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February 19, 2014

DOTC: Brand new MRT coaches may help ease traffic by 2015

With Metro Manila traffic expected to worsen further over the next few years due to the implementation of multiple infrastructure projects, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is hoping that it will finally be allowed to add 48 brand new Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) to the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3) system at the soonest possible time.

“We hope that the order preventing us from adding brand new LRVs will be lifted immediately, for the public’s sake. The DOTC will be able to increase MRT-3’s capacity within 2 to 3 years starting from the time that the court allows us to proceed. Since more passengers will be able to take the train, EDSA traffic should be mitigated considerably,” said DOTC Spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal.

The transport agency’s MRT-3 Capacity Expansion Project involves the purchase of 48 brand new LRVs through an open and transparent bidding process conducted last year. After the contract was awarded to China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company in January, however, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati issued a Temporary Order of Protection (TOP) to halt the process.

The Project will increase MRT-3’s trips per hour from 20 to 24, which will translate to a 60% increase in the number of passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD). This means that, from the current 23,640 people who can avail of the rail service every hour heading towards one direction, the Project will make it possible for 37,824 passengers to enjoy this convenience.

Currently, the rail line’s average daily ridership is already over 560,000, and its highest single-day passenger count is 620,000. The Project will not only help ease the gridlock on EDSA, it will also make the MRT-3 experience much more bearable for its riders.

Sagcal clarified that “the Project will take 2 to 3 years to complete because the LRVs will still be manufactured. A prototype will be tested on the system within 12 to 18 months, followed by the delivery of 3-4 units per succeeding month. This means that traffic decongestion can already start by 2015. All we’re waiting for is the court’s go signal.”

On 30 January 2014, the Makati RTC issued the TOP in favor of MRT Holdings II, Inc., which claims to own and control 100% of the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC). MRTC owns the MRT facilities pursuant to its 1997 concession agreement with government.

MRTC’s Board of Directors has since confirmed that the filing of this injunctive suit was unauthorized, and the DOTC has pointed out that it has no contractual relationship with MRT Holdings II.

The transportation department believes that it has sufficient legal grounds to proceed with the addition of new LRVs in line with public interest. The Project is urgently needed after MRTC failed to add any LRVs to the rail system despite DOTC’s demands for it do so since 2007.

(From the Department of Transportation and Communications

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