Number of MRT 3 passengers falls by 35% as fewer trains run
In just over a week, the average number of passengers using the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) has fallen by 35 percent due mainly to the continuous decline in the condition and number of trains servicing the country’s busiest train system.
Data from the MRT 3 management showed that an average of only 297,000 passengers opted to use the train line from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1, lower by 35 percent than last year’s daily average of 463,000 passengers.
In the same period, the MRT 3 experienced six unloading incidents and had to remove its trains from service at least 13 times after they encountered technical problems.
Ideally, the MRT 3 should have 20 trains in service during peak hours. But when the Department of Transportation (DOTr) took over as the train system’s maintenance provider in November, the number was adjusted to 15 to supposedly give more time to check and repair the trains.
Over the last nine days, only 10 trains were deployed on the average.
At one point on Wednesday last week, the number of operational trains even dropped to just seven, resulting in longer queues and waiting time at the MRT 3’s 13 train stations.
Around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, only eight MRT 3 trains were running.
It took this reporter and hundreds of other northbound passengers at Magallanes station at least an hour to get inside the packed trains.
Busan Universal Rail Inc., the former MRT 3 maintenance service provider, said that the current worsening state of MRT 3 operations could largely be attributed to the indiscretion and impropriety of the DOTr officials in disrupting what was otherwise ideal maintenance service being instituted over the past year.
“The entire MRT 3 system has become not only unreliable but have put to great risk the lives and limbs of the riding public,” said lawyer Maricris Pahate, Buri’s spokesperson and legal counsel.
In a statement, Pahate said the DOTr and MRT officials’ almost daily pronouncements to the riding public were all grounded on sheer alibis and petty excuses, to the extent of laying blame, albeit unfounded, upon Buri for the present state of the MRT 3 system despite the fact that Buri’s contract with the DOTr was terminated almost three months ago.
“The continuing misleading information being issued by DOTr and MRT 3 officials are all aimed at placating and appeasing the riding public’s continuing indignation and fury brought about by the daily inconvenience they experience,” Pahate said.
According to Buri, since the government took over the maintenance operations of MRT 3, the safety of the riding public is no longer ensured.
Train breakages are a daily occurrence despite the DOTr not purchasing spare parts but instead resorting to the cannibalization of nonoperating trains.
“Less trains and shorter hours will only result in a big drop in revenue. Added operating hours during Buri resulted in added revenues amounting to over P100 million,” Pahate explained.
The DOTr’s efforts to find a solution to help resolve the mounting problems, unfortunately, are either disadvantageous to government or violative of the procurement law, rules and regulations, she added.
Earlier, the DOTr said that within the month, the public could expect improved service at the MRT 3 when the needed spare parts for the trains start arriving.
On Thursday, 50 Japanese railway engineers and experts also began their due diligence and audit of the MRT 3 to determine all the rehabilitation works needed by the train line, which will be done in May by a Japan International Cooperation Agency-nominated maintenance provider.
An audit of the 48 Dalian train cars by TUV Rheinland is also ongoing and is expected to be completed by April.
The DOTr earlier said that the P3.8-billion Chinese-made trains would only be deployed once the 10-man audit team had cleared them for public use.
In the meantime, transport authorities implemented anew on Thursday the MRT point-to-point bus service to help reduce the number of queuing passengers at the North Avenue and Quezon Avenue stations during the morning rush hour.
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.