AMID traffic woes aggravated by erratic operations of the Light Railway Transit 2, President Duterte’s spokesman advised the public to leave early so they would not be late for work, class, or other appointments.
The LRT 2 started partial operations yesterday, operating from the Cubao station in Quezon City to Recto station in Manila and vice versa from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Santolan to Anonas station will be closed for about nine months to undergo rehabilitation.
LRT 2 operations shut down on Thursday last week after its rectifier-transformer, located between the Katipunan and Anonas stations, tripped and caught fire.
LRT 2 commuters interviewed by media are saying they have to leave their homes at least an hour or two than usual, and return home also hours later than usual.
Seen adding to the problem is the approaching Christmas season when traffic usually gets worse.
Duterte’s spokesman, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, said despite the traffic problem, especially in Metro Manila, there is no mass transport crisis in the country.
He said proof of this is that commuters and travelers are still able to reach their destinations despite the traffic situation.
“Makakarating pa naman, iyung mga dapat makarating sa kanilang pupuntahan (They are still able to reach their destination),” he said.
Asked how long it would take to reach one place, Panelo said the solution is to leave early for an appointment.
“May solusyon naman doon eh. If you want to go, arrive early in your destination, then you go there earlier (There is a solution there. If you want to go, arrive early in your destination, then you go there earlier),” he said.
Panelo made the statements following a Deutsche Bank study conducted in May, which ranked the Philippines 51st out of 56 countries in terms of the quality of life based on the traffic commute time.
The Philippines is one of the countries with the lowest quality of life after scoring low rankings across different indices like health care (45th), property price to income ratio (45th), safety (46th), climate (47th), purchasing power (53rd), pollution (54th) and traffic commute time (51st).
Panelo also said that despite some problems, there are still mass transport systems that the public could avail of like the light rail transit (LRT) system.
According to Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesman Hernando Cabrera, only five trains were deployed during the operation yesterday, compared to eight to nine trains during normal operations.
The first trip rolled off at about 6 a.m. while the last trip from Cubao is 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. from Recto Station.
Earlier, LRTA administrator Reynaldo Berroya appealed to passengers “to allot an additional hour for their journeys since speed restrictions and a limited number of trains will be fielded to ensure passenger safety and the sufficiency of the power supply coming from the remaining rectifier substations.”
In the statement of the LRTA released on Monday night, point-to-point buses will be deployed at Masinag, Emerald and Santolan stations to and from Legarda.
Also, around 40 modernized public utility vehicles (PUVs) will ferry affected passengers from Santolan to Legarda with the bus service loop located at Santolan, Katipunan, Anonas and Cubao.
Both will operate from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with a fare of P15 from Santolan to Cubao and P25 from Masinag to Legarda .
Berroya assured the public that the LRTA is doing its best to meet the time frame of six to nine months to restore the full operation of the system.
The Metro Manila Development Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard will still provide free bus rides from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Santolan to Cubao and vice versa.
MMDA also lifted the “number-coding” scheme for the Cainta-Quiapo public utility buses only, which started yesterday. It will take effect until the normal operations of the LRT-2 resumes to assist the affected passengers.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran refuted the claim of the militant group Bayan that there is a mass transportation crisis.
Libiran said there have been significant improvements in the train systems such as the decline in the number of unloading incidents of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), where there are 587 incidents in 2016 compared to the 57 recorded in 2018.
She also added that the ongoing construction of Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) and the extensions of LRT-2, Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and the Philippine National Railway (PNR) are proof that there is improvement. – With Rod Lagusad