Department of Transportation and Communications

Bam: Solve Long Lines Outside Airports, Trains

While they are focused on the long-term programs to improve the country’s transportation infrastructure, a senator asked government agencies not to overlook the current user experience of the public in airports and train stations.

During the hearing, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco revealed that almost P1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects that will improve the country’s rail, airport and mass transit systems are already in the pipeline.

“While we need to ensure on the progress of these development projects to make sure that we reach these timelines, it is also important to look at the current experiences of our passengers and commuters in our airports and trains,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, referring to the long queues in airports and train stations.

“I have no experience of another airport which asks the passengers to have checks before they enter the airport,” added Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

While he’s aware of security concerns, Sen. Bam said concerned government agencies must come up with a better process that can be comfortable to our passengers.

“The same goes for our train riders, who have to endure the heat of the sun or rain while waiting in line. This is a big inconvenience that needs to be immediately solved,” the senator added.

Sen. Bam recently filed Senate Resolution No. 1115 calling for an inquiry to look into the prioritization of transportation infrastructure projects and the efficiency of systems management in seaports, airports, expressways and national roads.

Limcaoco said around P890 billion worth of rail and other mass transit projects will create nine additional lines and three additional terminals, accommodating an additional 2.2 million passengers daily.

The projects will establish 140 additional passenger stations and 120 kilometers of additional road and rail mass transit that will cut down average travel time from 2 ½ hours to just one hour.

Limcaoco said the government will earmark about P77.47 billion for the  expansion and modernization of the country’s main airports, including international airports in Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguindingan, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo and Bacolod.

When asked by Sen. Bam about the timelines of these projects, Limcaoco said the rail and other mass transit projects will be completed in the next five years while the airport projects will be finished in three years.

“It is important for the public to be aware of these programs so we can ensure and monitor that these plans will be completed at the soonest possible time,” Sen. Bam emphasized.


Sen. Bam Lauds Government’s Efforts to Thresh out Uber Issue

Senator Bam Aquino has lauded the joint efforts of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Uber operators to thresh out regulation issues and work for the welfare of the commuting public.

“As I always say, if we work together, we can do things that will alleviate the plight of the public, especially the commuters,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino also welcomed the DOTC’s move to reach out to uber operators, saying the government must support innovation and new technology that will beef up its current programs.

“Instead of curtailing them, the government should welcome alternative and new ideas from the private sector as they can help reinforce existing initiative to solve traffic woes,” the senator said.

Earlier, the DOTC, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and uber operators discussed ways to iron out issues regarding existing franchising rules that hamper the latter’s operation.

“We need to support innovative start-up ideas in solving our age-old problems such as the safety and order of our commuting public,” Aquino added.

During the meeting, the LTFRB proposed several moves that will update applicable rules in order to accommodate uber vehicles.

Uber operators, for their part, will work on improving their safety measures, passenger insurance and safety inspection to ensure roadworthiness of their vehicles.

Uber is a high-tech transportation network that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of private vehicles for hire and car-pooling services. The company arranges pickups wherein cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app and within 10 minutes the vehicle would arrive

The uber system helps alleviate the monstrous traffic problems in California, especially through car-pooling.

“The government needs all the help it can get, especially from the private sector, as it continues to find ways to improve the country’s mass transport system and solve the perennial traffic problem,” the senator said.

MRT 40-Minute Waiting Time Unacceptable – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino urged concerned government and private entities to work together to reduce the waiting time for thousands of commuters to ride the MRT-3 from 40 minutes to 10 minutes.

Aquino made this call after he was informed that the waiting time for passengers before they could alight the trains will go down by 75 percent if the proposed rehabilitation plan worth P6.8 billion for the MRT-3 is fully implemented.

“Let’s work together to achieve this 10-minute waiting time. We owe it to the thousands of commuting Filipinos to make life easier for them everyday,” Aquino said after the hearing of the Senate committee on public services on the MRT-3 accident that injured more than 30 people last Aug. 13.

Aquino expressed disappointment when he was informed that the rehabilitation plan could take up to two years with all the legal wrangling between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private entity.

Aquino branded the Metro Rail Transit-3 as a failed public-private partnership (PPP).

“This is not a good example of PPP, with what happened to our MRT,” Aquino stressed.

Aquino advised DOTC officials to learn from the MRT-3 experience to avoid problems in the future.

 “Can we say that we have learned from experience already and this would not happen again?” Sen. Bam asked DOTC officials, to which they replied ‘yes.’

At the same, the senator also urged the transportation officials to earmark the needed funds to rehabilitate a critical component that causes the MRT-3’s frequent malfunction at the soonest possible time.

The DOTC revealed the trains’ traction motors are the main cause of MRT breakdown as they have reached its limit of usage of 1.5 million kilometers.

 However, Aquino noticed in the presentation that the P94,500,000 fund needed for replacement of traction motors is earmarked in the 2016 budget.

“If this is the main reason why our trains have stopped, how come it wasn’t in the budget last year?” Aquino asked.

Abaya said he has already requested the Department of Budget and Management to include the needed funds in the supplemental budget for 2014.

“If it’s not successful, it will be included in the 2015 budget,” Abaya guaranteed. 

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