DOTr unveils first batch of new trains for LRT-1 Cavite extension project

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021   •   230

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has unveiled the first batch of new trains that will be deployed for the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1) Cavite Extension project.

The four new train cars, which were ordered from Spain and Mexico, were presented on Tuesday, January 26.

These are part of the 120 train cars that will form 30 four-car trains that can accommodate up to 750,000 passengers daily. The LRT-1 currently serves 500,000 commuters daily.

“This fourth generation of Light Rail Vehicles will more than doubled the number of operations LRVS of LRT from 86 LRVs IN 2016 up to 192 LRVs by 2022,” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said.

The DOTr said the new train cars feature more allotment areas for passengers and better cooling fans that will help lengthen the service life of the cooling system.

Once the delivery of new trains is complete, the LRT-1 will have 48 train sets from the current 34 train sets.

According to Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), which operates the LRT-1, the construction of the Cavite extension project is now 50% percent complete.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is eyeing partial operability of the LRT-1 extension project by the fourth quarter of this year.

“I asked the rail sector and I asked the LRTA and the LRMC to make sure that partially operability of this project can materialize by December of this year. I don’t mind hitting 1 or 2 stations but scot to be partially operational,” Tugade said.

The LRT-1 Cavite extension project will stretch across Baclaran to Niog in Bacoor, Cavite. Upon completion, travel time from Manila to Cavite will be trimmed down to just 25 minutes, from the current 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The project was funded through a loan extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Experts see surge in COVID-19 cases if passenger capacity is raised to 75%

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is ready to implement the 75% passenger capacity in public transportation once the entire Philippines is  placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

This means more passengers will be allowed inside a public utility vehicle with reduced physical distancing.

In a statement, the DOTr said that although it recognizes the recommendation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), they will still depend on the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

“We leave the NEDA proposal to the evaluation of the IATF being the primary agency tasked to formulate plans and rules during this period of the pandemic as the country moves forward towards the “new normal”,” the DOTr said.

“Rest assured that the DOTr will implement whatever decision the IATF and the Cabinet may arrive at,” it added.

Meanwhile, experts from the UP OCTA research said that while they respect the policies the government is imposing, they fear the possible surge of COVID-19 cases once passenger capacity is increased in public transportations.

The group is currently monitoring the detected clustering of COVID-19 cases in MRT-3 which involves the new variant discovered in the United Kingdom.

What they suggest is that instead of increasing passenger capacity, it is better to increase the number of PUV units and retain the standard physical distance in between passengers.

“With the UK Variant it’s even more risky because the UK variant is more transmissible, so kumbaga we’re giving UK variant more opportunities to spread if we increased capacity in public transportation,” explained Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research.

The group also recognizes the need to resume operations of provincial buses.

However, there must be a concrete guideline for operators and drivers and the standard health protocols should be strictly imposed at all times to curb transmission.

Experts said it would be best to place the entire country under MGCQ once the COVID-19 vaccination commences.

“It’s very important to vaccinate our front liners because they will help us in preventing surges. Even if we don’t see the effect immediately the vaccine roll-out will have a really big impact on our public health outlook and definitely moving to MGCQ will definitely possible,” David said.

The group sees a possible doubling of COVID-19 cases if the decision to relax quarantine measures is imposed in haste and without proper safeguards. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

NAIA runway upgrade to aid swift delivery of vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The upgraded runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can now be used for domestic flights following its yearlong rehabilitation.

The runway will also aid the swift delivery of vaccines in the country. 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) led the inauguration of the rehabilitated and upgraded runway 13/31 in NAIA on Tuesday (February 16).

The department was able to finish the repair and overlay of the runway which include the repair of deteriorated asphalt pavement areas and the entire runway to assure the aircraft’s safe landing and take off.

Apart from the upgraded runway, a newly-constructed taxiway was also inaugurated to manage air traffic and to address aircraft congestion on the ground.

According to MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal, this will also benefit the anticipated volume arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country that is expected to happen this month.

GM Monreal cited that prior to the construction of the new taxiway it takes more than an hour before an aircraft could take off on runway 13/31, but now it could possibly take only about 30 minutes with the new taxiway.

“Dati kasi ang nga flights kasi galing Terminal 3 at Terminal 2 pag nagtake-off po sa domestic runway yung maiiksi natin umiikot sila hanggang dulo sa harap ng Terminal 4,” Monreal said.

“Ngayon hindi na sila iikot doon. Mayroon tayong parang tinatawag na bypass taxiway na para pagdating dun sa area na yun kakaliwa sila derecho take off na so hindi na maabala yung movement ng terminal 4,” he added.

The construction of the runway was conducted during the strict quarantine that is why flight operations were not hampered.

Meanwhile, airport officials also completed the rehabilitation of NAIA Terminal 2 to accomodate more passengers.

“So lumuwag po ang departure area, pre-departure area ng International area. Sa labas naman makikita ninyo meron tayong extra space na nakuha para magamit ng mga pasahero na aalis ng bansa. Lumaki yung check in counter. Nakadagdag tayo ng security screening kasi dati yun ang nagiging reklamo na medyo mahaba ang pila sa labas,” Monreal noted.

Although the rehabilitation was completed, MIAA said that bidding for the upgrade of terminals is yet to be decided. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Senate panel wants to repeal DOTr order delegating MVIS to private operators

Robie de Guzman   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Senate Committee on Public Services on Tuesday said it has recommended the repeal of the department order and all issuances related to the delegation of the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) to private operators.

The panel, headed by Senator Grace Poe, said in its Committee Report No. 184 that the implementation of the MVIS is “flawed” and that the policy is “half-baked.”

“In the meantime, the repeal of DOTr DO (Department Order) 2018-19 and all related issuances is recommended,” the report read.

“While fees have been lowered for now and testing seems to have been made optional, the implementation of this flawed program must be stopped definitively pending the resolution of issues hounding it,” it added.

The committee cited in its report various concerns on the implementation of the MVIS.

These include the issues on the legality of the MVIS privatization, lack of consultation and transparency in accreditation, inadequate number of inspection centers in operation, glitches in the system, and overall incompatibility of private motor vehicle inspection systems with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) IT and landscape of motor vehicles in the country.

The panel said these issues remain unresolved without decisive action from the Department.

It further recommended that the Senate blue ribbon committee conduct a probe on the “highly anomalous transactions” surrounding the accreditation of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs) and officials involved.

“The questionable issuances seem to have created a favorable environment for an oligopoly where only very few players can enter and succeed,” the report stated.

“The inexplicable dark moments during the evaluation process and lack of transparency in the eventual accreditation of winning service providers bear badges of fraud which should be further investigated by the appropriate committee,” it added.

The panel likewise pointed out in its report that the absence of clear definition of roadworthiness, coupled with identified flaws in the inspection standards, “almost guarantees that there will be errors in the test results.”

“[N]ot only that this might lead to corruption, some also believe that it intends to facilitate the phaseout of older vehicles without due process,” it added.

The report also emphasized that while “the policy of ensuring only roadworthy vehicles ply our roads is commendable, a half-baked policy is a bad policy.”

Poe earlier asked the DOTr and the LTO to submit the names of the companies and incorporators of the accredited PMVICs.

The committee report said that 12 out of 24 of them do not have enough capitalization to finance an expensive inspection center costing more than P50 million, and eight others registered as sole proprietorships contained no information as to their financial standing.

It also pointed out that with only 24 PMVICs currently operational out of 458 originally targeted by the LTO, the unclear noncompulsory status of the MVIS only leads to more confusion for motorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that the MVIS will no longer be mandatory following criticisms in its implementation.

The Transportation department also announced that PMVIC testing fees were lowered from P1,500 to P600 for private vehicles, and from P600 to P500 for motorcycles. The rate for public utility jeepneys, on the other hand, will remain at P300.

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