DOTr: Don’t judge us by MRT’s sorry state alone
As passengers suffer daily due to the dwindling number of operational Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) trains, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) maintained that its performance should not be judged solely by the deteriorating state of Metro Manila’s busiest train line.
“The MRT is only 17 of the 1,900 kilometers of rails that the DOTr is working on to complete by 2022. The MRT is not the face of the DOTr,” TJ Batan, the transport undersecretary for rails, said in a statement.
Batan stressed that the department was “doing everything to address all issues hounding [MRT 3].”
Since the DOTr took over as the interim maintenance provider of the MRT 3 in November, the number of running trains has gone down to as low as six, far from the ideal 20 it required from the previous service provider, Busan Universal Rail Inc.
For most of February, no more than nine trains were operating, resulting in very long lines at the stations and angry, unruly passengers.
Ridership has also suffered, plummeting to a daily average of 236,000 passengers last month, almost half of last year’s daily average of 463,000.
For Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, the DOTr must understand that the MRT 3’s condition has become “a symbol of government neglect and mismanagement.”
“It’s not the length of the rails that matter. It’s the overall impact MRT 3 has on commuters and the national budget. That is why the public needs to scrutinize government’s response to the MRT 3 crisis,” Reyes said.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has given assurance that after the Holy Week break, when the MRT is scheduled to undergo an extensive maintenance check, the number of running trains will increase to 15.
To many observers, a key solution would be the rollout of the 48 Dalian trains purchased from China by the Aquino administration.
The MRT management said the P3.8-billion trains would be added to the fleet should the independent audit conducted by TUV Rheinland show that they were safe to use. The audit report is expected to be released this Saturday.
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