Press Release
November 8, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the problem of mass transportation would put to test the country's next set of leaders and try the new government's resolve to address commuter woes.

"Nothing is certain in 2016 except the fact that the next government will have a monstrous problem on its plate: fixing mass transportation and ending the misery of commuters," Escudero said.

Based on the poor performance of Metro Manila's three major railway lines and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), it appears that the government, particularly the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), has done little to alleviate commuter suffering, the senator said.

"The lack of efficient and reliable mass transport system is a complex and dynamic problem that will take years to fix," he said. "It will require an equally dynamic and relentless government to execute programs that will ease the daily grind for millions of mostly working class commuters."

Escudero, who is running for vice president under the independent coalition of Partido Galing at Puso, said the government should start by providing a functioning and reliable commuter rail that extends beyond Metro Manila.

At present, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, and the PNR carry around 1.35 million passengers on a weekday. The PNR accounts for the smallest proportion of the load, with only about 46,000 passengers.

The DOTC's proposed P43.5-billion budget accounts for the eighth biggest allocation in the proposed 2016 budget, and 41 percent of this is earmarked for rail expenses, so money is not the issue, said Escudero, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Finance.

"There's a plan to fix rail problems and there's a budget to back the plan. In return, we want government assurance that the plan would work. Because really, taking public transport has become the benchmark for the low quality of life in this country," he said.

He pointed to the dilapidated trains, unreliable schedule of services, long queuing hours, and non-functioning facilities such as toilets and escalators in MRT stations as frequent complaints of commuters.

The PNR line from Tutuban to Alabang, meanwhile, has been described as slow and erratic, and has often had to stop operations due to technical glitches.

"The whole PNR service needs a major overhaul to be even called a commuter service," Escudero said.

He said the government should encourage investments in the country's mass transport system to boost efforts to provide efficient transport service to all Filipinos.

"Private investments in infrastructure will not only help solve the ills plaguing public transportation but also deliver economic benefits, laying the foundation for growth by creating construction and manufacturing jobs for Filipino workers, and attracting small businesses and new development," Escudero said.

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