It’s time for priority to be given to commuters — the workers who are the lifeblood of industry, the students who are the future of our nation, and the citizens whose daily grind contributes to economic activity
Metro Manila is known for its exciting cultural attractions, vibrant businesses — and notorious traffic jams and poor public transportation.
What’s also bad is that transportation costs have more than doubled since the start of Putin’s war on Ukraine.
What’s worse is that salaries have been left behind, unable to compensate for inflation and rise in prices.
In this hellish urban landscape, the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) and LRT (Light Rail Transit) systems serve as lifelines for commuters navigating the city. However, their current reach is limited, leaving many areas underserved.
So what’s a Filipino commuter to do?
One solution that we wish had been better managed is the train system.
MRT and LRT systems primarily cover central areas, creating a gap in accessibility for commuters residing in the city’s outskirts.
These are the bedroom communities that are feeder areas for the urban centers – ‘feeder’ meaning they feed economic growth elsewhere.
The MRT-3, which spans from North Avenue to Taft Avenue, serves a critical north-south corridor, while LRT-1 and LRT-2 connect east and west routes respectively.
The former goes to Baclaran in the south and the latter to Antipolo in the east.
Despite their importance, these lines are limited in their coverage, leaving numerous communities with inadequate transportation options.
Some of the train lines are being extended – we commuters see the construction work going on – but what’s the reach and when will we be able to use them?
The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) has an update on their website that’s as of August 31, 2023.
The 17-page report lists rehabilitation projects on LRT Lines 1 and 2, related to the repair of “deteriorating rolling stocks, tracks, and facilities.”
Good news for seniors, PWDs, and the out-of-shape: 45 new escalators will be or have been installed, and 32 elevators and 58 more escalators repaired.
Meanwhile, roofing systems have been replaced in some areas along LRT 2, as well as the improvement of stations and facilities, and many other activities.
What interested me most, though, was getting updates on the line extensions.
The Marikina and Antipolo stations on LRT are 99.91 percent done. Beyond Recto station, three more stations are being built – Tutuban, Divisoria, and Pier 4. This project is only 1.3 percent completed, despite having a project timeline ending 4Q-2023.
Meanwhile, LRT 1’s eight-station Cavite extension, with provision for two more stations, is “physically 86.61 percent completed (grantor’s component) and 92.60 percent completed (private sector/concessionaire’s component).”
From Baclaran, the line will go to Bacoor, Cavite (Niog station). The official timeline for this is 4Q-2023, but other sources mention partial operations to start in late 2024 or early 2025.
There was a proposal to extend the LRT 1 from Bacoor to Dasmariñas (the so-called LRT Line 6), but nothing has been heard of this yet.
This and the other Line 6 proposals should be decided on as soon as possible to give transportation relief to commuters farther down south.
Inhinyero.org, a science and engineering page on Facebook, has shared a map that shows the ongoing construction of the LRT 1 Cavite extension (discussed in the previous paragraph), MRT Line 7 (North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan), Metro Manila Subway (East Valenzuela to NAIA Terminal 3), and the North-South Commuter Railway (NCSR) or the Clark-Calamba Railway.
When the latter is completed, it will replace the existing Philippine National Railways Metro Commuter line.
What are the benefits of expanding train lines?
First, improved commute times that would result in increased productivity and less stress for daily travelers.
There would be reduced road congestion as more commuters ditch their cars and opt for the efficient and reliable train system.
Extended train lines would also provide accessibility to those in less urban areas to employment centers in the central business districts.
Environmental benefits are another plus, as mass transit systems produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-kilometer traveled compared to private vehicles.
Improved connectivity would also spur economic growth in underserved areas, attracting investments and fostering the development of local businesses and industries. An expanded train network also provides social inclusion, giving marginalized communities access to affordable and efficient transportation that will help them get better jobs in urban areas, and reducing disparities in urban development.
A reliable and extensive train system can also potentially reduce road accidents and casualties, contributing to overall safety in the city.
In this age of climate change, promoting sustainable transportation options is crucial, aligning with multiple sustainable development goals, including SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (climate action).
Metro Manila faces its share of environmental challenges, including air pollution and increased vulnerability to natural disasters.
Expanding the MRT and LRT lines not only decreases the number of private vehicles on the road but also encourages the use of cleaner energy sources for train operations.
A well-connected train system can also reduce traffic-related air pollution, improving air quality and public health, which aligns with SDG 3 (good health and well-being).
It’s time for priority to be given to commuters — the workers who are the lifeblood of industry, the students who are the future of our nation, and the citizens whose daily grind contributes to economic activity.
All the projects mentioned above that are under construction – when will they actually be operational?
Filipinos are waiting. And waiting.
* * * FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org