LRT-2 to give way to BRT
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2016 - 12:00am

Philtrak proposes to dismantle rail track

MANILA, Philippines – Philtrak Inc. has proposed to completely dismantle the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) and install intelligent trackways or a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, to provide a new mode of transport in Metro Manila and help do away with taxpayers’ subsidies for operations of the railway.

In a letter to Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade dated Aug. 11, 2016, Philtrak president Francis Yuseco said the group intends to dismantle LRT-2 which currently covers Recto station in Manila until Santolan station in Pasig, as well as cement the carriage way and install the BRT at no cost to taxpayers.

He said the group is ready to put an initial fleet of 30 articulated bus units with a combined capacity of 243,000 passengers per day for the current 13.8-kilometer elevated railway, immediately after the signing of the contract with the government.

The intelligent track system or BRT will operate 24/7 and have headways of every two minutes during peak hours, to be adjusted to five, 10, 15 and 20 minutes as needed.

It will likewise follow the same fare box matrix as the LRT-2.

Yuseco said the proposed system would not need subsidies from taxpayers.

“The net reverse subsidy fee in favor of the taxpayers equals P12.1 billion per year,” he said.

On top of removing the average subsidy of taxpayers worth P12.1 billion for a railway, he said the proposal also provides a reverse subsidy fee in the amount of P100 million per year with an annual increase of five percent.

He said the same system could be implemented in the unused lanes of the right of way of the Philippine National Railways.

Last week, Tugade announced the Transport department is looking at converting the LRT-2 to a BRT or a system wherein buses operate within a dedicated right of way, similar to what is being implemented in cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.

The shift to a BRT is seen to address LRT-2’s ageing system as well as its maintenance.

“But this needs a lot of thinking. It needs a lot of planning and we have to get a lot of approval,” Tugade said.

The previous administration offered the operation and maintenance of LRT-2 as one of the projects under the public-private partnership program but the deal was unable to go through bidding.

Groups pre-qualified by the previous administration to bid for the operations and maintenance of the LRT-2 were Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and SMRT Transport Solutions Consortium; D.M. Consunji and Tokyo Metro Co., consortium; Light Rail Manila Holdings 2 Inc. Consortium (Light Rail Manila Holdings of Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., RATP TRANSDEV Asia, and RATP Developpement SA); and San Miguel Holdings Corp. and Korea Railroad Corp. consortium.

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