When the Department of Transportation (DoTr) took over the operations of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 in November 2017, it thought it could do a better job of handling the busy railway line than the private sector.
Since then, the situation has gotten worse. The system is down to six trains, woefully inadequate to service the more than half a million passengers who depend on the MRT3 every day to take them to work and back home.
As a result, the long queues grew even longer, making the already miserable Metro Manila commute even more unbearable.
And more problems are cropping up.
Last week, for instance, hundreds of passengers had to be offloaded from the coaches almost every day because of electrical problems.
MRT3’s latest trouble is a predictable one —the lack of spare parts. The DoTr has promised to add four more trains to the system with the arrival of spare parts ordered from overseas this week.
The lack of spare parts in stock, at the outset, indicates lack of oversight, given the MRT3’s history of almost weekly, if not daily, breakdowns.
The DoTr has to come up with a solution quickly, and there appears to be one — the trains from Chinese supplier Dalian Rolling Stock bought by the sacked private operator, Busan Universal Railway Inc. or BURI.
There were two major issues with the Dalian locomotives: the lack of a signaling system and weight of the cars.
If the reports are correct, these two issues will be resolved within weeks.
There will soon be a signaling system that will work with the MRT3 system. As for the weight of the coaches, a foreign consultant has said these were already within the allowable weight, even with passengers aboard. Tests are being conducted to validate this.
As a result, there is a clamor on social media to finally use the Dalian trains.
We understand, though, that what the DoTr wants is to have the Dalian trains certified first as good to go by a third-party entity.
The DoTr should not be faulted for exercising prudence and caution before deploying these trains.
The public should wait for expert clearance of the Dalian coaches; or the riding public could be cursing the DoTr for even bigger MRT3 mishaps in the future.