By TJ Burgonio | Philippine Daily Inquirer | April 12, 2014
He’s sorry—but he still won’t take the train or the bus.
Scorned and skewered in the social media, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Friday apologized for suggesting that the long-suffering riders of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) take the bus instead to avoid the long queues at the train stations.
“We’re asking for patience or understanding because of a misimpression arising from that single answer,” Coloma said in a Malacañang briefing.
Coloma explained that his suggestion wasn’t the gist of his position since he had always stressed the need for an effective solution to the travails of MRT commuters.
The Palace official drew a barrage of vitriol from netizens over his suggestion the other day that MRT commuters take other modes of transport such as buses, saying the train line on Edsa wasn’t the only ride available.
Some of the online comments called it an “irresponsible” statement from someone with a “crooked” thinking. Others found it “insensitive,” reminding him that taking the MRT was supposed to be “the alternative.”
For the past few years, MRT commuters have been enduring long lines at the stations due to lack of trains especially on rush hours. In a Senate inquiry last week, MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol said the 15-year-old railway started exceeding its designed capacity of 320,000 passengers daily as early as 2004 and now moves about half a million riders a day.
Vitangcol then said additional trains won’t start arriving until late 2015 or early 2016.
Coloma, however, rejected calls for him to try commuting to work either by train or bus. “We used to take that mode of transportation for some time. It’s not every day that we ride private cars,” he said.
Besides, he said, he directly dealt with issues concerning the mass transport system when he served as undersecretary for land transportation from 1989 to 1990 during the Cory Aquino administration.
“At one time, I had the opportunity to directly supervise the Light Rail Transit Administration. And I guess it won’t be too much to say that we understand the situation prevailing there,” he said.