‘We deserve better’: MRT Ortigas crowding underscores need for improved commuter mobility

January 19, 2024 - 4:05 PM
MRT Ortigas sidewalk
Sidewalk below the MRT Ortigas Station northbound in this image capture by Google on April 2023 (Picture from Google Maps)

Pinoys are calling for improved commuter mobility after a large volume of Filipinos were spotted crowding the sidewalk below the MRT-3 Ortigas Station due to escalator maintenance on Friday morning.

A journalist from ABS-CBN on January 19 posted pictures of commuters and passersby on the northbound side of the narrow sidewalk along EDSA, reporting that an MRT-3 personnel said the escalator leading to the station had been closed since the other day.

Journalist Nico Bagsic reported that some pedestrians have jumped off the sidewalk fence to walk on the bicycle lane of EDSA northbound.

Other commuters also advised their fellow travelers of the situation near the MRT station.

“For those who usually ride or alight at MRT Ortigas station, prepare yourselves, especially during rush hour,” a Pinoy wrote on the X (formerly Twitter) platform on Friday.

“They closed the escalator going up (northbound) and they did not plan their exit routes well. Took me almost 20 minutes to exit from EDSA Carousel to ADB,” she added.

She also shared her experience during her commute.

“What really triggered me is that most of the staff do not know the proper exit routes and they didn’t manage the people well,” the commuter wrote in the reply section.

“We were packed like sardines, waiting for our turn to move. People were squeezing themselves from side to side, I was worried there might be a stampede,” she continued.

Another commuter shared a wider view of the snake-like queues near the MRT station and advised travelers to book a ride-hailing app instead.

Others complained about the poor infrastructure which has a narrow sidewalk and broken escalators toward the MRT Ortigas Station platform.

They expressed hopes that policymakers and government officials should try commuting to experience these woes for themselves.

“Ano ang solusyon natin dito!? Not just on the broken down escalator, but on the lack of prioritization for pedestrian traffic, on all grounds!? Parati na lang ba na sasakyan ang dapat makausad, hindi tao?” an architect wrote in response to the post.

“Ewan ko ba sa MRT Ortigas sidewalk, ang tagal-tagal nang masikip pero ‘di inaaksyunan. Palibhasa, mga policymakers, ‘di naman dumadaan diyan, kaya bahala na lang kaming makipagsiksikan diyan,” Bar 2019 topnotcher Kenneth Manuel said.

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“Try nila talaga mag-commute for a month, andami nilang magiging reklamo’t aayusin,” he added.

“Another reason why I don’t want to commute (plus) working in an office. My patience cannot endure this. We deserve better,” another X user commented.

“Lord, ayoko na ‘to ma-experience ulit. Our public transportation infrastructure is so bad. We deserve better,” wrote a different Pinoy.

“Grabe, we do not deserve this,” another online user said.

“Sino nga ulit ‘yung nagpapatigil ng WFH (work-from-home) set up? Bakit ‘di sya pumila dito after work. T*ng *na! Hindi ;to deserve ng mga commuters. Maawa naman kayo!” a different user wrote.

‘Essential maintenance’ 

Meanwhile, the MRT-3 management on Friday advised the public of the ongoing “essential maintenance” at the escalator of the Ortigas Station northbound.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the temporary unavailability of the escalator,” it said in an advisory.

“The maintenance work includes replacement of major parts of the escalator which is crucial for ensuring its safety and reliability. Said repair was originally scheduled in December but was delayed a bit so passengers may be able to use the conveyance facility last holiday rush,” it added.

“We assure the public that every possible measure is being taken to minimize disruption,” the MRT-3 management said.

It also said it has collaborated with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority “to provide alternative arrangements” and “to help passengers navigate smoothly” while its technical personnel complete the maintenance work.

“We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this period. Thank you for your patience,” the management concluded.

A similar situation happened to commuters in 2022 when there was a passenger buildup in the Ortigas Station’s stairways and footbridge.

The MRT-3 management had blamed it on a a faulty escalator.

As of 2:05 p.m. on Friday, Bagsic reported that the MRT-3 management had placed a new sign saying the escalator would be temporarily closed until January 22 and that it was sorry for the inconvenience.

He added that the sidewalk fence in the area has been adjusted to make the space wider for commuters. It now occupies part of the bike lane along EDSA.