By Llanesca T. Panti with Jayson Cruz Luna | The Manila Times | June 19, 2015

The four maintenance contractors of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 all have poor reputation, according to Bayan Muna party-list lawmakers.

House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarate on Friday identified the four contractors as Jorgman-Korail- Erin Marty Joint Venture (P23.9 million for general maintenance of rails); Global Epcom Services Inc. (P23.35 million for maintenance of stations, depots and other infrastructure); Trilink Technologies Inc. (P7.28 million for upgrade and maintainance of  communications systems to improve operations coordination); and Future Logic Corporation (P 6.95 million for maintenance and general management of all Automatic Fare Collection Systems (AFCSs), software and spare parts).

Colmenares said Jorgman-Korail- Erin Marty Joint Venture was almost blacklisted in 2013 by the management of Light Rail Transit 1 because it took months before it was able to start its rail replacement project for LRT 1.

Global Epcom Services Inc. and Future Logic Corporation are  part  of Global-APT, the contractor that now handles operations and maintenance of MRT 3, whose trains are reported to bog down at least twice in a week during rush hours.

Colmenares questioned  the government’s decision to enter into a contract for an AFCS when, he said, the Ayala group already bagged the deal last year.

“Why should the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communications] still reward Global-APT when they are the ones responsible for so many problems in the MRT 3? If the DOTC will not roll back the MRT 3 fare by July, then we will seriously consider filing administrative and criminal charges against the DOTC and Global-APT,” Colmenares, a lawyer, said.

The MRT 3 raised its fares in January this year.

From a maximum P15 from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay, City, the fare was raised to P28.

The MRT 3 ferries at least 500,000 passengers daily when it should be carrying only around 300,000 passengers everyday.

“The collision of  LRT 1 [coaches] in May, the derailment of the PNR [Philippine National Railways] in April, the daily appalling queues in the MRT 3 and the overall deterioration of our train systems should have been enough reason for the DOTC to act on the state and maintenance of our train systems,” Zarate, also a lawyer, said.

“But it [DOTC] has done nothing,” he added.

Zarate said the DOTC should not wait for a major train catastrophe before ensuring that the train systems are safe, properly maintained and with enough trains to service commuters.

“Palpak ang serbisyo. Mahal na, mapanganib pa. Kahit na itinaas ang singil sa MRT 3 ay bulok pa rin ang serbisyo [The service is screwed up. It’s expensive and dangerous. The people are being ripped off,” Colmenares said

Also on Friday, operation of LRT 1 was interrupted after one of its trains suddenly stopped at the Blumentritt (Santa Cruz, Manila) station in the morning.

Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesman and  lawyer Hernando Cabrera said the train bound for Baclaran (Pasay City) came to a halt at 7 a.m.

According to Anthony Bien of the LRTA Operation Center, the interruption was caused by decrease in air levels in the train system’s compressors.

Passengers were asked to disembark immediately after the incident.

Bien said normal operations resumed around 7:15 a.m.