Quickly mentioned previously that among the 2012 developments for Montalban commuters is the inclusion of the Montalban to Trinoma / SM North route in UV Express operations. Now I would like to delve on why this is a major win for Montalban commuters, just like me.
Previously, major shuttle routes only include Montalban to Cubao (via Litex and San Mateo, Marikina) and Montalban to Philcoa. Those employed in business districts such as Ortigas, Makati, Global City or thereabouts will most likely get off in Cubao and take the Cubao MRT. We all know how hard it is to get into a train (and even get inside Cubao MRT station) during the morning rush. Plus all the long multiple queues.
The Montalban-Trinoma route gives southbound commuters more alternatives since it also ends up in an MRT station, the North Ave station. I also find this route faster since travel time from QC Circle to Trinoma is a lot shorter (5 minutes tops) compared to travel time from QC Circle to Farmers, Cubao (15 to 20 minutes on average). This cuts overall travel time and gets commuters to an MRT station much earlier, which makes a whole lot of exponential difference in a morning rush.
North Ave vs Cubao
Both North and Cubao stations have hordes of people lining up just to get through a station (this is really a given in most MRT stations than an exception). Cubao has two sizable queueing areas (area where you buy tickets and queue in the turnstiles). Areas beneath the platforms are sizable too. Occasionally, or rather daily, the lines overflow to the Farmers overpass.
Now in the case of North Ave station, the formal queueing area is a lot smaller. There is also no big area underneath the platforms since it is already the overpass. Hence the lines always overflow to the overpass in Trinoma, plus to the EDSA sidewalks northbound and southbound (quite dangerous really especially on the southbound side).
In spite of higher passenger volume in North Ave, I find loading time a lot faster. In North Ave, you get the “first crack” on southbound trains whereas in Cubao, the train has already loaded in 3 previous stations and chances are, the train is already overloaded. Except for the occassional “skipping trains first loading Cubao” of course but majority of the trains still do first loading in North Ave.
In fact some people in queues even have the luxury of time to wait for the next few trains just so they can be seated instead of travelling all the way south standing.
No deal breakers really, just some innate disadvantages. For one, it takes more time to fill-up a shuttle going to Trinoma than a shuttle going to Cubao (at least in our area). Maybe the route is not yet fully advertised to commuters, or maybe there are really less passengers who find the Trinoma route more suitable to their needs.
Another one is that “wrestling time” in North Ave is longer than in Cubao. In Cubao, queues to get inside the station are orderly, you just need to wrestle your way inside the trains sometimes (in spite of the lines). In North Ave, the slow walk-ala-Nazareno-Feast starts in the EDSA sidewalks, continues as you line up in the overpass. Inside the stations there are lines as you get inside the trains but we all know that these lines tend to disappear when the MRT doors open. So another wrestling match and boxing out right there.
Still, a good development. Now wondering when will I see Montalban to Ayala shuttle services? Or maybe a Montalban to Ayala carpool anyone?