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Worsening PNR services, incompetent, uncaring leadership

12:49 AM April 21, 2015

THE WORSENING condition of our trains forces me to write again on the need to improve the Philippine National Railways (PNR). Last year, I made the same call (“A cry from Aquino’s boss: Improve PNR stations and train services,” Opinion, 9/22/14).

I find it disgusting that both the PNR management and the Aquino administration have chosen to remain blind, deaf and dumb to very doable suggestions and callous to the daily suffering of train commuters.

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With the increase in MRT and LRT fares, thousands of train passengers are now taking the PNR trains to go to work. Majority of them are daily-wage earners. Given the horrendous traffic gridlock in almost all major Metro Manila roads, the fastest ride to Makati and Metro’s south area is still via trains. But that is an option that comes with “physical torture,” especially during the rush hours.

Sadly, an increase in PNR fares has been proposed purportedly to add to the funds for the improvement of PNR services. But wait. Did MRT/LRT services improve even just a bit after their fares were raised?

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If President Aquino could see the plight of poor train commuters and hear their expletives, I wonder if he would endorse his candidates in the 2016 elections. If there is any decency left in him, he better not.

Under his administration, incompetence and inefficiency have become the order of the day when it comes to trains. Almost every train ride has become a hellish exercise. I cannot understand why the government is taking so long to purchase additional trains and coaches. Do they really cost that much compared to the billions of pesos that allegedly went to the pockets of the Napoles scammers? Can’t P-Noy prioritize the disbursement of funds for urgent “development” of the PNR and its services?

What makes a PNR train ride abominable? Let me count the ways:

  1. Outdated manual ticketing system. (I wonder how the “paper tickets” sale is accounted for in every station at the end of each day.)
  1. Open, dark, unpaved pathways to the stations, littered with rocks and stones, to boot.
  1. No seats for tired and elderly persons, pregnant commuters, persons with disabilities waiting for their train ride. No sturdy walls even just to lean on. Many commuters rest themselves by sitting on dirty platforms.
  1. Air-conditioning units not working. Water, from leaky air-conditioning units, dripping on commuters.
  1. Unprofessional security guards and employees with no skills whatsoever in handling irate commuters rushing to report to work on time and be home after a tiring day.

A satisfied public is the best advertisement for a good leader.

Being a part of the majority who voted for P-Noy, I look forward to good governance—in words and in deeds.

—BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO,

[email protected]

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