By Alexandria San Juan
The Light Rail Transit-Line 2 (LRT-2) resumed partial operations Tuesday with only five trains running the stretch from Cubao to Recto stations and back, resulting in longer waiting time for commuters and additional expenses for affected passengers.
The LRT-2 was shut down for four days after transformers supplying power to three eastern stations exploded and caught fire, forcing commuters to find other means of transportation to reach their destinations.
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesperson Hernan Cabrera said LRT-2 will operate from 6 a.m. in both Recto and Cubao stations, with the last trip leaving Cubao station at 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. from Recto station.
“Definitely, [waiting time is longer] with only five trains. And with the need to control their movement within the affected area, we are experiencing a gap of around ten minutes from the normal three to five minutes,” Cabrera added.
The partial operation was allowed to ease the burden of commuters taking the route and to give way for maintenance works in the severely damaged power rectifiers to restore the full operation of the LRT-2 system within six to nine months.
Currently, Anonas, Katipunan and Santolan stations are still out of service while the power supply and signaling systems are still down due to the incident that happened last week.
Even with the partial operation of LRT-2, Cabrera said LRTA is still losing P1.5 million daily.
“Everytime we do not operate full line, every day we incur losses of around P4.2 million and if we operate partially, like in this particular case, we incur around P1.5 million economic loss daily,” he stated.
Cabrera shared only five trains or 20 coaches were dispatched to run the entire Cubao-Recto line to prevent overloading of the train’s power system. The LRT-2 has a total of 10 train sets.
“We are now operating only five trains. We can only make use of five because of the power supply problem that we are encountering here in the area [Cubao station] and to prevent overloading on the power system,” Cabrera explained.
The adjustments are reportedly made to ensure safety of passengers and due to the sufficiency of power supply coming from the remaining rectifier substations.
For 19-year-old student Precious Echague, the partial operation means added expense on her transport budget as Katipunan Station, her drop-off point remains closed.
One way, Echague said she normally spends P20 train fare from Pureza Station to Katipunan Station and P8 jeepney fare from Katipunan to the University of the Philippines where she is an anthropology major. With the Katipunan station closed, Echague adds another jeepney ride to her daily travel.
There are times when Echague spends around P250 for a motorcycle-taxi ride just to beat the morning traffic. What used to be a 20-minute travel has been stretched to two hours because of traffic.
Meanwhile, to augment PUVs servicing affected passengers, Cabrera said point-to-point buses were already fielded at Masinag, Emerald and Santolan stations to and from Legarda, while 40 modernized Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) were deployed to ferry passengers from Santolan to Legarda.
A Bus Service Loop is also available at Santolan, Katipunan, Anonas and Cubao.
The PUVs and buses operate from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with fare rate of P15 from Santolan to Cubao and P25 from Masinag to Legarda.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will also continue to provide free bus rides to affected passengers daily beginning 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Santolan to Cubao and back.
The 13.8-kilometer long LRT-2 is servicing around 240,000 passengers with trains running across 11 stations from Santolan in Marikina City to Recto in Manila when fully operational.
Opened in 2003, the LRT-2 is the youngest among the current LRTA monorails and has the shortest route among the existing railway systems in the country and the main mode of transportation for commuters with destinations along Aurora Boulevard, Araneta Avenue, Marcos Highway, Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue.
The Line 2 also provides easy access for commuters as two stations – Recto and Cubao – connects to LRT-Line 1 (LRT-1) and the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 (MRT-3), respectively.