Duterte on MRT, LRT: Gov’t ‘so insensitive’ to commuters

MANILA, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte announced plans to build a mass transport system in his city, and promised it would be different from Metro Manila’s trains that had been the bane of commuters.

Duterte, whose name is being floated as presidential contender, recalled a recent trip to Metro Manila, where he saw long lines of commuters waiting to get on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).

The MRT traverses EDSA, Metro Manila’s major and longest highway.

“Those who could not bear the long wait were walking along the road and every time a jeepney stopped to pick up passengers, there was a mad scramble among the poor commuters,” Duterte said in a statement on Monday, June 15.

“Kawawa talaga. Pati babae at bata natutumba sa pag-aagawan para makasakay lang.” (They were pitiful. Even the women and children would fall while elbowing their way to get a ride.)

Duterte deplored the national government’s seeming inattention to the problem. “I can't imagine why our government could be so insensitive to the plight of the poor workers. Not only is public transport so expensive, it demeans the human beings who are cramped inside the MRT and LRT (Light Rail Transit) like cattle.”

Davao’s train

The Davao City government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Engineering and Construction (KEC) for a free feasibility study on a 13.6-kilometer railway project.

The LRT is envisioned to start from the Ateneo de Davao University on Roxas Avenue, passing through Abreeza Mall in Bajada and SM Mall in Lanang and Mamay Road, up to the Davao International Airport in Buhangin.

To run at 70 kilometers per hour, the Davao LRT is expected to transport 5,000 to 20,000 passengers every hour, according to KEC.

Duterte explained that the Davao City mass transport system will be different from that of Metro Manila. “We will take into consideration the fact that those who will use it are ordinary people who earn very little," he said.

Duterte said the city government will subsidize a large portion of the LRT fare to help “contribute to the productivity of the ordinary workers.” (READ: MRT fare hike debate: Who should pay?)

“We hail our overseas workers as heroes, but we bleed them dry with all of the requirements and fees they pay before they could work abroad. We call our farmers the backbone of the nation, but we could not even support them with free irrigation water and technology support,” he said.

“We would like our workers to be productive, but how could they be productive when they come to work late and tired because of the jostling to get a ride, not to mention the fact that a huge chunk of their daily earnings go to their transportation fare?” – Rappler.com