DOTr: Expect better MRT-3 service in 3-6 months

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the public can expect better service from the troubled Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) soon.

"Ipagkatiwalaan niyo ho kami, in the next three to six months, mababago ang serbisyo natin sa loob ng MRT-3," DOTr Usec. Cesar Chavez told CNN Philippines' "Newsroom" on Tuesday.

[Translation: Trust us, in the next three-to-six months, the service of the MRT-3 will change.]

Chavez's statement came after the government took over on Monday the maintenance of the MRT-3 from Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) due to the company's alleged poor performance.

Read: DOTr: Gov't to take over MRT maintenance

This extends the deadline that MRT officials set in May 2017, when they said long lines at the MRT-3 would be gone by December 2017.

Read: MRT-3 official: No more long lines by December

'Massive procurement'

Chavez said the government will also need three to six months to find a new maintenance provider, although it will start buying spare parts for the MRT-3.

"Between now hanggang three to six months ay dapat kami rin mismo ay bibili ng mga spare parts," he said. "Massive procurement of spare parts at magdadagdag ng mga personnel."

[Translation: Between now until the next three to six months, we will also buy spare parts. There will be a massive procurement of spare parts and more personnel will be hired.]

The DOTr said possible replacements to BURI are Singapore MRT; Japan's Sumitomo, which was the MRT's former contractor; and French firm RATP, which also works on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1.

Meanwhile, Chavez also said he is expecting by Tuesday morning a letter from Canadian-based technical firm Bombardier, who is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the MRT-3's signaling system.

Chavez said the signaling system, which is used to direct railway traffic, is the "number-one cause" of problems on the rail line.

"Mula noong 2013 hanggang ngayon, walang binili kahit isa," he said. "Therefore, ito rin ang una nating tututukan. Ang gusto nating mangyari, bibili tayo ng spare parts sa Bombardier at ang Bombardier din ang magme-maintain ng mga spare parts na 'yan at ng signalling system. 'Pagka nangyari 'yan, 50 percent ng problema natin ay maaayos."

[Translation: From 2013 until today, not a single part for the signaling system was purchased. Therefore, this will be the first thing that we will focus on. What we want to happen is that we buy spare parts from Bombardier and Bombardier will also maintain the spare parts and the signaling system. If that happens, 50 percent of the problem will be solved.]

Chavez said the government is also in talks with the OEM suppliers for the two other problem spots of the MRT-3: the air-conditioning system and the traction motors, which are used to propel the train cars.

Chavez also said the government has absorbed almost all of the BURI personnel, adding that they also took in maintenance staff from the LRT and the Philippine National Railways to speed up maintenance of the MRT-3.