How to ease MRT rides
I am a regular commuter, I take the MRT to get to work from Makati to Ortigas every day. Having regularly seen and observed the MRT system in operation, I realized that a lot of simple ways can be done to improve it.
A transport expert said that with Metro Manila’s current population, we need at least 500 kilometers of rail lines. And we only have 50 km at present. Building another 450 km of railways would take years and require billions of pesos in investment. I believe though that there are short-term measures that the MRT-3 operator (the Department of Transportation and Communications) and the MRT owner can adopt to alleviate the deplorable conditions commuters have to go through every day.
- One bottleneck is the egress or point of exit wherein commuters still have to check out their cards. Standardize the fare to all destinations (similar to Beijing where the rate is 2 yuan across the network). Charge the highest fare in the current matrix so that exiting commuters do not need to check out anymore and instead can just go out straight. This will clear up the platform faster and prevent the clogging of the exit points. The higher fare will also mean additional revenues for the MRT, albeit how small.
- There are many stubborn passengers who prefer to stay near the train doors even if their destination is still several stations away, thereby limiting the number of passengers that a coach can accommodate. In Japan, there are people whose job is to push passengers to the center of the train, thereby maximizing the passenger capacity of a coach, especially during rush hours. These “oshiya” or “pushers” are sometimes referred to as “passenger arrangement staff.”
- Except in the first car exclusive to differently-abled commuters, remove the seats in the coaches to make for more passenger space. Standing during a train ride for minutes may be inconvenient, but I think it is more inconvenient to line up for an hour or more to get a train ride.
- Have the cashiers prepare readily available cards for all destinations so that they won’t need to input the amount in the system every time a commuter buys one. But this will be unnecessary if there’s only one rate for all destinations.
I know that the current volume of passengers is just too large for the system; also, that the present fares cannot generate enough revenues to cover the system’s maintenance cost. But with short-term, simple solutions, we can improve on the MRT’s queuing and crowd control system.
We leave the long-term solutions to the experts. But for now, I hope that our transport policymakers will consider these suggestions in reconfiguring the MRT system. I’m sure the cost of implementing will be minimal. No matter how small the improvements may be, they will go a long way in easing the plight of the commuting public.
—NIKKI LOU BAQUERIZA,
Unit 332 Sarmiento Condominium
177 Yakal St, San Antonio, Makati City
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