Press Release
March 2, 2015


Sen. Grace Poe asked Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to submit within five days a progress report on committed deliverables to upgrade and rehabilitate the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), in the wake of repeated system malfunctions harassing commuters amid the scourge of higher fares.

"Our commuters have long been aggrieved, and any further delay in the accomplishment of vowed upkeep and upgrade is certainly unacceptable. We must hold accountable all those negligent in carrying out their duties," Poe emphasized.

Another glitch hit the MRT in the morning rush hour of Feb. 27, causing a southbound train to stop abruptly. This came on the heels of a series of malfunctions that have continued to risk the safety and welfare of MRT passengers. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced the temporary closure of MRT operations from 9 p.m. of Feb. 28 to 12 noon of March 1 to give way to rail replacement works. About 6,000 linear meters of rails need to be replaced.

At the same time, Poe asked the DOTC to find ways to expedite the completion of deliverables as allowed by law and as demanded by the urgency of undertaking such repairs to protect the commuting public.

Abaya, during the Feb. 2 Senate public services subcommittee on transport hearing led by Poe, presented MRT-3 rehabilitation deliverables with target dates: rail replacement, to be completed by September 2015; signaling system upgrade, September 2015; radio communications upgrade, November 2015; supply of traction motors, October 2015; consulting services, April 2015; ancillary system, April 2016; supply of OCS road-rail vehicle, May 2016; supply of grinding machine rail vehicle, May 2016; total replacement of signaling system, October 2016; conveyance facilities, January 2016; and general train overhaul, June 2017. (See attached table.)

Since the hearing, Poe has asked Abaya and train officials to report on the completion of the said projects, including the maintenance of facilities particularly the elevators and escalators, and restrooms as well as the installation of elevated water tanks in the next two months, as officials vowed.

"We definitely want to know the exact level of progress and current accomplishments on every identified rehabilitation project. Pagmalasakitan naman natin ang ating matagal nang nagdurusang mga pasahero," stressed Poe, who herself experienced riding the unreliable MRT.

At the Feb. 2 Senate hearing, DOTC Director for Operations Renato San Jose committed to complete the installation of elevated water tanks to enable water to reach the 13 stations "in the next three months" or by May 2015, with a P5 million budget.

Abaya also committed the completion of the full rehabilitation of the restrooms in all stations by the "end of the year or early next year." (See attached transcript of hearing.)

He said, "It is the MRTC, which is the private corporation that owns the MRT train system and facilities that should take care of the upgrade and rehabilitation. All capital expenditure is an obligation of the private sector. We feel they were not in a position to do so, thus, we are stepping in."

Poe reminded the DOTC to submit a report on deductions it has made as "penalties for non-performance" by maintenance provider APT Global, which currently receives P57 million per month, as Abaya said at the hearing.

"If commuters are paying higher fares, it is only reasonable for them to expect improved service. An efficient and reliable mass transportation system helps improve workforce productivity and our economy," Poe, who earlier assailed the MRT fare hike, underscored.

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