MRT Line 3 (Metro Manila)

The Metro Rail Transit Line 3, also known as the MRT Line 3, MRT-3 or Metrostar Express, is a light rapid transit system line of Metro Manila, Philippines. The line runs in an orbital north to south route following the alignment of the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Although it has the characteristics of light rail, such as with the type of rolling stock used, it is more akin to a rapid transit system owing to its total grade separation and high passenger throughput.

MRT Line 3
MRT3ManilaYellowLine3.svg
Line 3 North Avenue Station Class 3000 Train.jpg
Overview
StatusOperational
OwnerMetro Rail Transit Corporation
Department of Transportation
Line number3
LocaleMetro Manila, Philippines
TerminiNorth Avenue
Taft Avenue
Stations13[1]
WebsiteMRTC, DOTr-MRT3
Service
TypeLight rapid transit
SystemManila Metro Rail Transit System
Services1[2]
Operator(s)Metro Rail Transit Corporation
Department of Transportation
Rolling stock1st Generation LRV
ČKD Tatra RT8D5[3]
2nd Generation LRV
CRRC Dalian 8MLB[3]
Daily ridership350,000 (original capacity, current minimum capacity)
650,000 (2012–2013 record)
500,000 (2011–2015 peak daily capacity)
History
OpenedDecember 15, 1999; 20 years ago (1999-12-15)
Technical
Track length16.9 km (10.5 mi)
CharacterAt-grade separated
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Minimum radius370 m (400 yd) Mainline /
25 m (82 ft) Depot
Electrification750 V DC Overhead lines
Operating speedOperating speed:
30–40 km/h (19–25 mph)
Design speed:
60 km/h (37 mph)
Route map

Up arrow Quirino Highway
 MMS 
Left arrow Baclaran
ManilaLine1Logo.svg
North Avenue
San Jose Del Monte Right arrow
North Avenue Depot
Quezon Avenue
Left arrow Lerma - University Avenue Right arrow
  FTI Right arrow
  NAIA Terminal 3 Right arrow
 MMS 
Kamuning
Left arrow Recto - Santolan - Masinag Right arrow
Lrtalogo.svg
Araneta Center–Cubao
Santolan
Ortigas
Shaw Boulevard
Boni
Guadalupe
5 ferry/water interchange
Left arrow EDSA - Sampaguita Right arrow
Buendia
Ayala
5 Bus interchange
Magallanes
Philippine National Railways (PNR).svg Bus interchange
Left arrow Valenzuela-Gov. Pascual / Tutuban
  FTI / Alabang / Calamba Right arrow
Taft Avenue
Left arrow Roosevelt - Baclaran - Niog Right arrow
ManilaLine1Logo.svg

Envisioned in the 1970s as part of the Metropolitan Manila Strategic Mass Rail Transit Development Plan, the thirteen-station, 16.9-kilometer (10.5 mi) line was the second rapid transit line to be built in Metro Manila when it started full operations in 2000 under a 25-year concession agreement between its private owners and the Philippine government's Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The line is owned by the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private company operating in partnership with the DOTr under a Build-Lease-Transfer agreement. Serving close to 550,000 passengers on a daily basis when MRTC's maintenance provider, Sumitomo Corp. of Japan, was handling the maintenance of the system, the line is the busiest among Metro Manila's three rapid transit lines, built with essential standards such as barrier-free access and the use of contact-less card tickets to better facilitate passenger access. Total ridership significantly exceeds its built maximum capacity of 350,000 passengers a day, with various solutions being proposed or implemented to alleviate chronic congestion in addition to the procurement of new rolling stock.

Since 2006, the system's private owners had been offering various capacity expansion proposals to the DOTC. In 2014, after the DOTC's handling of the line's maintenance for two years amid questions about the line's structural integrity owing to the poor maintenance and the pronouncements that the system, in general, was safe, experts from MTR HK were commissioned to review the system. MTR HK made the opinion that the rail system was compromised due to the DOTC's poor maintenance.[4][5][6]

It is integrated with the public transit system in Metro Manila, and passengers also take various forms of road-based public transport, such as buses, to and from a station to reach their intended destination. Although the line is aimed at reducing traffic congestion and travel time along EDSA, the transportation system has only been partially successful due to the DOTC's inaction on the private sector's proposals to expand the capacity of the system to take up to 1.1 million passengers a day. Expanding the network's capacity to accommodate the rising number of passengers is currently set on tackling this problem.

RouteEdit

 
A Class 3000 train approaching Ayala station.

The line has 13 stations on 16.9 kilometers (10.5 mi) of double track,[1][2] spaced on average around 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) apart.[7] The rails are mostly elevated and erected either over or along the roads covered, with cut and underground sections between Buendia and Ayala stations, the only underground stations on the line. The southern terminus of the line is Taft Avenue station at Pasay Rotonda, the intersection between Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Taft Avenue, while the northern terminus is the North Avenue station along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa, Quezon City. The rail line serves the cities that Circumferential Road 4 (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) passes through: Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan and Quezon City. The line crosses South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) at Magallanes Interchange in Makati.

Three stations serve as interchanges with the lines operated by the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), and Philippine National Railways (PNR). Magallanes station is near the PNR's EDSA station, while Araneta Center-Cubao station is indirectly connected to the LRT Line 2 station of the same , and Taft Avenue station is connected via a covered walkway to the LRT Line 1 EDSA station. No stations are connected to other rapid transit lines within the paid areas, though that is set to change when North Avenue Grand Central Station, which has interchanges to LRT Line 1 and MRT Line 7, opens.

Early on during the construction of the line, a plan was drafted for a spur line towards the Makati Central Business District, built between Ayala and Buendia stations. This was subsequently abandoned and rail tracks never laid down. The remaining evidence of this abandoned plan is an underground tunnel between Buendia and Ayala station turning right.

Name Distance (km) Line Transfers Location
Between stations From North Avenue
North Avenue Grand Central Station   LRT Line 1
7 MRT Line 7
 MMS  Metro Manila Subway
Quezon City
North Avenue 0.000 none
Quezon Avenue 1.200 1.200  MMS  Metro Manila Subway
Kamuning 1.000 2.200 none
Araneta Center–Cubao 1.900 4.100   LRT Line 2
Santolan 1.500 5.600 none
Ortigas 2.300 7.900 Mandaluyong
Shaw Boulevard 0.800 8.700
Boni 1.000 9.700
Guadalupe 0.800 10.500 Makati
Buendia 2.000 12.500
Ayala 0.950 13.450
Magallanes 1.200 14.650   PNR Metro Commuter Line via EDSA
Taft Avenue 2.050 16.700   LRT Line 1 via EDSA Pasay
Stations and train systems in italics are under construction.

The line is open from 5:30 a.m. PST (UTC+8) until 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 5:30 a.m. PST (UTC+8) until 10:00 pm during weekends and holidays. It operates almost every day of the year unless otherwise announced. Special schedules are announced via the PA system in every station and also in newspapers and other mass media. During Holy Week, a public holiday in the Philippines, the rail system is closed for annual maintenance, owing to fewer commuters and traffic around the metro. Normal operation resumes after Easter Sunday.[8]

It has experimented with extended opening hours, the first of which included 24-hour operations beginning on June 1, 2009 (primarily aimed at serving call center agents and other workers in the business process outsourcing sector).[9] Citing low ridership figures and financial losses, this was suspended after two days, and operations were instead extended from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.[10] Operations subsequently returned to the former schedule by April 2010, but services were again extended starting March 10, 2014, with trains running on a trial basis from 4:30 am to 11:30 pm in anticipation of major traffic buildup in light of several major road projects beginning in 2014.[11]

HistoryEdit

 
A northbound train leaving Shaw Boulevard station
 
Taft Avenue station platform area

During the construction of the first line of the Manila Light Rail Transit System in the early 1980s, Electrowatt Engineering Services of Zürich designed a comprehensive plan for metro service in Metro Manila. The plan—still used as the basis for planning new metro lines—consisted of a 150-kilometer (93 mi) network of rapid transit lines spanning all major corridors within 20 years,[12] including a line on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), the region's busiest road corridor.

The project (originally known as the LRT-3 project) officially began in 1989, five years after the opening of the Line 1, with the Hong Kong-based EDSA LRT Corporation winning the public bidding for the line's construction during the term of President Corazon Aquino.[7] However, construction could not commence, with the project stalled as the Philippine government conducted several investigations into alleged irregularities with the project's contract.[13] In 1995, the Supreme Court upheld the regularity of the project (G.R. No. 114222, April 6, 1995) which paved the way for construction to finally begin during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. A consortium of local companies, led by Fil-Estate Management, Ayala Land, and 5 others, later formed the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) in June 1995 and took over the EDSA LRT Corporation.[7]

The MRTC was subsequently awarded a Build-Lease-Transfer contract by the DOTC, which meant that the latter would possess ownership of the system after the 25-year concession period. Meanwhile, the DOTC would assume all administrative functions, such as the regulation of fares and operations, leaving the MRTC responsibility over construction and maintenance of the system as well as the procurement of spare parts for trains. In exchange, the DOTC would pay the MRTC monthly fees for a certain number of years to reimburse any incurred costs.[14]

Construction began on October 15, 1996, with a BLT agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MRTC.[7] An amended turnkey agreement was later signed on September 16, 1997 with a consortium of companies (including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Sumitomo Corporation). A separate agreement was signed with ČKD Dopravní Systémy (ČKD Tatra, now part of Siemens AG), the leading builder of trams and light rail vehicles for the Eastern Bloc, on rolling stock. MRTC also retained the services of ICF Kaiser Engineers and Constructors to provide program management and technical oversight of the services for the design, construction management, and commissioning.[15]

During construction, the MRTC oversaw the design, construction, equipping, testing, and commissioning, while the DOTC oversaw technical supervision of the project activities covered by the BLT contract between the DOTC and MRTC. The DOTC also sought the services of SYSTRA, a French consultant firm, with regards to the technical competence, experience and track record in the construction and operations.[15]

On December 15, 1999, the initial section from North Avenue to Buendia was inaugurated by President Joseph Estrada,[16] with all remaining stations opening on July 20, 2000, a little over a month past the original deadline.[17] However, ridership was initially far below expectations when the line was still partially open, with passengers complaining of the tickets' steep price and the general lack of connectivity of the stations with other modes of public transportation.[18] Passengers' complaint of high ticket prices pointed to the maximum fare of ₱34, which at the time was significantly higher than a comparable journey on those lines operated by the LRTA and the PNR or a similar bus ride along EDSA. Although the MRTC projected 300,000–400,000 passengers riding the system daily, in the first month of operation the system saw a ridership of only 40,000 passengers daily (the ridership improved quickly, however, when passengers experienced significantly faster and convenient travel along EDSA, which experience soon spread by word of mouth).[19] The system was also initially criticized as a white elephant, comparing it to the Manila Light Rail Transit System and the Metro Manila Skyway.[20] To alleviate passenger complaints, the MRTC later reduced passenger fares to ₱15, as per the request of then President Joseph Estrada and a subsequent government subsidy.

By 2004, the line had the highest ridership of the three lines, with 400,000 passengers daily. By early 2015, the system was carrying around 550,000 commuters during weekdays and was often badly overcrowded during peak times of access during the day and night.

On October 27, 2018, the Department of Transportation started the gradual deployment of the 2nd generation trains, after various tests and audits.[21]

Station facilities, amenities, and servicesEdit

 
Buendia station, one of the stations with an island platform.
 
The entrance to Ayala station as seen from the Ayala Center
 
Bridge linking the Taft Avenue station to the nearby Line 1 EDSA station

With the exception of Buendia and Ayala stations, and the platform level of Taft Avenue and Boni stations, all stations are situated above ground, taking advantage of EDSA's topology.[22]

Station layout and accessibilityEdit

The stations have a standard layout, with a concourse level and a platform level. The concourse is usually above the platform, with stairs, escalators and elevators leading down to the platform level. Station concourses contain ticket booths, which is separated from the platform level by fare gates.[7] Some stations, such as Araneta Center-Cubao, are connected at concourse level to nearby buildings, such as shopping malls, for easier accessibility. Most stations are also barrier-free inside and outside the station, and trains have spaces for passengers using wheelchairs.[7]

Stations either have island platforms, such as Taft Avenue, Buendia, Boni Avenue, and Shaw Boulevard stations, and side platforms, such as from Magallanes station to Ayala stations, Guadalupe, and from Ortigas to North Avenue stations. Due to the very high patronage of the line, part of the platform corresponding to the front car of the train is cordoned off for the use of women, children, elderly and disabled passengers.

The stations are also designed to occupy the entire span of EDSA, allowing passengers to safely cross between one end of the road and the other.[7]

Shops and servicesEdit

Inside the concourse of all stations are stalls or shops where people can buy food or drinks. Stalls vary by station, and some have fast food stalls. The number of stalls also varies by station, and stations tend to have a wide variety, especially in stations such as Ayala and Shaw Boulevard.

Stations such as Taft Avenue and North Avenue are connected to or are near shopping malls and/or other large shopping areas, where commuters are offered more shopping varieties.

Since November 19, 2001, in cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, passengers are offered copies of the Inquirer Libre, a free, tabloid-size, Tagalog version of the Inquirer, which is available at all stations.[23] In 2014, Pilipino Mirror also started distributing free tabloid newspapers.

Safety and securityEdit

The line has always presented itself as a safe system to travel in, which was affirmed in a 2004 World Bank paper prepared by Halcrow describing the overall state of metro rail transit operations in Manila as being "good".[24] However, in recent years after the DOTr (formerly DOTC) took over maintenance of the train system in 2012, the safety and reliability of the system has been put into question, with experts calling it "an accident waiting to happen", and while several incidents and accidents were reported between 2012 and 2014, that has not deterred commuters from continuing to patronize the system.[25] The Philippine government, meanwhile, continues to assert that the system is safe overall despite those incidents and accidents.[26]

With a current daily ridership of around 560,000 passengers, the line operates significantly above its designed capacity of between 360,000 and 380,000 passengers per day.[27] Operating over capacity since 2004,[6] government officials have admitted that capacity and system upgrades are overdue,[28] although the DOTr never acted on the numerous capacity expansion proposals of the private owners. In the absence of major investment in improving system safety and reliability, DOTr project management office of the line has resorted to experimenting with and/or implementing other solutions to reduce strain on the system, including crowd management on station platforms,[29] the proposed implementation of peak-hour express train service.[30] However, some of these solutions, such as platform crowd management, are unpopular with passengers.[31]

For safety and security reasons, persons who are visibly intoxicated, insane and/or under the influence of controlled substances, persons carrying flammable materials and/or explosives, persons carrying bulky objects or items over 1.5 meters (5 ft) tall and/or wide, and persons bringing pets and/or other animals are prohibited from entering the line.[32] Products in tin cans are also prohibited on board, citing the possibility of home-made bombs being concealed inside the cans.[33]

In 2000 and 2001, in response to the Rizal Day bombings and the September 11 attacks, security was stepped up on the line. The Philippine National Police has a special police force,[34] and security police provided by private companies can be found in all stations. All stations have a head guard. Some stations may also have a deployed K9 bomb-sniffing dog. It also employs the use of closed-circuit television inside all stations to monitor suspicious activities and to assure safety and security aboard the line. Passengers are also advised to look out for thieves, who can take advantage of the crowding aboard the trains.[citation needed] Wanted posters are posted at all stations to help commuters identify known thieves.[citation needed]

RidershipEdit

The original designed ridership of the line is 350,000, yet as the years passed, the number doubled to as much as 650,000 in 2012–2013, due to the time consumed when commuting via EDSA, as well as the speed of the trains reaching up to 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph), and connectivity to Metro Manila's major transport hubs and central business districts. The daily ridership can reach as much as 300,000–500,000 passengers from 2012–2016, despite poor maintenance and long lines, causing the government to launch bus services, known as MRT Buses, around its stations, to serve as alternatives for 1 Million passengers. Yet, the daily ridership continues to exceed the line's designed capacity, and as it continues its capacity expansion project, it aims to reach a ridership of 800,000 daily passengers as all of the new trains from China will be added to its current fleet.[35]

Currently, the line serves more than 310,000 passengers with the trains reaching up to 40 km/h (25 mph) in 8–10 minute intervals.

Fares and ticketingEdit

 
The design of the single journey ticket prior to introduction of Beep card in 2015.

The line, like all other lines in Metro Manila, uses a distance-based fare structure, with fares ranging from 13 to 28 pesos (29 to 63 U.S. cents), depending on the destination. Commuters who ride the line are charged ₱13 for the first two stations, ₱16 for 3–4 stations, ₱20 for 5–7 stations, ₱24 for 8–10 stations and ₱28 for 11 stations or the entire line. Children below 1.02 meters (3 ft 4.4 in) (the height of a fare gate) may ride for free.

Types of ticketsEdit

Magnetic tickets (1999–2015)Edit

Two types of tickets exist: a single-journey (one-way) ticket whose cost is dependent on the destination, and a stored-value (multiple-use) ticket for 100 pesos. The 200-peso & 500-peso stored-value tickets were issued in the past, but have since been phased out. The single-journey ticket is valid only on the date of purchase. Meanwhile, the stored-value ticket is valid for three months from date of first use.[32]

The tickets come in several incarnations: these include tickets bearing the portraits of former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,[36] which have since been phased out, and one bearing the logos of the DOTC and the MRTC. Ticket shortages are common: in 2005, the MRTC was forced to recycle tickets bearing Estrada's portrait to address critical ticket shortages, even resorting to borrowing stored-value tickets from the LRTA[37] and even cutting unusable tickets in half for use as manual passes. Shortages were also reported in 2012,[38] and the DOTC was working on procuring additional tickets in 2014.[39] Because of the ticket shortages, it had become common practice for regular passengers to purchase several stored-value tickets at a time, though ticket shortages still persist.[40]

Although it has partnered with private telecommunications companies in experimenting with RFID technology as an alternative ticketing system in the past,[41][42] these were phased out in 2009.[43]

Beep cards (2015–present)Edit

Currently, inter-operable beep cards with similar-to-the-previous single-journey and stored-value ticket types are now issued, along with the deployment of brand-new ticketing machines that replaced the barely-used ticketing machines that has been in place since the line's inauguration. The beep, tap-and-go tickets, loadable up to ₱10,000 can be used in all three rail lines since December 2015.

Fare adjustmentEdit

Adjusting passenger fares was ordered by President Joseph Estrada as a means to boost flagging ridership figures,[44] and the issue of fares both historically and in the present day continues to be a contentious political issue involving officials at even the highest levels of government.

Current fare levels were set on January 4, 2015 as a consequence of DOTr (formerly DOTC) having to increase fares for Line 1 as per their concession agreement with MPIC-Ayala, with fare hikes delayed for several years despite inflation and rising operating costs.[45] Prior to the current fares levels, fares were set on July 15, 2000 under the orders of then President Estrada; this was intended to have the line become competitive against other modes of transport,[46] but had the effect of causing revenue shortfalls which the government shouldered. While originally set to last only until January 2001,[46] the new fare structure persisted due to strong public opposition against increasing fares,[47] especially as ridership increased significantly after lower fares were implemented.[44] These lower fares—which are only slightly more expensive than jeepney fares—ended up being financed through large government subsidies amounting to around ₱45 per passenger,[47][48] and which for both the MRT and LRT reached ₱75 billion for the 10-year period between 2004 and 2014.[49] Without subsidies, the cost of a single trip is estimated at around ₱60,[48] and a ₱10 increase in fares would yield additional monthly revenues of ₱2–3 billion a month.[50]

Passenger fare subsidies are unpopular outside Metro Manila, with subsidy opponents claiming that their taxes are being used to subsidize Metro Manila commuters without any benefit to the countryside, and that the fare subsidies should be used for infrastructure improvements in the rest of the country.[51] In his 2013 State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III claimed that it would be unfair for non-Metro Manila residents to use their taxes to subsidize the LRT and MRT.[52] However, supporters of the subsidies claimed that the rest of the country benefits economically from efficient transportation in Metro Manila.[53]

Rolling stockEdit

Two train types run in the line, the latest being those purchased from CRRC Dalian, under the Aquino administration.

The deployment of the Dalian trainsets was delayed due to several factors, including weight limits on existing tracks and inconsistencies in production, which has since been corrected.

Trains run at a maximum speed of 30–40 km/h (19–25 mph) due to worn-out tracks, which are being replaced since November 2019, and was origially set to be completed in February 2021. But due to the Enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, the rail replacement works has been fast-tracked and now set to be completed in September 2020. Once the rail replacement works are done, the operating speed of the trains will be gradually increased to 40 km/h (25 mph) by October, 50 km/h (31 mph) by November, and back to its original operating speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) by December 2020.[54][55]

 
Inside a Class 3000 train in 2006.
 
A Class 3100 train arriving at Shaw Boulevard station.
 
Inside a Class 3100 train in 2019.
Rolling stock First-generation Second-generation
Year 1999 2016
Manufacturer ČKD Tatra CRRC Dalian
Model Class 3000/000 ČKD Tatra RT8D5M[56] Class 3100 CRRC Dalian 8MLB[57][58]
Number built (cars) 73 built (57 in service, 19 trains operational in 3 car trainsets)[59] 48 built (12 in service, 4 trains available for revenue service,
36 undergoing evaluation)[60]
Length 33,000 mm (108 ft) (31,720 mm (104.07 ft) without couplers)
Width 2,480 mm (8.14 ft) 2,500 mm (8.2 ft)
Height (pantograph lowered) 3,550 mm (11.65 ft) 3,650 mm (11.98 ft)
Door height 1,900 mm (6.2 ft)
Door width 1,255 mm (4.117 ft)
Floor height 925 mm (36.4 in)
Minimum curve radius 20 m (66 ft) 25 m (82 ft)
Empty weight 46,800 kg (103,200 lb) 49,700 kg (109,600 lb)[59]
Body shell material Low alloy high tensile steel
(aluminum for ceiling)
Stainless steel
Electrification 750 V DC overhead lines
Transmission Right-angle cardan drive Quill drive
Traction control IGBT chopper (ČKD) IGBT-VVVF (Voith)
Traction motor 64.5 kW DC motor (ČKD) 120 kW totally enclosed AC induction motor (Traktionssysteme Austria)
Seating capacity 74
Standing capacity 320 (8 passengers/square meter)
Maximum operating speed 65 km/h (40 mph)
Acceleration 1.03 m/s^2 at least 1.03 m/s^2
Deceleration (normal and emergency) 1.01 m/s^2-1.58 m/s^2 at least 1.01 m/s^2-1.58 m/s^2
Maximum gradient 5% at least 5%
Configuration 3 car sets (4 car planned)
Total capacity (3–4 cars) 1182/1576 passengers 1182[59]/1576 passengers
Wheelbase 1,900 mm (6.2 ft)
Status In service; under rehabilitation In service[61] or under testing

The system has 73 light rail vehicles (LRV) made in the Czech Republic by ČKD (now part of Siemens AG) in a three-car configuration, a number of which are now damaged due to poor maintenance since 2012 by the previous appointed contractor of DOTC (now DOTr).[3] The LRV's were purchased with export financing from the Czech government.[62] Trains have a capacity of 1,182 passengers,[3] which is a little bigger than the normal capacity of LRT Line 1 first generation rolling stock, although trains came with air conditioning. Despite this, it is designed to carry in excess of 23,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD), and is expandable to accommodate 48,000 passengers per hour per direction.[2]

The plans for new rolling stock has been an issue for the MRT during the Aquino Administration, with plans to acquire 52 second-hand LRVs offered from Spain, under the leadership of then DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, with ₱8.43 billion budget, along with Inekon Trams.[63][64] However, undisclosed issues and train incompatibility issues regarding the project, the project was downgraded to 48 LRVs, with the contract having CRRC Dalian supply 48 new LRVs.

However, due to poor maintenance by the previous maintenance contractors, the line currently operates with 7–10 minute headways under the DOTr orders,[65] and the system's passenger volume is presently closer to 14,000–18,000 passengers per hour per direction.

Early 2018, lack of spare parts for the trains decreased the number of usable trains to just 3 operational trains running during peak hour[66] however by April 2018, 14–16 trains are now operational in peak and off-peak hours.[67] On October 27, 2018, DOTr started the gradual deployment of the 2nd-generation trains.[21] Three trainsets are set for full deployment by the end of 2019, as signalling upgrades and safety certificates are being made under the takeover of Sumitomo.[68]

Due to aging air conditioning units that have been in place since the line's inauguration and complaints of uncomfortable indoor temperatures from riders, replacement air conditioning units for the first-generation trainsets were ordered from Thermo King and installed.

The Passenger Assist Railway Display System (PARDS), a passenger information system powered by LCD screens installed near the ceiling of the train that shows news, advertisements, current train location, arrivals and station layouts, are already installed inside the trains. PARDS is also installed on trains on LRT lines 1 and 2.

DepotEdit

The line maintains an underground depot in Quezon City near North Avenue station. On top of the depot is TriNoma, a shopping mall owned by the Ayala Corporation. The depot occupies 84,444 square meters (908,950 sq ft) of space and serves as the center of operations and maintenance. It is connected to the mainline through a spur line. The depot is capable of storing 81 light rail vehicles, with the option to expand to include 40 more vehicles as demand arises. They are parked on nine sets of tracks, which converge onto the spur route and later on to the main network. However, a lot of rail tracks for storage inside the depot were taken by DOTr to repair broken rails, as DOTr's previous maintenance provider did not purchase spare rails.

MaintenanceEdit

List of Maintenance Providers[69]
Firm From Until
  Sumitomo Group January 1, 2001 October 18, 2012
  PH Trams CB & T October 19, 2012 September 3, 2013
  Global APT September 4, 2013 July 4, 2015
 
 
SBI CB & T July 5, 2015 January 8, 2016
 
 
Busan Universal Rail, Inc. January 9, 2016 November 5, 2017
  Department of Transportation[70] November 6, 2017 November 7, 2018
  Sumitomo Group[71] November 8, 2018 present

Under DOTC Secretary AbayaEdit

By 2014, the line was seen to have significantly deteriorated due to the removal of tested maintenance provider Sumitomo Corp. in 2012 by the then Department of Transportation and Communications (Predecessor of DOTr) and its persistence in using unqualified maintenance providers. The government of Benigno Aquino III had been planning to buy the line from the MRT Corporation (MRTC), the private concessionaire that built the line, and then bid it out to private bidders. The Aquino government accused the MRTC of neglecting and not improving the services of the line under its watch.[72]

In February 2016, the Philippine Senate released a report stating that DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya and other DOTC officials "may have violated" the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in relation to questionable contracts with the subsequent maintenance providers.[73] In a Senate report where the line's condition was found to be in "poor maintenance" as per studies made by MTR HK,[74] DOTC officials were reported to be involved in graft in relation to questionable contracts, especially those for the maintenance of the line.[75]

Under Busan Universal Rail Inc. (2016–2017)Edit

A Korean-Filipino consortium, Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), became the maintenance provider of the line on January 2016. In 2017, DOTC's succeeding agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) attributed the operation's disruptions of the rail system to BURI with Transport Undersecretary noting 98 service interruptions and 833 passenger unloadings (or average of twice daily) as well as train derailments in April–June 2017.[69]

BURI insisted that the disruptions the railway line was experiencing is due to "inherent design and quality concerns" and not to poor maintenance or normal tear or wear. It said that the trains had "excessive lateral movement", the train-protection equipment has a "short delay time", the trains' air conditioning system were "underrated", and other equipments and features such as bogie frames, couplers, line contractors, and tracks are of "poor quality".[76]

The maintenance provider also said that the design flaws in the railway line has been causing disruptions since the first year of operation in the year 2000. According to data cited by BURI 1,492 glitches were recorded in 2000, 1,927 glitches in 2008 and the figure rose to 2,199 in 2009. MRT Corp. the owner of the line dismissed BURI's claim on the train's lateral movement and said that the issues raised by the firm were absent when the line was maintained by Sumitomo.[76]

The DOTr announced its intentions on August 24, 2017 to terminate its contract with BURI.[77] By October 2017, the government agency issued its termination notice and took over maintenance by November 2017.[70]

Return of SumitomoEdit

Due to dissatisfaction in performance, the government planned to replace BURI with the maintenance provider of Singapore's MRT, France's RATP, or Sumitomo back as the maintenance provider.[70] In late-November it was reported that Sumitomo will return as the maintenance provider for the line with an agreement to formalize the beginning of talks to facilitate the return of the firm within the later-half of December 2017. The DOTr projects that Sumitomo could work with the line again by around October–December 2018.[78]

The comeback of Sumitomo commenced with an Exchange of Notes signed on November 7, followed by the loan agreement the next day.[79] On December 27, 2018, Sumitomo and DOTr signed the contract for the rehabilitation of the line.[80] The rehabilitation started in February 2019 and is expected to last for 43 months.[81] The maintenance deal is worth $32.6 million (₱1.608 billion).[82]

The rehabilitation includes the overhaul of the all MRTC Class 3000 vehicles, as well as the deployment of 3 MRTC Class 3100 train sets, escalator and elevator operations; railway track, communication and signalling system replacement, and upgrades on power supply, overhead systems, maintenance and station equipment.[83] Interest in deploying the rest of the Class 3100 trains were expressed both by DOTr and Sumitomo, but ultimately will be deferred pending railtrack replacement and further equipment rehabilitation.[84] The newer Dalian trains that have not undergone RAMS test are currently stored at the LRT-1 depot in Paranaque.

As of July 2020, the rehabilitation project is now 49.94 percent complete.

Plans and proposalsEdit

Capacity Expansion ProjectEdit

Due to the high ridership of the line, a proposal under study by the DOTC and NEDA proposed to double the current capacity by acquiring additional light rail vehicles to accommodate over 520,000 passenger a day.[85]

In line with this need, the DOTC secured the procurement of a total of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) or 16 trains from Chinese rolling stock manufacturer CRRC Dalian. Delivery began on January 2016 until January 2017. The introduction of the new LRVs will allow the line to now handle over 800,000 passengers.[35]

The first train was scheduled to be in revenue service before April 2016[86][87] but delays in its 5,000 kilometers (3,100 mi) run test had delayed its deployment for Revenue service.[88][89] Moreover, further tests and analysis of the new trains revealed several incompatibilities that made it unable to run along the lines safely, which was a subject of audit from TuV Rheinland, hired by the DOTr to determine the true usability of the trains.

Later, it was revealed that several adjustments to the Dalian trains are required prior to revenue run deployment.[90] The train manufacturer CRRC Dalian has agreed to amend the train specifications to match the contract terms at no cost, and will do so in the soonest possible time.[91] Due to the Dalian trains undergoing said adjustments, they are now slowly being introduced into revenue runs.

Plans were also laid to increase the number of cars in each train set, from the current 3-car configuration to 4-car configuration, which also increases the number of passengers being accommodated for each trip, from 1182 passengers to 1576 passengers for each train set. The transportation department, along with railway experts also revealed from studies that the MRT system can upgrade the line's entire power supply and signalling systems, for the line to coincide with the high commuting demand and increase the number of trains needed to serve the railway line daily, from 21 trains to 25-32 trains running along the line.

Platform screen doors were also planned for each station, with the plans for the platform doors were laid out as early as 2013,[92] however, these plans were delayed until it was reconsidered in 2017.[93]

Line merge with Line 1Edit

Although Phase 1 of the line (Taft Avenue to North Avenue) has already been built, the route envisioned by the DOTC and the government, in general, was for it to traverse the entire length of EDSA (from Monumento to Taft Avenue), eventually meeting with the LRT 1 at Monumento in Caloocan (Phase 2) to create a seamless rail loop around Metro Manila. The expansion has been shelved by then President Gloria Arroyo in favor of the LRT Line 1's extension from Monumento to a new common station that it will share with at North Avenue, thus closing the loop. However, this move of President Arroyo to take away Phase 2 had proven to be ill-advised as the ridership is very low at only about 30,000 passengers a day. The southern terminus of the MRT 7 (originally Line 4 along Quezon Avenue., but had since changed route several times), which will link Quezon City, Caloocan (north), and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan will be sharing the same station.

The National Economic and Development Authority as well as then President Arroyo herself have said that the link at North Avenue is a national priority, since it would not only provide seamless service between the LRT 1 and MRT 3, but would also help decongest Metro Manila.[94] It is estimated that by 2010, when the extension is completed, some 684,000 commuters would use the line every day from the present 400,000, and traffic congestion on EDSA would be cut by as much as 50%.[95]

Proposals to fully unite LRT 1 and MRT 3 operations and systems have been pitched but has not been pursued so far. Feasibility tests for this proposition included LRT 1 trains visiting MRT 3 depot facilities and running them on the entire line. It has since been shelved for undisclosed reasons, but may be a possibility should Manny Pangilinan's Metro Pacific attempts to purchase the entire system succeed. If and when this happens, the system may be theoretically controlled or connected to LRT 1's current operating concessionaire, LRMC (Light Rail Manila Consortium), of whom Pangilinan has a controlling stake, paving the way to a possible line merger.[citation needed]

Transfer of operations from MRTC to LRTAEdit

A new study for the Metro Manila Rail Network has been unveiled by DOTC Undersecretary for Public Information Dante Velasco that LRT 1, LRT 2, and MRT 3 will be placed under the management of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA). This is due to maintenance cost issues for LRT 1's maintenance cost, which is approximately ₱35 million, along with Line 2's ₱25 million and Line 3's ₱54 million maintenance costs. Another reason for this study is for the unification of the lines. According to DOTC Undersecretary for Rails Glicerio Sicat, the transfer was set by the government in June 2011.[96] However, it is unlikely that the private owners, MRTC, will approve this plan.

On January 13, 2011, Light Rail Transit Authority Chief Rafael S. Rodriguez took over as officer-in-charge of the line in preparation for the integration of operations of the three lines,[97] but with the entry of a new leadership into the MRTC that year and in 2012, the transfer was deemed not likely to happen; however, in April 2012, a LRT 1 trainset made the first trial journey to the MRT 3 depot.

On May 26, 2014, the line's general manager Al Vitangcol was sacked by Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, and was replaced by LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco as officer-in-charge. The move came after Vitangcol was accused by the ambassador of the Czech Republic of extortion and for awarding an anomalous deal, the maintenance contract, to an uncle-in-law.[98]

Common station with LRT 1, MRT 7, and the Metro Manila SubwayEdit

On November 21, 2013, the NEDA board, chaired by then Former President Benigno Aquino III, approved the construction of a common station within North Avenue between SM City North EDSA and TriNoma Mall. It is estimated to cost 1.4 billion pesos. It will feature head-to-head platforms for LRT 1 and MRT 3 trains with a 147.4 m (484 ft) elevated walkalator to MRT 7.[99] SM Investments Corporation posted 200 million pesos for the naming rights of the common station.[100] This is inconsistent with the original plan of having seamless connectivity to Monumento and is also an unusual arrangement of having two train stations beside each other. However, the project was shelved indefinitely due to disputes over cost, engineering issues and naming rights.[101] Even if the physical infrastructure connecting the two rail systems are in place and successfully tested, commuters have to go down at the Roosevelt station of Line 1 and walk over or take a tricycle or jeepney for the one kilometer distance to the Trinoma terminal of Line 3.[102] The Supreme Court halted the construction of the project in August 2014 after SM Prime Holdings contested the new location near Trinoma.[103][104] An agreement was later reached under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, and the common station is now under construction.[105]

IncidentsEdit

During the testing period of the system, the MRT–3 has been prone to numerous disruptions and breakdowns due to technical problems in the overall systems and design since its opening in 1999, due to many factors, such as the humid conditions in the country, lack of accessibility to the stations, and incompatible problems in the rolling stock, causing major adjustments to the system.

However, problems start to arise in 2012, due to poor maintenance causing train glitches, lack of spare parts, and negligence, the system has faced numerous interruptions and accidents. This in turn has caused lower ridership, frequent unloading of passengers and passenger inconvenience.[106]

  • On November 3, 2012, a train from the Araneta Center-Cubao Station caught fire as it approached GMA-Kamuning Station, causing passengers to scramble to the exits, and having two women injured. The train caught fire due to electrical short-circuit technical failure.[107]
  • On March 19, 2013, operations were halted between the Taft Avenue and Magallanes Stations due to two high-voltage breakers being tripped off, which was caused by a Surge arrester being snapped. This, together with the lack of spare parts, caused disruption of power in the whole northbound system.[108]
  • On March 26, 2014, at 10:50 am, a southbound train at Guadalupe Station suddenly stopped due to the train driver not observing the red light status at the Guadalupe Station and accelerated southbound without getting prior clearance from the Control Center, causing the automatic train stop system to trigger, resulting in 8 injuries.[109]
  • On June 3, 2014, a lightning strike hit the MRT's overhead lines between GMA-Kamuning and Quezon Avenue station. The situation normalized two hours later.[110]
  • On August 13, 2014, a southbound train heading to Taft Avenue station derailed and overshot to the streets. The train first stopped after leaving Magallanes station due to a technical problem. Later on, the train broke down altogether, so another train was used to push the stalled train. During this process, however, the first train got detached from the rails and overshot towards Taft Avenue, breaking the concrete barriers and falling to the street below. At least 38 people were injured. The accident was blamed on 2 train drivers and 2 control personnel for failing to follow the proper coordination procedures and protocol.[111][112]
  • On October 23, 2017, at 6:16 am, a thrown used adult diaper was seen at the overhead catenary lines between Ayala and Buendia Stations. On the same morning at 8:16 AM, a south-bound train from Shaw Boulevard unloaded passengers due to a train door malfunction.[113]
  • On November 16, 2017, at 11:30 am, at least 140 passengers were evacuated from a "detached train" coach between the railway lines of Buendia and Ayala Avenue Stations.[114]
  • On March 18, 2019, at 6:02 pm, a southbound train was stopped after smoke caused by a short circuit fire at the train's traction motors was being emitted while in between the Araneta Center-Cubao and Santolan stations.[115]
  • On September 6, 2019, an overhead line section snapped at Guadalupe Station, causing a power supply glitch in the whole line affecting over 7,000 passengers. Partial operations began from North Avenue Station to Shaw Boulevard Station. The situation normalized at 5:00 pm.[116]
  • On November 5, 2019, at 4:08 pm, a train suddenly emitted smoke while on the northbound track of the line. Around 530 passengers were unloaded. Around two hours after the incident, the operation of the line was back to normal.[117]
  • On February 5, 2020, at 7:18 AM, a northbound train at Ayala station unloaded some 700 passengers because of a door failure. The unloaded passengers were able to board the next train after 5 minutes.[118]

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