Press Release
October 11, 2019


The Senate Committee on Public Services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, is expecting the operations of LRT-2, the lone train linking the eastern part of the metropolis to the busiest areas in Manila, to normalize earlier than nine months after the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said on Thursday that it was already conducting a thorough check to rehabilitate the damaged substations.

Dr. Paul Chua, LRTA deputy for operation and engineering, hinted at a shorter period for the repair of three substations damaged by fire during the committee's fourth technical working group (TWG) meeting on the government's transportation roadmap to solve the traffic woes in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

"What we hope to accomplish in this meeting is to give the affected commuters a glimmer of hope. As such, we would like to see less fingerpointing and more problem solving. Of course, we can only apply the solutions if we make a proper diagnosis," Poe said in a statement read before the committee.

Chua told the panel presided by Poe's legislative head Atty. Regine Tenorio that the initial assessment, wherein the repair of the damaged rectifiers that supplied power to the Anonas-Katipunan stations would take nine months or until mid-2020, was based on a worst-case scenario that the entire substation "will be declared totally unusable."

He reported that the Bureau of Fire Protection has finally allowed LRTA to open up the rectifiers for actual assessment of the damage on Wednesday afternoon, five days following the fire that completely shut down the train line and caused inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of daily commuters relying on the train line.

"Since we were just allowed yesterday afternoon to open the rectifiers for actual assessment of the damage, we can only build the actual damage scenario probably in two days' time," said Chua.

LRTA has been able to identify so far 189 parts of the substations that were defective or damaged by the fire, of which 178 already have replacement parts coming from the warehouse, said the official.

"So, therefore, we only have 11 parts that we do not have," he pointed out, adding that a gantry was also burned and some of the tracks were damaged because a post fell down.

He said the management will submit to the committee a report on the extent of damage incurred by the substations, the quantity of materials to be replaced and a concrete timeline when LRTA can resume operations for Anonas all the way to Santolan.

To ease the difficulties of commuters taking the train line every day, Chua said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has given 200 special permits for point-to-point buses and modern jeepneys to ply from Masinag, Emerald, Santolan and all the way to Legarda for LRT-2 passengers.

A fleet of 300 Angkas motorcycle riders has started giving commuters free rides during peak hours from Masinag to Recto since Oct. 8.

Chua also said ride-hailing Grab has also pledged on Thursday morning to assist commuters affected by the shutdown of three LRT-2 stations by giving them rides from Santolan to Recto for only P25, the amount LRT charges passengers.

Chua said the management has lined up key projects to avert a similar crisis in the future and to ease the commuting woes of passengers, which include the procurement of 14 train sets over the next five years and installation of a system that will give the agency the capacity to monitor and record thunder and lightning strikes from inside and outside of the entire LRT-2 line.

Various transport groups that attended the final TWG meeting also presented their proposals to the committee in a bid to improve mass transportation and the traffic situation in the country.

These proposals were centered on increased coordination between and among transport agencies and local government units, the prioritization of mass transit over private car ownership, and creating commuter-centric cities.

In her statement read before the committee, Poe said the LRTA's pledge for better service should not end when the repair is done.

"We will keep a close watch on the LRT's rehabilitation, and beyond this, we will expect a more comprehensive plan on how to improve service and expand capacity. Our train riders deserve better," Poe said.

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