A transport official was in a self-congratulatory mood last week, trumpeting the fact that for seven days between Feb.21 and Feb. 28, they recorded no glitches whatsoever in the Metro Rail Transit 3.
The media officer, Aly Narvaez, said this was the longest streak since the Maintenance Transition Team replaced Busan Universal Rail Inc. There was a significant decline, she said, in service interruptions, unloading incidents and train removals.
Spare parts for the coaches had started arriving, she said, and they had begun installing these without disrupting operations. More replacements will be done later this month, during the Holy Week.
Narvaez had glowing words for the agency: “This shows that we do not sacrifice the quality of our operational and maintenance services while in parallel, we work on urgent action plans and solutions such as procurement of spare parts, capacity expansion, and the mobilization of our new rehab and maintenance service provider.”
Alas, she spoke too soon.
On rush hour Monday, March 5, a southbound train again unloaded passengers because of a vague cause called “system failure.” Specifically, worn-out automatic train protection sub-components, particularly the sensor, caused the disruption.
Soon after, it was reported that there were only eight trains running that day.
The public has had way too many and too horrible experiences with the MRT that any self-serving statements will be deemed premature and bound to fail. We have lost count of the times the trains encountered some failure, inconvenienced passengers if not put them in danger.
The deterioration did not happen overnight. Rather, it was the result of a series of ill-advised and suspicious decisions across several leaderships.
In the same way, fixing the MRT will also not happen instantly. Perhaps this administration took the first step and booted out a patently incompetent contractor. We understand that the current crop of officials are finally doing something—even as they should really have started upon appointment, without waiting for the public’s outrage.
These efforts will take time to bear fruit. Thus, announcement of small achievements realized over a short period of time will only sound silly and self-serving.
Transport officials must know that big words no longer inspire confidence among us—only steady results will.