Manila Standard Today | Aug. 15, 2014

The rail mishap Wednesday in which a train of the Metro Rail Transit-3 crashed into its barrier reflects government’s poor maintenance of the transportation system.

The MRT-3 along Edsa is often beset by technical and mechanical problems, with some of the rail cars halting abruptly in the middle of the track and passengers forced to wait it out until they are fixed.

The private sector has offered to maintain MRT-3 prior to its eventual privatization, but the Transportation Department has turned down the proposal despite government’s poor record in running the rail system. Budgetary constraints and low revenues from MRT-3 have partially prevented the government from keeping the rail system in tip-top condition.

The Transportation Department and Malacañang should now revisit their future plans on MRT-3 in the wake of Wednesday’s incident. In the meantime, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya should speed up the deployment of more rail cars to ease congestion in the stations.

The MRT-3 has been unable to meet the demand of the increasing number of passengers riding the system. Early morning queues that stretch nearly a kilometer at the northern end of the rail is doing a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of Filipino commuters. Outdated rail cars are compounding the miseries of riders.

The light rail system by far is the cheapest and the fastest mode of transportation in the capital region. Millions of workers depend on it, especially during rush hours, given the poor traffic management in the metropolis.

The rail system, however, will only be dependable if the operator maintains it properly. The government must see to it that the rail system is working efficiently with little inconvenience to the passengers.

A long-term solution to upgrade the system has become imperative. That solution should not exclude its privatization, given the limited financial resources of the government.

Unless the government comes up with a credible answer to the persistent problems bugging the operations of MRT-3,  its poor maintenance is an accident waiting to happen.