MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Passengers of LRT-1 can now expect a better commute as private operator Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) announced yesterday the completion of the first phase of its P500-million Station Improvement Project.
The project, which upgrades the stations of Southeast Asia’s first rail transport line, yesterday inaugurated the new LRT-1 Doroteo Jose station in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Doroteo Jose is the interconnecting station of LRT-1 and LRT-2, and serves an average of 27,000 passengers daily.
“Doroteo Jose is just the beginning,” LRMC President and CEO Rogelio L. Singson announced. “We are now working on the rest of the project’s phases and, with the support of our commercial partners, we are hoping to see more enhancements at the other stations by the end of this year.”
According to Singson, the next phase of the project covers United Nations, Gil Puyat, Abad Santos, Pedro Gil, and R. Papa, which will be accomplished in June. By end 2017, LRMC will deliver a wholly refurbished train line, featuring stations that have been renovated and equipped with structural upgrades and new facilities to enhance passenger experience.
Addressing accessibility, safety, security
LRMC worked towards improvements to put LRT-1 at par with global transport standards. From the stations’ entrance to the trains’ platforms, passengers’ accessibility, safety, and security were addressed.
Stations are no longer dimly lit, with the installation of numerous light fixtures in and around the stations. Ceiling and painting works were also done to give the stations a facelift to contribute to a more pleasing environment. Better accessibility is provided with the complete restoration of all elevators and escalators, which now include PWD-friendly features.
Retail spaces for passengers’ convenience
Given the dynamic, fast-paced nature of every Filipino’s commute, LRMC is also closely working with its marketing partner PHAR, to make more conveniences available inside the stations. Through partnerships with different brands, soon, each LRT-1 station will have a mix of food and non-food kiosks, retail spaces, and ATMs to make goods and services readily available for commuters.
However, Singson reiterated that the Station Improvement Project is only the first component of LRMC’s two-way approach in delivering the optimum transport experience to the public. In congruence with the station upgrades, the company is also implementing engineering and operation improvements.
100 LRVs now up and running
LRMC also today announced that as of December 2016, it is already able to deploy a total of 100 light rail vehicles (LRVs), or up to 30 trains per day. This is coming from only 77 back in September 2015, when the company assumed operation and maintenance of the train line, marking a 29.87% increase.
With more LRVs serving a daily average of 420,000 passengers and through the implementation of effective management strategies, cycle time (or time for a train to complete a loop) has improved from 118 minutes to 108 minutes. Efficiencies in passenger queuing have also lessened waiting time for trains from 6 minutes to 4 minutes. Early birds and night shifters also have no worries catching the LRT-1 with service now available as early as 4AM and as late as 10:30PM.
The company revealed that LRT-1 also recorded significant increase in ridership, with the last quarter of 2016 posting a 9-12% boost in comparison with the same timeframe in 2015. In fact, LRT-1 transported more than 500,000 riders in several instances late last year.
Prepping for the future
The replacement of LRT-1’s 32-year-old rails is also underway, with a total of 10,583 meters or 40% already complete. The rail replacement project runs a total of 26 kilometers from Baclaran to 5th Avenue stations, and is targeted to finish by the end of 2017.
Once complete, the new tracks are expected to allow trains to increase their speed from the current 40 kph to 60 kph. They will also decrease the wear and tear of LRVs and improve the reliability of the whole system.
Singson notes that all the improvements are done with the future in mind. “We are working on these improvements given our mandate to extend LRT-1’s service to commuters in Cavite. We want LRT-1 to be ready and able to serve more passengers through the synergy of modern stations and a sound operation backbone. Ultimately, we want to provide commuters with transport service that is at par with the rest of the world,” he says.
Coinciding with the unveiling of the new Doroteo Jose is the opening of the LRT-1 exhibit, featuring the work and vision of National Artist for Architecture, Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa. He designed the LRT-1 stations in the early 1980s, during the time of the train line’s construction.
The exhibit in Doroteo Jose is aimed to educate students, architecture enthusiasts, and LRT-1 riders on the roots of the train line. Mañosa’s sketches of the LRT-1’s original design are on display, as well as news clippings and information, and a scale model of the train.