MANILA, Philippines – The operating hours of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) has been extended to accommodate the increase of passengers going to and from Manila due to Christmas season shopping in Divisoria.
At present, PNR’s daily ridership has increased to 20 percent, transporting an average of 120,000 commuters every day.
The PNR has already positioned an additional northbound and southbound trip of the Metro South Commuter (MSC) line from Alabang in Muntinlupa to Tutuban in Manila.
“Before, our last northbound trip from Alabang departs at 7:30 pm and our southbound trip leaves Tutuban at 7:07 pm. Starting last December 2, we deployed additional northbound trip at 7:50 pm and sound bound trip at 7:37 pm,” PNR general manager Joseph Allan Dilay said, stressing that the new service hours is here to stay.
Aside from Divisoria, malls are also slowly becoming crowded as buyers start their early Christmas shopping. And to cater to this, some malls have also extended their operating hours.
But despite the extension of mall operating hours, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 3, however, will continue working under its normal schedule.
LRT and MRT will do so because lengthening the operating hours may accommodate more passengers, but it also has a negative implication in the future as the maintenance of the trains and the elevated rail system will be undermined.
“It’s difficult to sacrifice the maintenance of the system. Already, our window for maintenance in LRT is too short from 10 pm to 3 am. If we extend operating hours, the maintenance will suffer,” Light Rail Train Authority (LRTA) administrator Honorito Chaneco pointed out.
And with the three train lines’ deterioration, glitches and operations extended beyond their limits, extending operating hours may only worsen their condition, especially MRT line 3.
LRT and MRT cater to approximately 1.3 million passengers daily. LRT-1 serves some 500,000 commuters; LRT-2 some 250,000 commuters; and MRT-3 some 560,000 commuters.
“What we can do (to meet commuters’ demand halfway) is to continue deploying as much trains even up to the last operating hour,” Chaneco said.
“We could not extend MRT 3 operating hours for the entire extended mall operation due to maintenance time requirements. The MRT 3 management can however based on ridership situation extend its operation as need arises,” MRT officer in charge Renato San Jose added.
Dilay fears the future effects of PNR’s extended operating hours.
“Operationally speaking, the PNR loses more when it runs more trips. Besides, the trains need to be maintained to keep its good running condition,” he said.
With report from Cyra Moraleda