DOTr apologizes for MRT smoke emission incident

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday apologized to passengers affected in the recent incident where smoke emerged from an MRT seat.

"The Department of Transportation (DOTr) expresses sincere apologies to those who were affected and inconvenienced by the recent smoke incident that occurred yesterday in one of MRT-3's trains," it said in a press release.

Some 600 passengers were forced to get off the train and walked on tracks at 1:40 p.m. between the Cubao and Kamuning station on Friday. This, after billowing smoke from under an MRT seat caused riders to panic and forcibly open doors.

Regular service resumed more than an hour later, at 2:50 p.m., the DOTr said.

READ: Smoke emission forces panicked MRT passengers to walk along train tracks

The Transportation Department said "fault analysis" is ongoing to determine the cause of the incident.

"In the interest of accuracy and transparency, DOTr has directed MRT-3 Management to release to the public their technical findings at the soonest possible time," it said.

On Friday, MRT Operations Director Michael Capati said initial investigations point to an electrical problem as the cause of smoke.

The DOTr appealed to "the public's understanding" as it pushes ahead "in the most expeditious manner, strategies and actions to effectively and sustainably restore and rehabilitate the current MRT-3 system."

In November 2017, the agency took over the maintenance of the MRT and promised to improve efficiency of operations within "three to six months.

It said the Philippines has sought Japan to assist the department in maintaining the MRT this January.

"By May 2018, the rehabilitation and maintenance service provider for MRT-3 is targeted to be mobilized. The DOTr has stressed with the Government of Japan that the provider they will nominate must be highly qualified and with a proven track record," it said.

The MRT carries an estimated 500,000 passengers per day.

Last year, the MRT line reported over 500 glitches, up from about 400 in 2016.