Metro Manila, Philippines (July 28, 2016) – The Department of Transportation and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) silently launches a new system to monitor passenger queuing in all of its 13 stations along EDSA.

Starting July 25, the riding public can already access the Passenger Queue Monitoring System through a link within the MRT-3’s official website, www.dotcmrt3.gov.ph/passengerline. It is a useful tool in checking the queue of passengers at each station, specially during rush hours, to let the passengers plan their routes and avoid congested MRT stations.

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MRT-3’s official website. It offers live CCTV streaming per station, update on the number of operational trains and the newest passenger queue monitoring facility.

Passenger Queue Monitoring System

Currently in beta testing, the Passenger Queue Monitoring System shows the list of MRT-3 stations on the left side. Once the user select the desired station, a Google map will show on the right side. The presence of a colored line indicates that passenger queue leading to bag inspection reaches outside the main station, along the highway. It shows the actual length of passenger queue as it appears on the map. It also covers all the entry points leading to the station itself.

For example, the MRT North EDSA station has multiple entry points for southbound passengers. There are two lines at the Philam side, facing each other, all leading to the footbridge. The concrete bridge serves as the “holding area” if bag inspection is temporarily halted, also known as “stop entry” due to high volume of passengers. The other entry points are located near the TriNoma mall.

MRT-3 is actively posting updates from its Passenger Queue Monitoring System through its official Twitter account (@dotcmrt3). In July 27 (7:38 am), MRT3 reported long queues in all three entry points at MRT North Avenue station.

On the same date, July 27 (7:51 am), MRT-3 also reported very long queue at MRT Quezon Avenue station. Based on the map, waiting passengers already reached Samar Avenue along Mo. Ignacia Avenue, near the ABS-CBN transmission tower.

To give the readers an idea, here’s a photo captured in 2014, showing MRT passenger queue along Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City.

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Passengers patiently waiting. The queue reached Samar Avenue and Mo. Ignacia Avenue, near ABS-CBN’s broadcast tower. File photo taken in 2014.

Surprisingly, there’s no reported queue at MRT GMA Kamuning station, on the same date and time, compared to North Avenue.

Long queue

MRT-3 has drawn sharp criticism from the riding public due to trains that often broke down and very long queues at its stations. Its ridership has swelled to more than 600,000 commuters a day, almost twice its 350,000 projected daily capacity. This has resulted in congested trains, which are stressed to beyond its operating limits and causing more frequent breakdowns.

In August 2014, at least 38 were hurt when a defective MRT-3 train overshot the tracks at MRT Taft Avenue station in Pasay City. After the incident, the speed of trains were reduced to 40 kilometers per hour instead of the usual 60 kph, making travel time much longer. With trains running at slower speed, passengers have to endure longer waiting time and longer queues.

Aquino administration

The worsening transportation problems haunted former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration. These include the persistent technical issues and glitches hampering MRT-3’s service. During Aquino’s term, he signed the Executive Order 126, authorizing the implementation of the MRT-3 buyout by the government. It is yet to be implemented. In January 2015, the MRT-3 fare was increased, but despite the fare hike, no improvement in the primary service of the MRT-3 has been felt by the suffering commuters.

To augment capacity, 48 new train coaches were ordered from Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. of China. Delivery is expected to be completed in 2017. Though some coaches were already delivered, these are still on trial run. Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of escalators and elevators are ongoing and toilet rehabilitation across the 13 train stations are almost finished. MRT also launched “tap and go” ticketing system during the 2nd half of 2015, known as “beep card,” which can also be used in Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 and Line 2.

Change has come

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, President Rodrigo Duterte said the number of trains would be increased from 16 to 20 for the MRT-3. Speed limit would also be hiked from 40 kph to 60 kph.

MRT also started posting the status of train availability on its website and on its Twitter account. In 2015, the number of operational trains on a normal day went down from 24 to 14, causing very long queues during peak hours. In June 2016, MRT-3 General Manager Roman Buenafe said maintenance provider Busan Transportation Co. has begun refurbishing 43 light rail vehicles.

In the first few weeks of July, improvements were already felt by the commuters. The number of operational trains already went up to 19 trains during peak hours based on availability reports, significantly reducing the length of queues. Some netizens also expressed their recent experience in riding the MRT through their social media accounts.

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MRT-3’s operational trains went up to as high as 19 trains from the previous average of 13 to 14 trains during peak hours.

CCTV

In 2013, the MRT also launched a project where the public can monitor the situation inside MRT stations, including platforms and ticketing booths. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) installed at each station can be viewed via live streaming at www.dotcmrt3.gov.ph/cctv.

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MRT’s live CCTV streaming.

MRT-3

MRT-3 is a 16.9-kilometer rail system that runs along EDSA from Quezon City to Pasay City. It was constructed in 1997 and became fully operational in 2000. [techthetruth]


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