Lawmaker gets first-hand look at MRT commuter suffering

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 10) — A congressman experienced the travails of the riding public when the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) train he rode in broke down Tuesday at rush hour.

Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon said he boarded a northbound MRT train at the Magallanes Station in Makati City at 9 a.m. He said he takes the MRT at least once a week or whenever needed since it was a faster way to get from his district to congress hearings at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, more than 20 kilometers away.

READ: Bill requires high-ranking gov't officials to ride public transportation

All was well until he reached Boni Station in Mandaluyong City.

"Sakay ko is in Magallanes station. Pagdating sa Boni, huminto yung train for about 8 minutes," said Biazon, a member of the House Committee on Transportation.

[Translation: I took the train at the Magallanes station. When we got to Boni station, the train stopped for about eight minutes.]

Biazon said the electricity went out while the train stood still.

"Pinatay din 'yung kuryente kaya yung isang babae was saying nasu-suffocate pakiramdam niya," he said.

[Translation: They turned off the electricity so a woman was saying she felt like she was suffocating.]

The train edged one more station to Shaw Boulevard, where the passengers were requested to disembark and transfer to another working train. The unloaded passengers added to the rush-hour crowd, aggravating the difficulty of getting on a train.

"Yung volume ng passengers na bumaba plus sasakay, talagang napuno yung terminal at nakasakay ako sa mga two trains after," he said.

[Translation: The volume of passengers who alighted and those who were just about to go onboard filled the terminal, so I got on after two trains.]

The train breakdown was due to a technical problem, Biazon said, though he did not have more details.

"First time ko na-experience na nag-breakdown. Fortunately, hindi yung tipong lumakad kami sa riles. But still, it is an inconvenience to the riding public," Biazon said.

[Translation: This is my first time to experience the MRT breakdown. Fortunately, we were not asked to walk along the rails. But still, it is an inconvenience to the riding public.]

The lawmaker called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr)  to speed up resolving problems besetting the maintenance of the breakdown-prone, 16.9-kilometer train system. From October 1 to 10, 9:33 a.m., the MRT has had 19 service interruptions, 15 of which are due to technical problems that led to passenger unloading.

"We are calling on DOTr to fasttrack the solution na sinasabi nila. Na kung 'yung maintenance ng contractor ang sanhi ng lahat ng ito then proceed as fast as they can to replace the contractor," Biazon said.

[Translation: We are calling on DOTr to fasttrack the solution they are talking about. If all of this was caused by the maintenance of contractor, then proceed as fast as they can to replace the contractor.]

The transportation department has blamed the numerous problems with the MRT-3 on poor service by maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail, Inc, which is the local counterpart of South Korean railway giant Busan Universal Rail Incorporated.

READ: DOTr: MRT-3 problems due to maintenance provider

The company's three-year contract with the government is effective until January 2019, but the government wants this voided.

This, even as Busan Rails filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against transportation officials over unpaid fees worth P176 million since September 2016 last year.

READ: MRT-3 maintenance provider sues Transportation Usec over unpaid billings