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MRT work raises hopes for EDSA

THERE is good news from the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) which runs along Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) from North Ave. in Quezon City to Taft Ave. in Pasay City.

The new MRT Officer-in-Charge Deo Leo Manalo said it has raised the number of operating trains to 22, from only 13 last year. By the middle of this month, he said, MRT was averaging 470,000 passengers a day – a 25 percent increase from January. It hit 509,492 on November 18, the highest recorded ridership; the previous record was 415,819 last January 22.

He attributed the improvement in the number of trains to the work being done by its new maintenance firm, the Filipino-Korean joint venture Busan Universal Rail, Inc., starting last January. A team of Korean engineers helped Filipino engineers and technicians who overhauled 43 of the MRT’s 73 light rail vehicles.

Only a few months ago, the MRT became notorious for its long passenger queues, such that Sen. Grace Poe led a Senate investigation after joining one such queue herself. Queus often extended two to three blocks. There were trains breaking down along the route, forcing passengers to walk along the tracks to reach one of the 13 stations along its 16.9-kilometer route.

In the investigation into the perennial traffic jam along EDSA, MRT was seen as a big contributor to the problem. If it could only run efficiently, it would absorb so many of the people who have to ride buses and private cars to get to work or to school every day. Other areas of Metro Manila are served by other rail systems, notably the Light Rail Transit (LRT) from Monumento in Caloocan City down to Pasay City in the South. But it seems the traffic problem is worst along EDSA; hence the focus on MRT.

The problem of EDSA traffic remains unsolved to this day. The Department of Transportation awaits the granting of emergency powers by the Congress of the Philippines to enable it to carry out some of its proposed solutions. Pending the grant of these emergency powers, it seems not much is being done to ease EDSA traffic.

There may be plans for a comprehensive solution to jammed traffic not only in Metro Manila but also in Cebu and other population centers in the South, but that may take years to complete and carry out. The work being done at MRT raises hope that even without the awaited emergency powers, various agencies and organizations can make their individual contributions now to ease the traffic along EDSA.

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