“We need innovation in urban transport!”
This was what an official of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said after seeing the viral picture of passengers queuing for public transportation outside their office on Tuesday.
Susann Roth, advisor and chief of knowledge management at ADB, shared her thoughts when a long line was seen inside and outside the MRT Ortigas Station building on October 4.
On that day, the railway’s signaling system had a “technical glitch” along a track circuit near the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City at around 5 p.m.
MRT general manager Federico Canar Jr. said to ABS-CBN News that technicians from the railway depot in Quezon City had to ride a motorcycle and travel to the site—which took two hours due to the rush hour traffic.
“May naka-assign na signaling technicians sa linya. Noong pinuntahan ‘yung defects, nakita nila na ang power supply ng signaling ay sira nga. Therefore, tumawag sila sa depot and it took them two hours to respond dahil sa traffic,” he explained.
The glitch disrupted MRT’s operations and limited its trips between the stations of North Avenue and Shaw Boulevard.
Trips from Shaw Boulevard to Taft Avenue were suspended, causing some southbound train commuters to queue for a bus along EDSA instead.
MRT went fully operational a few minutes before 7 p.m.
A picture of how the disruption impacted commuters was posted online, earning the attention of people like Roth.
“We need innovation in urban transport!” she wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Roth shared that she “switched quickly to the bus on EDSA after standing in line” that day.
“We will never increase [the] productivity and creativity of people if this is how we value urban people’s time and comfort,” she added.
A day after, Roth shared a blog post of her colleague titled “Walkable cities and electric mobility would mean cheaper transport and cleaner air. Can governments deliver?”
“I really like his and his and his team’s work on #decarbonization. We have many solutions to improve the commutes of people in mega-cities, but maybe those who make decisions don’t prioritize it enough because they don’t have to take the public transport and suffer,” she wrote, citing senior climate change economist Adrien Vogt-Schilb.
“Maybe they need more support to imagine that a cheaper and cleaner transport is actually possible. We need to share #solutions across countries and create #demonstration projects so that decision-makers change their beliefs and opinions [on] how to invest in the future,” Roth added.
Last June, the ADB shared pictures of the planned South Commuter Railway intended to cut travel time from Manila to Calamba in Laguna province by half.
The railway project serves as the firm’s largest infrastructure financing in the Asian region, while the Department of Transportation serves as its implementing agency.
It is also being built with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Some of the railway’s stations are in EDSA, Buendia, Sucat and Santa Rosa in Laguna.
Meanwhile, Roth’s initial post about the long queue was shared by a Facebook page, earning the attention of Filipinos who similarly lamented the reality of commuters in Metro Manila.
“Mula noon pa man, hindi na organize[d] ang mga lugar sa bansang Pinas… mas lumala ngayon [kasi] dumadami [nang] dumadami ang population… dagdagan pa na bawat project, hindi napupunta [nang] tama sa plano kaya ang nangyayari, imbes mag-improve, mas lalo nalulugmok,” a Pinoy commented.
“Ilang taon ko ring halos araw-araw na struggle ang pumila sa MRT. Namasahe [nang] sapilitan. Nakapasok at nakalabas ng [bagon] nang ‘di namamalayan. Walang magawa kundi mag-tiyaga dahil ganoon ang buhay manggagawa,” another Facebook user wrote.
Last Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led the groundbreaking ceremony of two Metro Manila Subway stations in Pasig City.
The 33.1-kilometer railway is expected to benefit up to 519,000 passengers daily in 2028.
It has 17 stations that will run from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Taguig.
The railway has a fleet of eight-car train sets that can accommodate as many as 2,242 passengers each.