Chrisee Dela Paz | Rappler | October 13, 2016

The first 100 days of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade are marked by initiatives to decongest the country's premier airport as well as an 'unchanged' state of MRT3 and EDSA traffic. They also give a glimpse of what lies ahead.

On June 30, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade took his oath alongside other members of the Duterte Cabinet and promised increased MRT3 capacity, slashed processing times at all attached agencies, and a slight easing of EDSA traffic, among others, as his immediate goals.

A hundred days later, Tugade faced the media to report on his department's accomplishments, so far, but also admitted some unfulfilled promises.

Tugade and the transportation department cited the elimination of the "laglag bala" or bullet-planting incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the end of the legal battle involving the MRT-MRT common station deal, fewer flight delays, faster Wi-Fi access in 23 public transport sites, and cleaner NAIA toilets, among others.

Some transportation experts, however said that these accomplishments fall below public expectations.

"They have stared at the problems and challenges, and believe they have the answers. It may be unfair to expect a quick ramp up the learning curve within 100 days, but they raised public expectations too much," Rene Santiago, president of Bellwhether Advisory Incorporated, said in an e-mail correspondence.

"I give them thumbs up on the NAIA congestion; thumbs down on MRT3 and EDSA traffic. They are simply driving, albeit a bit more aggressive, on the same dead-end roads that the previous administration has take with regards to MRT3 and EDSA," Santiago told Rappler..

For Jose Regin Regidor, a research fellow at the National Center for Transportation Studies of the University of the Philippines (UP NCTS), the department "did pretty well" given how short the period was.

Although he noted "significant" improvements at NAIA, Regidor said that MRT3 and EDSA traffic are "still work in progress."

Increasing MRT3 capacity


In the face of public criticism due to the railway system's substandard and sometimes perilous service, the Aquino administration ordered 48 new MRT3 cars from Chinese supplier Dalian Locomotive.

Continuing what has been done, Tugade promised to increase the MRT3's speed to 50 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the current 40 km/h, and passenger per hour per destination to 15,760 from 14,184.

Within his first 100 days, the transportation czar said his department will increase MRT3 trains to 20 with 60 cars, from the current 16 with 48 cars.

Transportation Undersecretary Noel Kintanar also vowed to fix the system's signalling system within the first 100 days.

Other than these MRT3 basic maintenance fixes and upgrades, Tugade also promised to resolve the common ctation issue.

Done so far

Only a few of these 100-day targets have been achieved.

In its 100-day accomplishment report released to the media, the DOTr said that the are still 16 MRT working trains, while the speed increased only to 45 km/h from 40 km/h. It added that there is an "ongoing purchase of signaling system and power source to deploy more cars by 3rd quarter of 2017."

The department also noted the finalized common station plan that will connect Light Rail Transit Line 1, MRT3, and MRT Line 7.

What's next

Moving forward, 8 rail public-private partnership (PPP) deals are tabled for bidding: Mass Transit System Loop or LRT Line 5, LRT1 Cavite Extension, LRT2 operations and maintenance (O&M), LRT Line 4, LRT Line 6, MRT7, and the extension of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) to Clark, Pampanga, and to Los Baños, Laguna

On the sidelines of a forum in August, Kintanar said the transportation department is carefully looking at the bankability of the projects before tendering them.

"We should make sure that it is financially viable for the private investors," the transportation official had said.

"What we want to achieve in the next 6 years is to get the process going regardless of whatever happens in the next administration. It's important that the projects are on the ground. Obviously, we want to finish it sooner rather than later," Kintanar added, without disclosing timetables for each PPP deal.