The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the extension of free rides on Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) for another month. Passengers can enjoy free rides until June 30, 2022 from 4:40AM to 10:10PM.
Initially, the program was implemented from March 28 to April 30, benefiting 15,730,000 passengers. Later on, the railway management decided to extend it until May 30. But given the rising prices of fuel and basic commodities, they extended it anew to June 30 until the end of the current administration.
According to the DOTr, the next administration will decide if there will be an extension of the free ride program.
The MRT3 estimated that the foregone revenues during the two-month period reached P286 million. The amount was subsidized by the government through the General Appropriations Act (GAA), which is a total of P7.1-billion.
Last March, the government inaugurated the rehabilitated MRT3 trains. All the light rail vehicles were restored to their high-grade design condition. From 25 kilometers per hour, the trains were able to operate at 60 kilometers per hour, after the rehabilitation.
The project included adding more light rail vehicles. From 13 operational vehicles, the train system now has 23. The waiting time between trains improved from 10 minutes to 3.5 minutes.
Aside from enhancing the efficiency of the trains, the project involved replacing rail tracks and upgrading the line’s power supply, communication systems, and depot facilities.
The massive rehabilitation project was financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The actual upgrade and restoration works were handled by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The DOTr said that the number of passengers increased from 260,000 prior to the pandemic to 280,000 amid the health crisis.
Other Metro Rail Projects
The transportation department continues to supervise the design and implementation of other railway projects in the capital region.
The MRT7 is already at 65 percent progress rate, as GMA News reported. The DOTR targets running partial operations on December 2022 and full operations on 2023. The railway line extends from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte Bulacan. The total cost of the project is P68.2 billion.
In terms of capacity, the MRT7 can accommodate 300,000 passengers per day on its first year. It’s equipped to service more, around 800,000 passengers in the next years.
Six train sets of the MRT7, which have 18 train cars, were delivered in December 2021.
Meanwhile, MRT4 is expected to be fully operational by 2028. The railway system, which connects Metro Manila to the province of Rizal, has 13 stations. The monorail train is designed to reduce travel time from Quezon City to Taytay to 27 minutes.
Once operational, it will serve about 4,500 passengers during peak hours and 2,678 passengers during off-peak hours.
The MRT9, more popularly known as the Metro Manila Subway, is set to have partial operations by 2025 and full operations by 2027. The railway system will serve about a million passengers a day.
The latest MRT9 update is that the DOTr signed a contract worth P17.75B that forms part of the first phase of the subway construction project. This train system extends from Valenzuela City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay. It’s 35 kilometers long with a total of 15 underground stations, strategically placed in the capital region.
Mobility in the Metro
The improvement and completion of public transportation projects can facilitate a more efficient movement of people in Metro Manila.
Earlier, the Metro Manila Development Authority said that the traffic in the capital region can breach pre-pandemic levels by June, as reported by Philstar. The forecast was in part due to the return of face-to-face classes.
The infrastructure developments are also seen to increase property values and spur real estate demand. When the return-to-work trend started last year, a home that enables mobility emerged as a priority, as evidenced by the strong interest on rental properties near transportation hubs.
Top property platform Lamudi is expected to discuss the future of real estate in the post-pandemic era at the The Outlook: Philippine Real Estate Conference. The in-person event will be attended by top thought leaders in the industry.
Sources: Manila Bulletin, GMA News, Philstar