Oct. 8 

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MANILA — "Technical issues" prevented the re-opening of the LRT-2 on Monday, 3 days after it suspended its operations due to a fire, forcing some 220,000 passengers to find alternative modes of transport, its management said Monday. 

Authorities over the weekend failed to "tune up" the power supply and telecommunication system struck by Thursday's fire, said LRT Authority Spokesperson Atty. Hernando Cabrera. 

"Hanggang ngayong araw, may naiiwan pa rin tayong technical issues pagdating doon sa ating telecommunications system saka sa ating power supply system," he told radio DZMM. 

(Until today, there are remaining technical issues with our telecommunications system and our power supply system.) 

"Despite our continuous conduct of simulation... hindi namin ma-achieve iyong gusto naming makapagbigay ng kombinyente at safe na biyahe para sa ating mga pasahero. Hangga't hindi namin naa-achieve iyon, hindi kami puwedeng mag-operate muna," he added. 

(Despite our continuous conduct of simulation, our fine-tuning, we were not able to achieve our goal of providing convenient and safe travel to our passengers. Until we achieve that, we cannot operate yet.) 

COMMUTER PLIGHT 

In front of the LRT-Anonas station in Marcos Highway, droves of LRT riders scrambled to hail packed buses and jeepneys. 

Among them was Rolly Duran, 58, who ran late for work as he spent some 30 minutes waiting for free bus rides offered by the government

"Hinihintay ko [ang libreng sakay], wala namang dumadating, matagal yata ang dating. Gusto ko ngang mag-jeep, kahit sabit lang, punong-puno naman," he told radio DZMM.

(I'm waiting, but no bus has arrived. I want to ride a jeepney instead, even cling to its rear, but they're already packed with passengers.) 

Radio technologist Micah Tuliao was also stuck in the passenger queue despite leaving home earlier than usual, forcing her to try booking a ride on motorcycle-hailing app Angkas. 

"Sobrang daming taong nag-aabang ng sasakyan so nagbu-book ako ng Angkas... pahirapan sa pag-book," she said. 

(There are so many people waiting for public vehicles so I'm trying to book a ride on Angkas but it's difficult.) 

Meanwhile, some tricycle drivers lamented the loss of earnings due to the lack of LRT-2 passengers who they bring to nearby universities. 

"Napakabigat po, pero nag-iisip din po kami kung papaano po namin mapapakain ang aming pamilya," said Alejandro Epil, board member of a tricycle association. 

(It's difficult, but we are also thinking about how we can feed our families) 

LRT SHUTDOWN: P3.2-M DAILY LOSSES, P340-M REPAIR COST 

The LRT-2 ferries around 200,000 passengers daily, with the rider tally rising to 240,000 on peak days, Cabrera said. 

The railway loses P3.2 million in revenue in each day of shutdown, which will go down to P1.5 million in losses once it partially resumes operations, he said. 

The LRT, he said, may resume partial operations on 8 of its 11 stations, from Recto, Manila to Cubao, Quezon City "hopefully" by Tuesday. 

The Anonas, Katipunan and Santolan stations — located near several universities — may remain closed for 9 months, as authorities procure P340 million worth of spare parts to replace those gutted by the blaze, the cause of which is still being investigated, said Cabrera.

Most of the customized parts will be imported from the UK, while some may come from Japan and France, he said. 

The repair of the LRT-2 will not push up fare rates, he said. 
 
FREE RIDES 

Regulators have granted special permits for 89 buses to ferry LRT-passengers. 

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, meanwhile, has 4 buses offering free rides, said its Task Force for Special Operations, Bong Nebrija. 

Authorities are cautious of deploying more buses to the LRT route because some roads like Anonas are narrow and will experience gridlocks in case of vehicular accidents, he said. 


- With reports from Lyza Aquino and Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News