SAMAR Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento has asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to fast-track its goal of having 20 operational trains for the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3).
Sarmiento expressed fears the Metro Manila’s traffic woes would deteriorate further with the onset of the Christmas season.
Based on experience, Sarmiento said traffic in EDSA and most of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares are its worst from November to December because of the Christmas rush. It is estimated that the Philippines is losing P3.5-billion in economic opportunities due to the Metro Manila’s “carmageddon.”
With the ongoing massive construction projects for the extension of LRT Line 1 and 2, the MRT 7, the Skyway extension and other major road works all over the metropolis, Sarmiento said Metro Manila should brace for full blown transportation crisis if the government fails to increase the capacity of its train systems and improve their operational efficiency.
Sarmiento noted that while there has been a marked improvement regarding the operation of MRT 3 following the decision of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to replace its bungling maintenance service provider, capacity remains the biggest challenge that must be addressed before the Christmas rush sets in.
“We expect traffic to really get worse as we approach the Christmas season so the government should really step up efforts to increase the capacity of its trains especially the MRT 3. With all the big construction projects going on all over the metropolis, traffic will get even worse and the only solution to this is to improve our train systems. If we can increase the capacity of our trains, people might just prefer riding on a train than being stuck on EDSA in their cars or in the bus,” he added.
Instead of going back from scratch for the rehabilitation of the MRT 3 amid controversies involving the purchase of trains by the past administration from the Chinese Dalian Corp., Sarmiento said the DOTr should consider deploying them even only for the duration of the Holiday season without sacrificing the safety of its passengers.
“The DOTr should really look at the possibility of using these Dalian trains. The trains are available and ready to roll. They just have to run all the necessary safety tests to ensure that using these additional trains would not endanger the lives and limbs of our passengers. Safety should remain as the highest concern of the DOTr if and when it decides to use the Dalian trains to augment its fleet in time for Christmas rush,” said Sarmiento.
A total of 48 Dalian train coaches purchased by the past administration but are gathering dust at the MRT 3 depot pending technical adjustments to make them compatible with the rest of the MRT 3 fleet.
Sarmiento said activating the 48 Dalian coaches would translate to an additional 12 trains in addition to the 15 trains that are operational.
Although still not very ideal, deploying extra 12 trains would ensure that MRT 3 can have a decent capacity during the holiday season.
He noted that if the DOTr wants a headway of one minute and 30 seconds between trains in 1 hour, it needs to have 20 trains per direction.
“More than ever, the MRT 3 must have less glitches as possible. It will be the transportation of choice this holiday rush because there’s no doubt in my mind that traffic in EDSA and other major Metro Manila highways would go from bad to worse,” said Sarmiento.
“They could do commuters a big-time favor by fielding the 12 additional trains as soon as possible. More trains mean shorter interval time between train arrivals and overall better efficiency. Malaking ginhawa po ito sa panahon kung saan ang lahat ay nagtitipid,” Sarmiento added.