I hope that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s administration can finally put in place a lasting solution to the LRT-MRT problem in his first year in office. I think that a “first aid” fix – like more running trains, faster travel time and cooler air conditioning system, among others – for the first 100 days isn’t too much to ask. The tens of thousands of riders, who suffer on their daily commute due to past administrations’ incompetence and/or corruption, will certainly appreciate and remember that.
It is deplorable that our primary mass transport system, underdeveloped as it is, was heavily neglected by past administrations and now the riding public is even suffering more because of it. People will remember the name of former Secretary Jun Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) – who wasn’t shy about his apathy to the current commuter predicament when he said in a news interview, “Stop complaining, you’re not being forced to ride the LRT/MRT. Ride something else.”
Former Sec. Jun Abaya is apparently oblivious to the fact that for many of us riders, we’re forced to ride the LRT/MRT because there is practically no other choice. Past DOTC chiefs are either incompetent or corrupt – and considering that these are highly-educated and highly-experienced executives – it is natural to think that the latter may likely be the case.
Expanding the LRT to Cavite is welcome news but before we start on that we should improve the infrastructure that is already in service. Optimize the number of trains plying the lines (especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours), optimize their speed capacity, fix the air-conditioning systems, improve the queuing system on stations to minimize long lines spilling on the roadsides/sidewalks, etc. are just some of the priority concerns.
A breath of fresh air, though, is the introduction of the “universal” BEEP card. It is a very welcome improvement considering that LRT1, LRT2 and MRT systems accept it and that its load has a long validity period – much like Singapore’s EZ-Link card and Hong Kong’s Octopus card. Although it’ll be better if just like the EZ-Link and Octopus cards, its stored value can be used at 7-Elevens, Mini-Stops and other establishments nationwide. Jollibee, SM ePLUS and others have this system (with Point-Of-Sales or POS machines) in place for their own stored value cards – arrangements should be easier so that they can accept BEEP cards as well.
I’ve watched newly-appointed DOTC Secretary Arthur Tugade on TV speak about his plans for his first 100 days and I was really impressed. I hope that besides being a visionary he is also a crusader like President Duterte – and that he has the determination and the initiative to turn his vision into reality.