First in 2018: No MRT3 breakdown in 9 days

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) reached 9 days without glitches, the longest worry-free streak since the year opened.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade attributed this "luck" to the availability of spare parts delivered mid-February.

"These days, we are lucky because the spare parts needed have been delivered.... I hope this [improvement in services] continues," Tugade said in Filipino at a transportation summit on Thursday, March 1.

The improvement comes after the MRT3 suffered from its worst breakdown last week, on February 19, when there were no functioning trains for its quarter of a million passengers.

February saw only 11 glitches – 9 of which prompted passenger unloading while 2 were service interruptions. This is an improvement from the almost daily glitches in January at 27 recorded incidents.

Ridership up

As the MRT3 management struggled to maintain 8 running trains, the glitch-free week saw an increase in passenger ridership.

From Monday, February 26 to Thursday, March 1, an average of some 270,000 passengers rode the MRT3 – higher than last week's figures of 230,000.

Monday saw an increase in trains, with the MRT3 running 9 trains by 8 am. The day ended with 283,312 passengers riding the railway system.

On Tuesday, February 27, the number of available trains went down to 7 when operations opened but the management was quick to put back another train by 8 am. When the day ended, Tuesday averaged 8 trains, serving some 281,000 passengers.

On Wednesday, February 28, only 6 trains were running at 6 am. By 7 am, 7 trains were operational. There were 8 running trains by 9 am but ridership went down to close to 262,000 passengers.

On Thursday, there were 8 operational trains for the most of the day but by 5 pm, the management was able to put out 9 trains that served 264,000 passengers.

Promises

Despite maintaining 8 running trains when the month of February closed, it's still lower than half of the 20 trains in operation in 2017.

Tugade said on Thursday that the department is keen on delivering on its promises of better MRT3 services. He said that by April, there should be 15 running trains for the public to use.

Full rehabilitation of the MRT3 railway system will be done between March 28 and March 31. 

As the deadlines set by the department draws to a close, the Transportation Secretary sought for public understanding in case these were not met.

"Huwag niyo naman kaming sumbatan kung hindi mangyari. Fifteen by Holy Week sana...'Pag hindi na-achieve, tulungan niyo lang kami," he told reporters.

(Don't lash out at us if it (the targets) was not achieved. We're targetting 15 trains hopefully by Holy Week. If we don't achieve it, just help us.)

In January, German-based TUV Rheinland was tapped to evaluate the "overweight" 48 trains delivered by China-based CRRC Dalian Company Limited. The assessment, due March 10, will determine whether these trains are safe for the public to use.

Earlier this February, engineers from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) began a system audit of the MRT3. JICA is expected to release a report on the restoration works needed for the railway system.

The number of trains was drastically decreased after the MRT3 Maintenance Transition Team took over, as trains and spare parts left by the former maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI) was not in the right condition needed, the DOTr earlier said.

Since the start of 2018, the DOTr has recorded a total of 38 glitches. 

In 2017, there were 516 MRT3 glitches recorded – almost 10 incidents a week. (READ: MRT3 suffers almost daily breakdowns since start of 2018 Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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