By Melissa Luz T. Lopez | Business World | June 10, 2015

THE INSTALLATION of a new train ticketing system for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 has been pushed back to July after the contract to put it up and other agreements to improve train service have yet to be finalized.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) made this announcement on Wednesday, clarifying that it will be unable to proceed with installing the new automated fare collection system (AFCS) until it finalizes two other agreements of the seven-part, multi-disciplinary contract, all of which were supposed to be finished this month.

Although the AFCS -- which will allow commuters to use one ticket for Metro Manila’s three train systems -- has already been awarded to Futurelogic Corp., the timetable for the other contracts have been delayed again, MRT-3 General Manager Roman A. Buenafe said. His office encountered issues on the bidding for the Power and Overhead Catenary Systems and the Rolling Stocks and Signaling components of the maintenance contract.

“I am looking at the whole of June to resolve two remaining disciplines to implement by July 5,” Mr. Buenafe told lawmakers during yesterday’s hearing of the House committee on transportation.

The contracts cover a six-month period, which would end Dec. 5 if it follows the current schedule.

“We also need a clearer system for transition activities from the current (service provider) which is the APT Global to the multi-discipline one,” Mr. Buenafe said separately.

Pressed for details, Mr. Buenafe said the bidder for the power system -- the overhead cables that supply electricity for the trains -- withdrew last Tuesday, citing differences with the project’s terms of reference.

“The contractor informed us belatedly. If this happened earlier, I could have looked for alternatives,” Mr. Buenafe said in a separate interview, adding that the rest of June would be used to address remaining issues.

The rolling stocks component is also under protest for questions of eligibility during the procurement process, Mr. Buenafe said.

Besides the ticketing system supplier, winning bidders for the other components of the divided contracts -- namely for accessibility and conveyance, buildings and facilities, tracks, and communications -- have already been given a notice of award, Mr. Buenafe said.

Since September, the DoTC has tapped the Artre Porte Technique (APT) Global, Inc. as a temporary maintenance contractor at a monthly rate of P57 million, pending award of a permanent contract to a bidder.

The government has paid only under P60 million to the maintenance provider for its service from September to November last year, as deductions were in order for violating contract terms, Mr. Buenafe said.

The fines were imposed after the firm was unable to keep at least 20 trains running per day, causing long commuter queues.

The agency is targeting to issue notices to proceed to all seven suppliers by July 5, which is a day after the monthly contract with APT Global is set to be renewed.

The short-term contracts will be in place while the agency is working on the bidding of a longer maintenance contract for the MRT-3, Mr. Buenafe said, which first needs to secure approvals from the Government Procurement Policy Board and the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority.

The complete maintenance contract will cost P4.2 billion for a three-year period, and will include the general overhaul and the replacement of the train signaling system, Mr. Buenafe said.