NEDA bats for cheaper subway route

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is pushing for the cheaper route in building the country’s first subway system through the P370 billion Mass Transit System Loop project that would connect the cities of Makati, Taguig, and Pasay.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said NEDA has asked the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to present the route using the 26th Street instead of the 32nd Street inside the Bonifacio Global City.

“We are a team player, NEDA asked us to present the route using the 26th Street,” he said.

Abaya said NEDA prefers the route using the 26th Street as the government would have to shell out an additional P20 billion for the route using the 32nd Street.

“It’s a difference in cost. The route using the 32nd Street is expected to P20 billion more and that is a huge amount that could be used for school buildings, health centers, and scholarships,” he added.

If it passes through the 26th Street, the stations would include Market-Market, McKinley Parkway, 5th Ave., Ayala/EDSA, Ayala Triangle, Makati Post Office, PNR Buendia, Buendia/Taft Ave., World Trade Center, Mall of Asia, and EDSA/Taft Ave.

On the other hand, the system terminates in 32nd Street, the stations include Market-Market, St. Lukes Medical Center, MRT3 Buendia Station, Ayala/EDSA, Ayala Triangle, Makati Post Office, PNR Buendia, Buendia/Taft Ave., World Trade Center, Mall of Asia, EDSA/Taft Ave.

Abaya said the DOTC prefers the route using the 32nd Street as the route using the 26th Street could lead to a legal impediment or temporary restraining order (TRO) as the subway system would have to pass through Manila Golf along McKinley Ave.

 “The risk in using the 26th Street would have to be evaluated because they could take this to the court for a TRO. Initially we were looking at 32nd Street, although more expensive, it has a more predictable environment and it is important that we implement the project,” Abaya said.

The DOTC is hopeful that the proposed subway system could be presented to the NEDA Board chaired by President Aquino within the year.

It aims to improve inter-city linkage by providing a higher capacity public transportation system that would facilitate fast and convenient mobility of goods and services. The mass transit project also intends to address the high volume of vehicular traffic traversing in these major business districts of the Metro.

The proposed 12-kilometer loop would connect the fast-developing Bonifacio Global City, Makati Central Business District, and the Mall of Asia area in Pasay City.

Given Metro Manila’s current infrastructure, it was also determined that the rail line of approximately 12-kilometer will need to run mostly underground, making this the first subway in the country.

The government is looking at increasing urban mass transport ridership to 2.2 million per day by 2016 or 2017 from the current level of 1.2 million per day under the government’s Rail Transport Development Plan.

The DOTC would develop intermodal facilities and at the same time improve transport linkages and efficiency to production and consumption markets.

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