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Finally, LRT-MRT

FINALLY, after years of squabbling, feuding, and meetings, Ayala, SM, and DoTr will sign the deal to build the LRT-MRT common station at North EDSA. The signing will be done on neutral ground on Jan. 18.

Not only will the linkup be of great convenience to commuters, it will also mean saving the Veterans Memorial Medical Center from predators with an eye on carving up the patch of green that is Quezon City’s last remaining forest-in-the-city. VMMC was snatched from the jaws of death by the May 2016 elections, and just in the nick of time, as there was no more time for the then DoTC and DND to turn it over to private developers for what was euphemistically called a “transportation hub.” That project was supposed to help commuters who’d then be able to change trains without walking a mile, but veterans of wars and their dependents, hospital staff, nurses and doctors, plus two former Presidents (FVR and GMA) and some legislators, not to mention the most ordinary of citizens (including golfers) were up in arms against the idea. The “hub” would’ve added to the traffic slowdowns spawned by the two malls and the access road to NLEX.

So when Transportation Secretary Art Tugade announced Tuesday that “finally” the signing will be done in a hotel owned by neither the Sys nor the Ayalas, the question had to be asked: Will DoTr revive the transportation hub? His reply was an unequivocal “no” and his own question, “Hub?”

Stratcom, the IT provider, owns the source code but under the agreement it will surrender its data base upon payment of arrears (to be determined by the Commission on Audit – it’s been nine years). “Stratcom may take part in the bidding,” Mr. Tugade said.

It will be two and a half years before the common station is built and commuters will enjoy the ride, so to speak. In the meantime, driver licenses, all three million in the backlog, will be released by March or April, to be followed by the new five-year licenses. Also pending, 30,000 applications for Uber. I have yet to take an Uber, so I cannot imagine what life will be like with 70,000 old and new Ubers on the road. (Jullie Y. Daza)