LRT-1 management hires first female driver

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Metro Manila  (CNN Philippines) — There's finally a woman driver at the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1).

On Tuesday, the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) introduced Kathleen Dela Paz, its first female train driver who's also one of the new personnel hired to boost LRT-1 operations.

The 26-year-old mother of two started operating the trains early August.

Along with her fellow drivers, Dela Paz completed a specialized training course, which included safety communication, incident/accident management, fault reporting, and basic train driving.

LRMC Operations Director Rodrigo Bulario said hiring Dela Paz demonstrated their belief that "skills and competence are not gender-specific." The Metro Rail Transit-3 also has female train drivers.

After adding more train coaches, the LRMC hired additional personnel for the LRT-1: 29 additional train drivers from the current headcount of 146; 25 station supervisors from the current 64; and 105 more station tellers from the current 370.

According to the LRMC, all the new hires had to fulfill strict requirements, particularly when it comes to technical competence, skills, and aptitude.

Service improvements

LRMC has done several service improvements amid the looming fare increase on LRT-1, which serves an average of 400,000 commuters daily.

Last July, LRT-1 operating hours were extended from 10 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. for both southbound and northbound trips.

Read: LRT-1 management to consider extending train hours permanently

The train system now has 440 trips daily, but LRMC plans to increase it to 470.

Lifts at LRT-1 stations have been fixed: Six escalators and two elevators at the Doroteo Jose Station and two elevators at the EDSA station are back in operation. The restored elevators and escalators have PWD-friendly features.

However, the lifts at Monumento, Balintawak, and Roosevelt Stations have yet to be fixed.

Aside from station improvements, LRMC plans to bring back the track speed to 60kph from the current 40kph, once rail replacements are completed late next year.

LRMC earlier asked the government for a 10-percent fare increase, which is allowed under the concession agreement signed by both parties.

The last LRT-1 fare hike was in December 2014.

LRMC General Counsel Philip Ranada said the funds from the fare increase would be used to make the train system better, by improving infrastructure and rehabilitating trains.

However, should the fare increase fall through, Ranada said they would still continue delivering their services.

Related: Free Wi-Fi soon available at major transport stations

CNN Philippines digital producer Karmela Tordecilla contributed to this report.