To give the public another option to beat traffic, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3) Office will extend the operating hours of the metropolis’ most utilized urban rail transit system starting on 24 February 2014.
The longer hours of service will be tested for one month to determine whether it will be viable in the long run.
“This is part of our program to mitigate the traffic situation. Based on the test run, we will monitor how much passengers are willing to alter their riding habits by commuting earlier in the morning or later in the evening. We will also see whether this will encourage motorists to take the train instead of their cars,” said DOTC SpokespersonMichael Arthur Sagcal.
Currently, the rail system’s regular hours of operation are from 5:30am to 10:30pm. For the first 2 work weeks, or from February 24 until March 7, the MRT-3 Office will start operations at 4:30am from the North Avenue station and 5:00am from the Taft Avenue station.
In the 2 following work weeks, or from March 10 to 21, it will also extend the evening runs up to 10:30pm from the North Avenue station and 11:00pm from the Taft Avenue station, in addition to the earlier opening hours.
After the 4-week testing period, the MRT-3 Office will make its recommendation to the DOTC on whether the extended operating hours may be regularized, based on its impact on commuters, daily train maintenance requirements, and the additional cost of operation.
“Our limitations are on maintenance and costs. For maintenance, the coaches have to be checked every night to ensure safety. It seems that we will be able to shorten the turnover process without compromising actual maintenance hours. As for costs, the testing period will allow us to project how much more we need to spend to make it sustainable over time,” Sagcal explained.
“As always, we are looking for ways to serve the public better. We want to deliver convenient, efficient, and safe transportation options, especially with government’s push to improve infrastructure over the next few years,” he added.
The DOTC has previously announced that the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will begin its Special Coach service to ply the Tutuban to Sta. Rosa route as another mitigating step to help ease traffic. Together with the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), it is now also finalizing options through which LRT Lines 1 and 2 can accommodate more travellers who will be affected by the various construction works in Metro Manila.