DOTr: LRT-MRT common station still a go

MANILA –The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is committed to pursue the establishment of a common station that would connect the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), and MRT-7 from North Ave. in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan province.

The project seeks to provide comfort to passengers by ensuring a seamless transfer among the major rail line systems.

DOTr public information officer Hope Libiran said the department is on track with its timeline to start the construction of the LRT-MRT common station by December and its completion in April 2019.

“It (LRT-MRT common station) is still a go,” she said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The common station will be located between SM North and Trinoma malls and has three components: Area A, where the platform for LRT-1 and MRT-3 is located; Area B which consists of two common walkways connecting Area A and C; and Area C where the platform for MRT-7 is located.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) for its construction was signed last January by the DOTr, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Universal LRT Corp. (BVI) Ltd. of the San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), North Triangle Depot Commercial Corp. (NTDCC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), ending a more than seven-year impasse over the location of the railway project.

It is to be situated between the original 2009 location in front of SM Annex and 2014 location near Trinoma mall.

Congress is currently conducting its probe on the common station project due to various concerns, such as its location, cost and design.

Critics of the project claimed that it would cost the government PHP2.8 billion and would only be beneficial to the companies that will be involved.

The DOTr assured the public that no fare hike will be imposed for the construction of the common station project.

Moreover, it explained that the costs have increased due to its larger capacity, compared to the previous design on the project.

“The DOTr is seeing this as cost of governance for passenger convenience. It is an improved and bigger station with private sector shouldering part of the cost. The initial location was approximately 7,200 sq. meters (sqm), the second location was approximately 2,500 sqm, while the current location is at 13,700 sqm. The size is projected to answer the future demand in passenger traffic,” DOTr spokesperson Assistant Secretary Cherie Mercado said in an earlier statement.

Under the said MOA, Area A will be financed and built by the DOTr, Area B by Ayala and its partners, and Area C by San Miguel.

The operation, maintenance and development for Area A will be split between LRMC for LRT-1 and DOTr for MRT-3. Area B will be operated, maintained and developed by Ayala and Area C by San Miguel.

The DOTr has also stated that the location of the common station near Trinoma was based on technical studies that would ensure convenience to the riding public.

For his part, LRMC chief and former public works secretary Rogelio Singson proposed that a temporary LRT station connecting Line 1 and MRT-3 be built in front of SM City North EDSA Annex.

He estimated that the temporary station would cost LRMC between PHP250 million and PHP280 million, and could be built in 10 to 12 months. The proposed temporary station is seen to run for two-and-a-half years to three years to recoup the expenses and would not affect the construction of the proposed common station. The cost would not be passed on to commuters by way of fare increase.

The construction could start this year once the government approves the proposal.

The SMPHI, DOTr, and LRTA will file a joint manifestation with the Supreme Court to resolve the issue of the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the common station project and proceed with its construction.

An appeal for the lifting of the TRO will be filed by all parties after the detailed engineering designs are completed.

DOTr assures the proper handling and planning of the traffic impact of the construction of the Common Station and will put in place a Traffic Management Plan that will be approved by the Metro Manila Council and the I-ACT as part of its detailed engineering process.

The DPWH will build an underpass along EDSA at the area where the common station will be located.