#MRTStories: Looking into commuter problems on Philippines’ famous railway

March 11, 2019 - 7:24 PM
MRT interior
Interior of an MRT-3 coach. (Philstar/File photo)

The Department of Transportation playfully apologized to a commuter of the Metro Rail Transit System (MRT-3) who posted a complaint on social media about a train that was “inhumanly” cold.

The government agency shared a reaction from their “#MRTStories” posts that called out the MRT-3 management.

The “#MRTStories” is a hashtag that the agency uses to gather comments from commuters, as well as funny remarks, eventful commuting experiences or complaints.

Other commuters who saw the particular “#MRTStories” post shared their own experiences, claiming that there are other coaches with poor air-conditioning systems while there were those who commented that the commuter was exaggerating.

“May isang train bukod tangi nahina [sic] ang AC. Isalang na agad for replacement,” user Lawrence Santos wrote.

“OA, hindi naman lahat ng bagon… try niyo lahat para ayus!” user Jas Teen commented.

Meanwhile, there were those who affirmed the observation and claimed that the air-conditioning unit of MRT-3 seemed colder than the usual.

“On some trainset, yes,” user Yannick AR said.

“Oo nga po, sobrang lamig,” user Vanessa Fava Santos wrote.

Another commuter claimed that the management should thoroughly inspect the air-conditioning units for the total convenience of the travelers and not just for mere publicity.

An MRT-3 coach is in standby mode in a station. (File photo)

User Rhoel Raymundo Mendoza wrote:

“We appreciate the improvement pero sana po ‘wag gawin para lang masabing iniimprove kundi gawin para talagang maging convenient sa commuters.”

“Malamig nga po at ok ‘yan, kaso ipa-check niyo po sa mga engineers niyo or whoever, hindi equal ang distribution ng lamig. Sa magkabilang dulo lang ng bawat bagon naka-concentrate ang lamig, sa gitna mainit. Sobra ang lamig at nakatutok sa mga nakatayong pasahero.”

“Di po ba pwedeng gawan ng paraan para hindi tutok sa pasahero ang buga ng aircon, nakakasama po kc [sic] ng pakiramdam, sobra init sa labas, pawisan, tapos pagpasok direktang nabubugahan ng sobrang lamig na hangin. At sana, ‘yun nga, equally distributed sa buong bagon ang lamig.”

Plans to improve MRT-3 

The government in November 2018 signed a billion-peso loan agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to improve and rehabilitate MRT-3.

JICA will provide the Philippines with ¥38.1 billion (about P18.76 billion or $362 million) to partially fund the rehabilitation that is estimated to cost a total of P21.96 billion. It is expected to fix MRT-3’s safety, reliability and level of service.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that the EDSA-plying railway will be repaired in the “most comprehensive fashion” through tracks replacement, an upgrade of the train’s signaling system and a general overhaul of the coaches.

Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the original service provider of the MRT-3, was tapped to oversee the project.

The rehabilitation was initiated after the railway suffered at least 500 breakdowns in 2017, more than the amount recorded in 2016.

In fact, some of its worst incidents were reported by a local media outlet that cited the MRT-3 breaking down 31 times in a week, one of its seat catching fire and a coach getting detached that caused commuters to walk in railways.

Another local media outlet reported that MRT-3 experienced “an average of two glitches a day” in 2017.

It was also the year when Cabinet officials under the Aquino administration and Korean company Busan Universal Rail, Inc. were charged with plunder for alleged corruption in relation to the railway’s maintenance contract.