Manila, Philippines

MRT Improvement Plans: More Trains, New Ticketing System

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Do you think MRT is getting worse and worse? Well you are not alone.

But to ease the despair of our MRT commuters, let me share with you some glimmer of hope on two upcoming improvements in our MRT system. But the bigger question remains, BY WHEN?
Anyway, read the news on Rappler, there are plans to:
  1. Purchase additional trains
  2. Replace the ticketing system for MRT, as well as LRT1 and LRT2
More Trains
You might have guessed it. Not necessarily new ones. The options are whether to buy new ones from Czech Republic (where current trains were made) or buy second hand trains from Spain. For DOTC, crucial issues are timing and compatibility. Read full article here.
Of course, the sooner we get the additional suitable trains, the better. The second hand option seems to be the faster alternative since brand new ones will be available one to 2 years from now. Huwaat?!! But we have to make sure the second hand trains will fit the system — the rails, the platforms, the length of the stations, etc. And that they can withstand the sea of people riding the MRT Pinoy style, which may not be the case in Spain.
With the current system, there is not much room to expand capacity on a per train basis given the narrow railways. We can’t make the trains bigger as it is. So the approach instead is to increase train frequency via adding more functional trains. How about a similar segregation scheme used by MMDA for the buses along EDSA?
I hope DOTC can resolve this as soon as possible. I think the commuting public can no longer wait for 2 more years for the MRT system to improve so looks like the 2nd hand option will address this pressing need (especially if they also want to repair EDSA which will further worsen traffic!).
But I do hope DOTC has the grace under pressure, in order to comprehensively analyze whether the 2nd hand trains will indeed fit our current system, as we don’t want more useless trains in the MRT hubs.
Wish we had more money so we can do both, first aid and long-term cure! Or transfer LRT-2 to EDSA haha!
New Ticketing System
Not much detail provided by the news article, just that the magnetic stripe tickets will be replaced with “contactless smartcards and tokens”. Maybe, this is something like you just tap or hold in front of a scanner and the turnstiles automatically open. Much similar to the access doors in corporate offices nowadays?
Whatever this will look like, what is important is that (1) It is easy to use for the old and young people alike because seriously, until now, there are still people who don’t know how to open the turnstiles by inserting the magnetic cards. (2) This better be a reliable ticketing system, one that is not prone to downtime and one that is for heavy duty use because again, our turnstiles now suddenly decide to malfunction and shutdown especially during rush hour, causing 2 to 3 queues of people to merge in a single functional turnstile.
The contactless approach should lessen queueing time in getting inside the stations. But it should be able to tell us still how much fare balance is left in our stored value cards.
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