MRT-3 launches 'experimental' express trains

·Kim Arveen Patria
Two Metro Rail Transit trains pass each other in Manila in 2010. Australia's Macquarie Group and the Asian Development Bank said Tuesday they were teaming up with other investors to open a $625 million private equity fund focused on vital infrastructure in the Philippines

The government is implementing an experimental express train service in one of Metro Manila’s most busy railways, in a bid to address mounting commuter complaints over congestion.

Under a two-week trial starting Wednesday, the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3) will skip some stations during peak hours to cater to passengers taking longer routes.

Express trains “will skip other stations and go directly to the ones with most activity,” the Department of Transportation and Communications explained Tuesday.

These trains will make only five stops from their deployment point to their endpoint. “Pick-up” stations have been chosen based on congestion among waiting passengers.

On May 7 to 20, the express train service will run from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for southbound trains. Trips will be coded based on their pick-up stations, and will stop at the following:

  • 1S (Quezon Avenue pick-up): North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Buendia, Ayala, Magallanes, Taft Avenue

  • 2S (GMA-Kamuning pick-up): North Avenue, GMA-Kamuning, Buendia, Ayala, Magallanes, Taft Avenue

  • 3S (Cubao pick-up):  North Avenue, Cubao, Buendia, Ayala, Magallanes, Taft Avenue

On May 13 to 20, meanwhile, the afternoon trial will also be implemented with northbound trains stopping at the following stations:

  • 1N (Magallanes pick-up): Taft Avenue, Magallanes, Cubao, GMA-Kamuning, Quezon Avenue, North Avenue

  • 2N (Ayala pick-up): Taft Avenue, Ayala, Cubao, GMA-Kamuning, Quezon Avenue, North Avenue

  • 3N (Buendia pick-up): Taft Avenue, Buendia, Cubao, GMA-Kamuning, Quezon Avenue, North Avenue

DOTC explained that the scheme is based on historical passenger volume data. It is expected to match habits of commuters, who at peak hours mostly alight on a few stations.

“We hope that this trial run will yield positive results for passengers,” Transport Secretary Jun Abaya said, adding that the scheme may be made permanent depending on evaluations.

“[I]t will get commuters from their origins to their destinations more quickly—as well as lessen waiting time at our most congested stations during peak hours,” he added.

The scheme has been launched as the government awaits upgrades, specifically additional coaches and an automated ticketing system expected next year.

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