MRT Bus Link project conks out



DESPITE the ‘’Do not delay’’ sign, the buses used for the MRT project were flagged down for lane violations. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It was a road “experiment” that led to exasperation, if not embarrassment.

What was supposed to be a three-day test run for the Bus Link Project of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) on Edsa proved so problematic on the morning it was launched that it was suspended indefinitely later in the afternoon.

The project, which apparently caught many by surprise, was intended to address the lack of MRT trains and reduce overcrowding at the terminals especially during rush hours, by offering buses to MRT passengers who wish to avoid the long lines.

Under the project, MRT riders who bought single-journey tickets for P15 each can board the specially marked buses at the station of origin, surrender the ticket to the bus conductor upon entry and alight at the destination station. From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., the buses would pick up southbound passengers at North Avenue station and make stops at Ayala, Magallanes and Taft stations.

But lack of coordination among concerned agencies, as well as a poor information drive, got the project on a rough start on Wednesday.

It showed most glaringly when three of the five Genesis buses chartered by the MRT were flagged down by traffic constables of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for illegally using underpasses on Edsa.

The drivers were issued violation tickets despite the tarpaulin signs on the buses stating they were part of the project, complete with the warning: “Do not delay.”

With the buses forced to use the lanes for regular buses, some of the passengers decided to get off at MRT stations to again try their luck getting into a train.

The MMDA said it did not issue permits exempting MRT buses from lane restrictions on Edsa.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino said there was no coordination made with his office regarding the project.

He said he was abroad when discussions on the project began March 1 and that he was personally told of the project’s launch only on Tuesday.

“This happened quite abruptly,” he said. “We support the MRT in finding ways to alleviate the plight of the passengers, but buses are not part of the MRT’s mandate. If they deploy buses, they have to comply with the rules.”

“(MRT3 management) should properly coordinate and conduct more studies. The city bus operators might complain about the exemption and might decide to follow suit,” he said, noting that current MMDA bus schemes required months of consultations before they were launched.

In an early-morning interview on Radyo Inquirer , MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol clarified that “this not a program. This is just an experiment good for three days, at a very limited time.”

Vitangcol admitted that “only a few people took the buses, 30 at the most on one bus. The first bus to go only had 10.”

“It was not that successful since most of the passengers still preferred the MRT even with the long lines,” said an MRT employee assigned at North Avenue station, who declined to be identified for lack of authority to speak to the media.

The employee said only around 100 passengers took the buses offered by the train company.

ONE OF the buses await riders at the MRT’s North Avenue station Wednesday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“Why would I choose the bus when it would take me longer to get to my destination? It defeats the purpose, right?” said Ian Dizon, an office worker.

Later in the afternoon, Tolentino, Vitangcol and some bus operators agreed in a meeting to suspend the MRT bus project indefinitely.

Vitangcol said there were still “a lot of issues that need to be fixed.” Again he stressed that the project was only an experiment to gauge the public’s “riding preference” or what time train riders would be amenable to taking buses.

He said such data could not be obtained and validated through mere surveys.

Also on Wednesday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the MRT had yet to file an application for the buses tapped for the project.

“They can file an application for a special permit for experimental operations,” LTFRB Chair James Jacob said, though noting the MRT’s bus project was an unusual case.

He said past special permits issued by the LTFRB were usually for bus companies exploring the use of alternative fuels.

“But the MRT’s case is different. These are regular buses and they want to run on Edsa,” Jacob said, adding that the government’s standing policy is for the reduction of the number of buses on Metro Manila roads.

Jacob said it would make more sense for the MRT to just add more trains.

The Inquirer obtained a copy of a March 5 letter from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to MRT saying it was not fully endorsing the latter’s partnership with Genesis.

“The DOTC is not in a position to endorse a specific entity [Genesis] for the issuance of a special permit,” read the letter sent by DOTC assistant secretary Jaime Raphael Feliciano to Vitangcol.

It also stressed that “currently there is a directive from the Office of the President to reduce the number of buses plying Edsa, not add to the existing number.” With a report from Paolo G. Montecillo

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  • pedronimo

     MMDA Chairman Tolentino has the reputation of cooking up trial & error method of spur-of-the- moment ideas. He’s a lawyer and therefore can’t be a genius like a physicist Einstein.

    • Loggnat

      I think it is MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol who is the chef of this fiasco and not Tolentino. He must have been trying to emulate the MMDA chairman. :)))

  • Marcos5

    Vitangcol said there were still “a lot of issues that need to be fixed.”
    Again he stressed that the project was only an experiment to gauge the
    public’s “riding preference” or what time train riders would be amenable
    to taking buses.

    Pare-pareho kayong Obobs !! MRT and MMDA. 

    Simple lang yan !

    *Magdagdag Kayo ! ng Bicycle Lanes !
    *Bicycle stands sa ilalim ng bawat  MRT stations
    *Magdagdag kayon ng mga MRT trains.
    *Mamigay kayo ng libreng 10,000 na Bisikleta para sa commuters.
    *I will make a LAW that Taxi, Bus, Jeepney’s and Trains must have a roof rack or support rack system that can carry 1 or 2 Bicycles.
    *Support bicycle riders incentives to commute to work; like a big discount to buy a bicycle carrier or roof rack.
    *Make a LAW that every household should have a bicycle in the inner cities like Makati and Quezon City.
    *Make a Law that every Company, Office building and parking lot install a bicycle racks.
    *Construct a dedicated bicycle lane at the side of the PnR train route from north to south of Manila and evict all the squatters and employ them.
    *Add more Ferryboats in the Pasig river and Manila Bay.

    At sa sobrang daming sumasakay ng MRT sasabihin nyo na walang Pera ? pambili ng tren ?
    sino kaya ang magaling magnakaw dyan ?  tapos ang Solusyon nyo Bus ? Wow naman ang gagaling nyo  talagang mag-isip !   First Class letter  T !

    • TagaDumantay

       May try ka munang mag bike punta sa opisina. Kung ok na amoy pawis ka pag pasok kahit iwasan ka ng officemate e di gawin mo. Kung may aircon malamang pneumonia ang abutin mo. Ang klima dito di tulad sa Japan at Korea pwedeng mag bike. Ang mga puti lang ang mahilig mag bike pa office dahil pwedeng mag shower at may locker. Dito sa Pinas gusto require ang mga office na magprovide ng shower at locker? Toiler nga ilan lang sa building at mall kasi sayang ang space, pera din. Kung ang amo mo pa ay si Henry Sy tiyak may bayad ang shower at loacker. Yong cr nga sa SM ayaw lagyan ng bidet para mabili ang kanilang tissue.

      • Marcos5

        Ako po ay nagbibike papunta sa Makati Bike friday po sa susunod araw-araw at doon ako sa banyo nagpapalit may extra ako sa cubicle ko at pinapasok ko ang folding bike ko sa opis.  Oks ba ? ano pa gusto mo ? kutchara at tinidor ?

      • riverjoel

        buti ka pre may cubicle. :) am a biker too though talagang napakalayo bahay from office.

      • Marcos5

        Accenture the best !

  • Eric

    Pataasan ng ihi at the expense of the public. Work together hoy!
    Wala pa akong nararamdamang pagbabago sa mga lansangan.

  • henry21

    kundi ba naman…talaga… ang EDSA dapat bawasan ng buses para lumuwag…paano gagawin ito??? ayusin ng mabuti ang operasyon ng MRT, dagdagan ng trains para mas marami ang makasakay… pag konti na lang ang pasahero sa bus… presto, bawasan na ang dami nito.!!!

    ano ang ginawa ng MRT, bumili ng bus para maghatid ng pasahero gamit din ang EDSA!!! 


    PNoy pumili ka naman ng matinong tao…..

  • kevinmcn

    More trains & cars for the MRT, the MRT should be making money why are they not servicing the community?

  • blah blah blah…


  • Marcos5

    Trapik na magdagdag pa ng Bus?  Hoy !  wala na bang ibang opisyal na may utak dyan ? mukang pabaliktad yata?   instead na more  Trains more Bus ?  anong klaseng solusyon yan ?

    Hoy Pres. Pnoy ! pwede bang tangalin mo na dyan kung sino nasa pwesto dyan sa MRT  please lang.   Lack of Vision yung tao nyo dyan obobs pa !   ano bayan? 

    Magdagdag kayo ng Tren idevelop nyo ang PnR, LRT at MRT.  idevelop nyo ang Bicycle Lanes at magbike kayo – mga Juan Tamad na hinde nagiisip!

  • JosengSisiw1

    Vitangcol & his team sounds too desperate resorting on testing a bus system that defeats the main purpose of the MRT. What MRT needs now is wide visioned management team that will focus on improving the MRT services itself and not even consider this kind of  laughable test resulting to wasted MRT resources.

  • flip1sba

    If The MRT is to acquire new rolling stock, it would be upgraded to a light to medium capacity metro system instead of those Czech made trams. 

    Plus it is better off buying more ticket vending machines as in lots of them to alleviate the long queues when buying a ticket.

  • Willy Estrella

    First of all kaya nga me LRT at MRT to ease traffic and make travel more convenient tapos ibabalik mo sa bus? Kakainis pag may mga officials na paatras ang utak.  How did you even become GM of MRT? Suggestion lng in case hindi niyo pa naisip…make ticket booths available sa malls, etc., and yes more mrt/lrt cars

  • Toni

    Am I surprised?

  • The Pastor Marty

    I think its time for the admins of the MRT and LRT to give it back to the government, just like the old times when the government started this project. It really deserves an upgrade!

    If they have care on the passengers like us, they should have already done it when they are already encountering all sorts of issues… 

  • nakatutok

    pwede naman kasi talaga yung bus…basta HIHILAHIN NG MRT TRAIN para mabilis….BWA HA AH HA AH….IDIOTS>>>>

  • kismaytami

    It is really mind boggling how the management arrived with this idea.

    • nakatutok

      it goes all the way to the top..this BUNCH OF OJT’s..all the way to Malacanang…

  • judefawley

    How can MRT execute this bus initiative without consultation and coordination with MMDA and LTFRB? This is a very simple logic for MRT’s general manager to miss.

  • riverjoel

    I commend the person who act but then fail than those who who never try but quick for harsh words.

    • Mark Philip Wu

      Wouldn’t it be better to act on a good plan with proper preparation and actually succeed instead of trying a bad idea and predictably failing, wasting the time and effort of everyone involved?

  • Mark Philip Wu

    The idea is faulty from the start, but it sure wasn’t helped by the poor execution. Much like with many things the government does, they grabbed a rough concept and decided to run with it and see what happens, instead of thinking it through step by step 

  • East_Crusader

    the reason behind despite the fact that MRT and LRT have an overcrowded and they never wanted the train to just have enough because they got more revenue, say we have 12 trains running with full pack squeezed tight passenger vs 24 trains with just enought paasenger, if you take a look at it, it doubles the operational expenses of MRT when you Quality of Service given to the public. thus lesser money in the pocket,,.for them MRT admin et al, who had a  yearly brand new cars will only care the amount of money that they can grabb and the public commuters had no choice but to ride in a fullpack squeezed tight dull trains of the MRT/LRT

  • East_Crusader

    for those who are telling that the MRT admin are stupid with this idea, well you are more stupid than you though of them because for them adding trains will cost more revenue thus lesser money to corrupt..

  • Joey

    MRT/LRT Mangement simply….#@%(*&)^);kjbKYF!!!!

  • jimbocho

    I was in japan before and I observed that the seats are folded during rush hours and all passengers must stand to accomodate more. those with back packs hold their bag near knees to save space. those near the door give way to out going passengers. they move to the less crowded part of the train to give space to the in going passengers.

    info dessimination on how to properly ride the train and adopting the folded seat are better idea for now than this bus idea. 

  • buttones

    Come on now guys, let’s be honest with ourselves, we really don’t have a clue about anything do we, urban planning is just a word, we don’t have anybody that has experience in this, we simply don’t. So don’t tell me we do. The whole transit system in MM is a mess…..

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