‘Discardable’ common train station proposed
A former Aquino Cabinet member has offered to end the ordeal of commuters on LRT 1 and MRT 3 by building a “discardable” platform that will link the two light rails while two shopping mall titans are building a common station that will close a 1.2-kilometer gap on Metro Manila’s elevated railway.
Rogelio Singson, former public works and highways secretary and now president and CEO of Light Rail Manila (LRM), made the proposal during a public hearing on Wednesday of the House transportation committee on a P2.8-billion deal to construct the common station between SM North of the Sy family and TriNoma of the Ayalas.
The agreement was signed on Jan. 18 for the construction of the common station at Edsa and North Avenue in Quezon City. The common station would link LRT 1 from Caloocan, MRT 3, which goes to Makati City and Pasay City, and the proposed MRT 7, which will originate from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.
The project is scheduled for completion in three years, but lawmakers have balked at the government shouldering the cost. They want businesses that stand to gain from the deal—SM, Ayala and San Miguel Corp.—to foot the bill, or share it.
Singson proposed to build a “discardable” temporary train station connecting MRT 3 and LRT 1 in Quezon City, while the wait is on for the construction of the common station linking three train lines.
Two colleagues in the Aquino Cabinet who served as transport secretaries—Mar Roxas and Jun Abaya—have failed to connect the 1.2-km stretch of the MRT 3-LRT 1 lines, causing misery to commuters at both ends for nearly a decade.
“We studied it, and it seems that the construction of the common station will take long because of issues like the budget and a possible TRO (temporary restraining order), so we did study the possibility. We have made that offer to DOTr (Department of Transportation), so it’s up to the government to decide,” Singson said.
He estimated that the temporary station would cost LRM between P250 million and P280 million, and could be built in 10 to 12 months in front of SM North Edsa Annex. SM North had initially put up P200 million when the Arroyo administration decided to build the common station in front of SM Mall, but it hit a snag with the entry of the Ayalas.
Singson said the temporary station would not affect the construction of the proposed common station connecting the MRT and LRT that would be built between SM North Edsa and TriNoma.
“Once we’re given the go-signal, we hope to finish it within the year 2017. But of course, as I said, it depends on the government, whether they will accept our proposal. Then we will go back to our shareholders to decide,” he said.
Singson said the cost would not be passed on to commuters by way of fare increases.
“We will just need to operate that station for two-and-a-half to three years to recover the costs because of increased ridership. So it will not be passed on because under the concession agreement, there’s already a provision for regular fare increases,” he said.
All about public service
Once the common station has been built, however, the temporary one will have to be dismantled, he said, coining a Taglish word “tanggalable,” meaning discardable, to describe the arrangement.
“Of course, the better solution is the permanent station. But when is that going to happen? So it has to be decided by the government what it wants to do,” Singson said in reply to a comment that this would be wasteful.
“The best solution is a common station, no doubt. But when will it happen? In the meantime, if we’re really concerned about public service, we can put up a station immediately,” he said.
Singson said his primary concern was the convenience of train passengers.
“That’s our service. I’m not in the mall business. Of course, our shareholders are also involved in the common station. But otherwise, if it’s ridership we want, if it’s public service we want, we can put up a temporary station immediately,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.