The Philippine Star

Phl rail­way sys­tems ‘way be­hind’ in­ter­na­tional stan­dards — LRTA exec

- – Delon Por­calla South Korea · Congress of the United States · Los Angeles Metro Rail · Mass Rapid Transit · Marikina · Manila · Western Sahara · China · Europe · European Union · Germany · Metro Manila · Muntinlupa City · Ruffy Biazon · United States Department of the Interior · Japan · Singapore · Hong Kong · Light Rail Transit Authority · Dalian · Philippines Department of the Interior and Local Government

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.

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