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MRT till midnight pushed

Why not make it a midnight train?

With the full delivery of 48 new coaches for the Metro Rail Transit still more than two years away, an administration senator on Friday called on the government to maximize the current MRT service or make it more comfortable for its half-a-million riders daily.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto suggested that the operating hours, for example, be extended up to 12 midnight.

“While the purchase of trains from China has been greenlighted by the courts, there remains the need to ease the situation while waiting for their arrival,” Recto said in a statement.

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“The trains are coming but something must be done about the daily calvary of MRT riders,” said Recto, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party.

The Department of Transportation and Communication is headed also by an LP member, Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Reached for comment, DOTC spokesperson Michael Sagcal explained that such an extension could reduce the hours during which maintenance works are performed on the MRT up to 4 a.m. “We can’t extend (the service) without compromising safety,” he said in a text message.

Recto noted that at present, the last MRT train leaves Trinoma station in Quezon City at 10:30 p.m. while the last one from the opposite direction leaves Taft Avenue station in Pasay City at 11 p.m.

“By extending its operating hours by just one hour, the MRT can theoretically field 20 more trips, and thus carry 23,640 more passengers per direction. Even if just eight trips will be put in service during the extended period, they can still carry what 200 buses can,” the senator said.

MRT operators shouldn’t worry about having few passengers late at night “because Metro Manila, with a population of 13 million, is now a 24/7 metropolis,” he said.

Recto also called on the management to push through with plans for rail grinding and replacement projects to avoid service disruptions because of stalling trains.

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Calling attention to the air-conditioning system as summer draws near, he said the trains should not make passengers feel as if they were in “a moving steam bath.”

He also proposed the setup of tents on sidewalks below MRT stations, where long queues form during rush hours, to relieve passengers from both the heat and the rains of the next monsoon season.

The MRT management should also look into the feasibility of increasing the stored value in MRT cards, which is presently set at a maximum of P100. “A higher load means fewer trips and shorter lines to the ticket booth,” Recto said. With a report from Miguel R. Camus

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TAGS: Metro Rail Transit, MRT, Transportation
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