Jovic Yee | Philippine Daily Inquirer | November 21, 2017
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Monday rejected calls for the temporary suspension of Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) operations, saying it would only further worsen traffic flow on Edsa.
Jojo Garcia, MMDA assistant general manager for planning, said the agency was "definitely not prepared" to handle the close to half a million commuters who would be displaced by the temporary shutdown of the breakdown-prone MRT 3.
"That's 500,000 commuters. How can you prepare? You're talking about 10,000 additional buses [on the road]," Garcia pointed out.
According to him, shutting down the busiest train system in Metro Manila will only cause heavier traffic on Edsa.
Even with the MRT 3 operating, traffic on Edsa slows down to a crawl, especially during rush hour. Based on the MMDA's data, around 7,500 cars traverse the major thoroughfare per hour per direction, way beyond its carrying capacity of just 6,000 vehicles.
Last week, Sen. Grace Poe called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to consider halting the MRT 3's operations to give way to repairs following repeated breakdowns and glitches.
On Thursday, the last car of an MRT 3 train got detached from the two front cars, resulting in the off-loading of around 140 passengers who were forced to walk back to Ayala station in Makati City. In the previous weeks, numerous breakdowns occurred, mostly due to technical problems.
Instead of shutting down the MRT 3, former North Rail executive and rail expert Rene Santiago suggested that train operations be limited to just six days a week.
This would allow extensive maintenance work to be done on the trains that carry an estimated 500,000 passengers daily, more than its carrying capacity of over 300,000 passengers.
While the National Bureau of Investigation is already looking into last week's decoupling incident, the DOTr said that it was "pursuing multiple options for getting a competent, qualified and experienced maintenance service provider" to address the MRT 3's problems.
"The DOTr already granted original proponent status of an unsolicited proposal [from Metro Pacific Investments Corp.] for the rehabilitation, operations and maintenance of MRT 3. This is expected to solve the historical fragmented approach of running MRT 3 (separate owner, different maintenance provider and different operator), which has contributed to the system's current condition," it added in a statement.
Once implemented, the DOTr said this would "restore MRT 3's reliability and double its capacity in the medium to long-term."