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DOTC eyes LRT 1 expansion rebid before year ends

/ 01:29 AM October 16, 2013

The rebid of the P60-billion expansion project for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1) could be held before the end of the year, according to Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) earlier looked at early 2014 as the possible schedule to put back on track one of the biggest infrastructure projects of the Aquino administration.

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The 11.7-kilometer project, to be undertaken under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, hit a snag on Aug. 15 after three bidders withdrew and one submitted a noncompliant offer.

Abaya said the bid terms had been tweaked and that the agency hoped to get an approval within the month from the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, which is chaired by President Aquino.

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“Hopefully we can award the project by January or February next year,” Abaya said.

The bidders were earlier worried about a burdensome real property tax, which was estimated at P2 billion. Other issues raised included the current state of the original LRT 1, which has been operating since the 1980s.

Last week, LRT 1 operations were again marred by technical problems involving cables and the station that regulates the power supply for the trains. This caused the trains to run at lower capacity and speed.

The extension project will involve the construction of a 10.5-kilometer elevated railway and a 1.2-km section at street level.

It aims to increase average weekday ridership from the current capacity of 560,000 passengers to 820,000 by 2015.

The whole stretch of the integrated LRT 1, with a total length of about 32.4 km, will be operated and maintained by the private proponent of the PPP for 35 years, including the time spent for construction.

The DOTC may bid out three more projects within 2013.

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Up next is the Nov. 15 bid for the P17.5-billion contract to expand, rehabilitate and operate the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. On Nov. 18, the contract for a P1.72-billion automated fare collection system for Metro Manila’s elevated railways would be also be up for bidding.

Both projects have been pushed back from their original auction date in August as the government tweaked their respective concession agreements after discussions with bidding groups.

The DOTC is working on another long-delayed project: The construction of a common station between Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and the LRT in Quezon City.

With various proposals submitted to the department, Abaya said it would soon determine whether SM North Edsa or the Ayala Group’s Trinoma mall would serve as the best site for the common station.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation and Communications, DoTC, Joseph Abaya, Light Rail Transit Line 1, LRT, MRT, PPP scheme, Public-Private Partnership
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