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TRANSIT SYSTEMS IN THE PHILIIPINES

National Capital Region (NCR) is the most densely populated region in the Philippines. The Philippine
Statistics Authority reported the population of the National Capital Region to be at 11.9 million as of 2013. 51
percent were female, most were high school graduates. 5.26 million were in the labor force, and 4.71 million
people were employed. (Railways and Train Commuters in NCR, 2015)

Twenty-three percent of the total regional population resides in Quezon City. It is followed by the city of
Manila with 13.9 percent, Caloocan City with 12.6 percent, Pasig City with 5.6 percent, Taguig City with 5.4
percent, and Paraaque City with 5.0 percent. (Railways and Train Commuters in NCR, 2015)

Three mass transit urban railway lines (LRT Line-1, LRT Line-2 and MRT Line-3) and a commuter
mainline railway (PNR) navigate around Manila and out of the area (Gomez, 2015). According to the study of Japan
International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), these
railway systems carried about 1.35 million passengers on an average week-day in 2012. (Railways and Train
Commuters in NCR, 2015)

The article entitled Railways and Train Commuters in NCR describe the location and capacity of the transit
sytems.

The 18.1 km-long LRT Line-1 traversing Baclaran to Caloocan was built in the
mid-1980s. As of 2012, it carried an average of 519,000 passengers per weekday. The 12.6
km.-long LRT Line-2 stretching from the Santolan to Recto stations carries an average of
212,000 passengers per day. The 16.5 km.-long MRT Line-3 along EDSA carries most rail
passengers (more than 572,000 to 600,000 per day) in NCR. Commuter groups demanding
for a safe and accessible mass transit system said this volume was way beyond the MRT
rated capacity of 250,000.

It is not something new when we hear complaints regarding the bad service that the railway system provides.
There was this time when a train went too far from the track and crashed on the barrier which cause the injury of
almost 40 people getting injured including a six-month-old baby (Romualdez, 2014). Just recently, a technical
problem occurred involving a southbound train of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) last October. The train abruptly
stopped between Araneta Cubao and Santolan stations at 11:30 in the morning. The passengers experienced intense
heat because the air-conditioning unit of the train was not working. It resumed at 11:58 am and reached the station
at 12 noon. Passengers were told to leave the train and wait for the next train to arrive. One passenger exclaimed
that this may be the cause of his unemployment. (Corrales, 2016)
In 2015, commuters group Train Riders Network (TREN) To resolve train commuters woes, TREN called
for the scrapping of onerous contracts, increasing government subsidy to modernize the rail transport system,
nationalizing instead of privatizing the mass transit system, and utilizing the railways to jumpstart economic
development (i.e. efficiently and safely transporting people and commodities to improve productivity). (Railways
and Train Commuters in NCR, 2015)

These railway systems are for the public use. Most of the commuters who use them include students who
have to go to school or even employees who have a task to accomplish at a specific time. Whenever a train
malfunctions, it hinders the productivity of the commuters. It also put the lives of the passengers at stake. We never
know when these trains will collapse. Thus, this problem should be addressed immediately.

CONTROVERSY OF THE TRANSIT SYSTEM DURING AQUINOS ADMINISTRATION

There has been numerous controversies on transportation during the administration of Former President
Beingno Aquino III. One of them involves the conflict between the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) and
Department of Transportations and Communications (DOTC).

MRT Line-3 carries the most number of passengers among Metro Manila's three rapid transit lines. The
MRT Line 3 is owned by the Metro Rail Transit Corporation, a private company in partnership with the Department
of Transportations and Communications (DOTC). The Department of Transportations and Communications, in
coordination with the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) run the MRT 3. Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese
firm, maintained the system under a contract with Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) for 10 years after MRT3 started
its operations. The train was not encountering problems during the time when its maintenance was under the
Sumitomo Corporation. According to Rigoberto D. Tiglao (2016), the train was so efficient that Sumitomo would
boast about MRT-3 in its sales pitch for bidding for similar projects around the world. Sumitomo built a reputation
as one of the best light-rail builders in the world. (Tiglao, 2016) When Sumitomo was maintaining the MRT, it ran
at 60 kph and 20 sets of trains were operated at the peak hour in the morning and in the afternoon. That is the speed
of the train with proper maintenance and it was so for 12 years, MRT Corp. director Rafael Perez de Tagle
(2016) said.

Sumitomos contract expired on July 2010. It was renewed on a six-month basis only for four times by
the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) with DOTCs approval. The Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC)
chairman Robert Sobrepea and Sumitomo wrote letters to the Department of Transportations and Communications
(DOTC) to request a bidding for a longer-term contract. He said that they never received any reply. (Tiglao, 2016)

The Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) put the blame on Sobrepea for the unfavorable state of the
MRT. Sobrepea, on the other hand, argued this saying that the DOTC has repeatedly refused their proposals.
(Tiglao 2016)
DOTCs Former MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol was the one told the MRTC earlier of September
2015 that Sumitomos contract would no longer be extended. (Tiglao, 2016)

In an article written by Rigoberto D. Tiglao, he said that the MRT-3s deterioration started when the
Department of Transportations and Communications (DOTC) officially informed the Metro Rail Transit
Corporation (MRTC) on October 4 that Sumitomos contract would not be extended. After two weeks, it then
scheduled a simplified bidding in two weeks. This scheduled bidding involved the submission of bids, and for
government to negotiate with what it felt was the best bidder. (Tiglao, 2016)

The Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) claimed that it was an emergency move done in order to
prevent, a stoppage of MRT-3s operations, which would have cause a sever disruption on the transportation
needs of its estimated 600,000 passengers. (Tiglao, 2016)

Tiglao (2016) questioned this act because a bidding could have been done and bidders given the time to prepare
for it two years after Sumitomos contract expired on July 2010. During that time, the head of the Department of
Transportations and Communications (DOTC) was Manuel Roxas III. He is the Cabinet member in charge of this
transit system,

Al Vitangcol, who was facing graft charges for awarding an MRT maintenance contract without public
bidding, argues that he signed the contract papers because the Department of Trades and Communications (DOTC)
gave him the go signal. (Tiglao, 2016)

Tiglao (2016) puts all the blame in this issue to Roxas.

POOR MAINTENANCE OF MRT AND ACTIONS BEING DONE


There are reports of cracks in the wheels of the MRT. The trains steel wheels have squeezed into ovals.
These trains have to run slower or they would come off the tracks. MRT-3 trains have been stopping at mid-
stations. They are so few and even run so slowly (Tiglao, 2016). Last September, Metro Rail Transit Corporation
of MRT Line 3 (MRT-3) warned that the poor maintenance is a threat to the lives of the passengers of the MRT-3.

The safety of the passengers should be the utmost priority of the government. Roberto Tiglao said during
the height of the controversy of the MRT-3, if the Senate is reinvestigating the Mamasapano massacre, they might
as well investigate the MRT-3 mess, which could, if uncorrected, lead to accidents killing more than those murdered
by the Moro insurgents in Mamasapano.

Thankfully, there is already an action that is being done to solve this. An article written by Michael Camus
on November 18, 2016 shows that,

The Korean-backed maintenance provider of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 said it
has been working double time to replace train tracks and the MRT-3 signalling system to
ensure less disruptions ahead of the busy Christmas holidays. Under its contract, Busan
Universal Rail Inc. will replace the entire signaling system within 24 months. This is to
upgrade and further boost the safety standards of MRT-3. BURI also said 52 cars underwent
bogie inspections and all bogie frames with cracks were replaced with spares. Defective
motors and as well as aircon compressors were also replaced.

CONCLUSION

Months after the controversy regarding the MRT-3 during the Aquino administration, the Philippines
inaugurated a new president. It calls for new cabinet members who will be in charge in the different departments.
Perhaps for some, there are new people to blame in case anything goes wrong. President Rodrigo Duterte chose
Arthur Tugade to run the transportation department. It is too early to judge whether this man is a leader who is apt for
this position.

It is a must for the government to choose leaders who make the right decision regarding matters that affect
many citizen such as matters in transportation. Babe G. Romualdez (2014) considers the Department of
Transportations and Communications (DOTC) to be one of the most important departments because transportation
affects everybody whether the mode of transport is by air or water, whether its a bus, car, truck or train.
REFERENCES:

http://www.up.edu.ph/railways-and-train-commuters-in-ncr/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/823130/technical-problem-stops-southbound-mrt-train-irks-
passengers#ixzz4QHHHjA3A
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/823130/technical-problem-stops-southbound-mrt-train-irks-
passengers#ixzz4QHEqYFb6
http://www.manilatimes.net/roxas-squarely-responsible-for-mrt-3-mess/239124/
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/823130/technical-problem-stops-southbound-mrt-train-irks-passengers
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/815358/815358