The Philippine Star
Phl railway systems ‘way behind’ international standards — LRTA exec
The country’s decades-old railway systems are way behind the quality of those of its Asian neighbors and well below international standards, an official of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) has admitted before lawmakers.
“We are actually behind international standards in terms of the gap or sequence of trains. In Korea, I think they have it at 45 seconds. But in international standards, it’s between one to three minutes,” Hernando Cabrera, project engineer of LRTA, said.
He conceded before the transportation committee of the House of Representatives, led by Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, that it normally takes the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines and coaches seven to 10 minutes, sometimes even longer, for the next train to arrive.
“But we’re doing something about it now,” Cabrera, a lawyer by profession said recently, referring to the LRT1 line (Baclaran-Monumento route) that is now 35 years old, LRT-2 (Marikina-Divisoria route) that is 16 and the MRT-3 (EDSA stretch) which is two decades old.
Sarmiento lamented how the train systems cannot be interconnected due to differences in structure as these were built by different brands from different countries.
“Chopsuey tayo eh. Please take note of the rolling stock. And we have three train systems that have different brands and from different countries – from China, Europe, Germany etc,” Sarmiento said. “We can’t even interconnect them, they have different tracks.”
“We cannot even use our Dalian trains from China because they don’t even fit,” he added.
The lawmaker added that the current traffic situation amounts to a “serious crisis” and called on the transport sector to take necessary actions.
‘Park & Ride’ scheme in malls
Big shopping malls in Metro Manila and in major cities nationwide where traffic is prevalent, should allow motorists to park their vehicles inside malls so as to lessen traffic as the holiday season approaches, according to Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon.
“I suggest that you discuss with mall owners the concept of Park and Ride. That’s one way of freeing the roads. All these ideas are meant to reduce most of the vehicles on the roads which are contributing much to the traffic along our major thoroughfares,” he pointed out.
Biazon sought to address the issue to both the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) whose jurisdiction covers the archipelago, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for the entire capital.
DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing was receptive to the idea. “We will suggest that (Park and Ride) to LGUs (local government units), especially for this coming holiday season,” he told members of the Sarmiento committee.
Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu made a similar pitch, saying putting up multi-level parking buildings in each of the LRT or MRT stations will somehow ease the horrendous traffic not just the commuters suffer, but motorists as well.
“We have to make our train systems more efficient. That is the true test of a developed economy,” Abu said as he pointed out that having the most number of cars is not the real barometer for a country’s affluence, but for its citizens’ ability to avail themselves of mass transport.
In first-world economies like Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, even the rich get to ride the trains along with the working class.