The MRT system in the Philippines is now a joke and a real highlight of what corruption and greed does to the public services and shows what ordinary tax paying Filipinos have to endure.
The system was suppose to help people travel to and from work from the outside areas of Manila and thus relieving the severe congestion of the Manila roads.
The tracks have been stolen and the carriages are so bad now that rain comes in from the roof. The number of serviceable trains is now assumed down to only eight from an original 20. There are regular crashes and people die and the number of people squeezed into a train is well above the rules and regulations. Hey, this is the Philippines!
The Metro Railway Transit (MRT-3) said it will provide excuse slips to commuters who will arrive late to school or work because of disruptions in the train system.
But even in getting the incident report stating the date, time, reason and location where the problem took place, affected passengers will still have to wait for at least four to five days to secure the document.
The move of the MRT management was quickly criticized by militant and commuters’ groups, saying issuing excuse slips would not solve the problems faced by the riding public every day.
“This would not fix the problem. The institutional acceptance of the MRT-3’s failures as a privatized utility would not make the trains any more efficient. You do not put a band-aid over a stab wound,” said James Relativo, spokesman of the commuters’ group Train Riders Network.
Bayan-Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate called the measure a “pathetic way of evading the real issue.”
“Other countries such as Japan and the US had practiced the system of giving out excuse slips for tardy passengers, where the wintry weather or malfunctions cause occasional delays on train operations. However, here in the Philippines, where the problem is the maintenance and the meager number of trains, being late for work is an everyday situation for MRT commuters. I could imagine they would be swamped by requests for excuse letters if this becomes a practice,” Zarate said.
A total of 3.48 injuries were recorded for every 100 million passenger-miles of the MRT in 2013, which is 2.78 higher than the 0.7 injuries in US trains, according to Archie Orillosa of Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM).
“Management failure caused all these breakdowns and glitches,” he said.
Compared were the 2003 to 2008 US FTA data and the 2013 to June 2015 data of AGHAM’s tally from the news and on the MRT’s official website, Orillosa said.
“This was made to compare the same age of the US trains and the MRT,” he said.
During the 2003 to 2008 period, US trains were 15 to 16 years old, the same age of the MRT during 2013 to June 2015, Orillosa said.
Since 2013 the frequency of glitches has been increasing, Orillosa said.
APT Global spokesman Bing Zaide said maintenance is not the problem of the MRT as the trains should be rehabilitated.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has tapped a German-Filipino group to maintain the trains, depot equipment, and signaling system of the ageing Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3).
The DOTC awarded last week a P131.28 million contract for the upkeep of MRT-3 to the joint venture of Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH and Comm Builders & Technology Philippines Corp. starting July 5.
The six-month contract, which covers rolling stocks, depot equipment, and signaling, is the largest component of the MRT-3 maintenance requirement.
SBI is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of high-quality power transmission railway equipment while CB&T is part of the joint venture currently maintaining the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) system.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier explained the DOTC is procuring maintenance sub-contractors directly under a multi-disciplinary approach to enhance the efficiency of maintenance works per component while it is preparing the three-year maintenance contract for procurement.
Abaya said the agency’s two previous attempts to bid out a long-term maintenance contract both resulted in failure due to the non-participation of bidders.