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15 October 2011

Php6 billion economic package for MRT and LRT rehabilation -- Roxas

A P6 billion transport stimulus package for the rehabilitation of the LRT and MRT is being worked out by DOTC as part of the Aquino Administration’s P72 billion fiscal pump-priming aimed at shielding the local economy from the European financial crunch.
DOTC secretary Mar Roxas told the Philippine Business Conference Thursday that projects that will have an immediate effect of reducing poverty nationally and improving countryside economic condition will be a priority in this fiscal build-up.
“President Aquino, in his dialogues with President Obama and China President Hu Jintao, as well as international business leaders mid this year began to sense the turbulence in the world’s financial market, so he directed his economic team on a stimulus package,” said Roxas.
“It will accelerate government spending across all departments from both infrastructure and poverty alleviation’s point of view. It will help insulate our economy from the turbulence abroad as well as increasingly apparent weakness in the economies of our major trading partners.”
In order to decongest the trains, the government plans to acquire new light rail vehicles (LRV) or the coaches for MRT (SM North to Taft line), while also trying to resolve the breakdown and service interruption problems of the rails.
“Older LRVs are not running, so we need to fix these, but that’s one each time, and one each direction. This means we can’t pick up one train from an LRT and bring it to another LRT because each of them has different computer systems,” he said.
“We’re studying the purchase of LRVs. MRT’s design capacity is only for 360,000 passengers a day, but its actual load is at 488,000 passengers, so it’s really overloaded. That’s why there’s a breakdown almost every day,” he said.
Collectively, the MRT and LRT lines 1 (from Caloocan to Edsa through Taft Avenue) and LRT 2 (from Santolan to Recto) ferry around one million people daily.
“As a window to see how messed up rail transport planning has been, (I’m not pointing fingers here, but this is a fact), all three lines have different physical specifications—meaning sizes, engines, signaling systems, types of LRVs or cars. There is no interchangeability or economy of scale at all,” he said.
Regarding the government’s plan to provide jeepney operators a loan for the conversion of their engine from diesel to lower-priced LPG, he said the DOTC, through a University of the Philippines-commissioned work, is studying its economic feasibility.
“DOTC and the jeepney transport sector are looking at the conversion itself. We’re calculating the energy co-efficient because an initial study shows that one glass of diesel is equivalent to 1.5 glasses of LPG. The power or energy contained is not 1:1, so where’s the savings?”, he asked.
The European fiscal crisis that started in 2007-2008 involves a crisis of rising sovereign debt as the governments of European countries sought to aid their banks.
An alarm in European, and consequently international, financial markets ensued due to rising public budget deficit and debt levels in these countries. Fiscal rescue packages have since been released to Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.