By Alexandria San Juan
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has deployed more buses to augment public utility vehicles transporting passengers affected by the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) Holy Week maintenance shutdown.
At least 160 additional passenger buses were deployed by the DOTr through its intensified EDSA Bus Augmentation Program to help regular MRT-3 passengers as the railway temporarily suspend operations for its annual maintenance.
The additional bus units, which were given special permits by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to transport passengers to their destinations on the MRT-3 route, will be deployed along with the 140 buses earlier allowed to travel.
According to the DOTr, buses under the augmentation program will be deployed beginning 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., from Holy Monday until Holy Wednesday, and from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday, on both the northbound and southbound routes of the MRT-3.
The buses will have staging areas on the corner of West Avenue and EDSA in Quezon City and at Roxas Boulevard corner EDSA in Pasay City.
Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade reminded passengers taking these buses that fares are based on the MRT-3 fare matrix.
Tugade also encouraged other bus operators to assist in its bus augmentation program to further help passengers especially this Holy Wednesday when more passengers are expected to travel to provinces.
He said additional buses are needed to cater to about 320,000 to 350,000 daily passengers of the MRT-3.
This was echoed by LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III who shared a more simple process to obtain a special permit.
“Hindi po sila mauubusan ng pasahero dahil mataas ang demand sa alternatibong sasakyan bunsod ng MRT maintenance shutdown. Ang kailangan lang po, pumunta sila sa LTFRB, didikitan sila ng stickers at bibigyan sila ng fare matrix. Sa ganitong pagkakataon, kailangan namin ang kooperasyon ng mga bus operator,” Delgra added.
This year’s one-week maintenance shutdown, which will run from April 15, Holy Monday, to April 21, Easter Sunday, is longer compared to previous years as maintenance activities are taking longer than expected.
These will include changing critical turnouts or rail grinding for railway maintenance, structural testing, topographic surveys, among others.
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan explained that the current state of the train system is in dire need of more comprehensive repairs.
“We are asking for the understanding of our rider because we are making every effort to restore our MRT as fast as possible. We know that the MRT is really corrupt or in the degraded mode now so the repairs are huge. So, DOTr and all those in the road sector are working together to ease the havoc in the public,” Batan said in a statement on Monday.
The MRT-3 will be back on its regular operations on Monday, 5:30 a.m.