By Emmie Abadilla
The government on Wednesday expressed openness to privatizing the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2), the operations of which will remain suspended for the next nine months after a rectifier caught fire.
Privatization is one of the “options that are open,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade acknowledged. But “Whether it will materialize, only the future can tell.”
Privatizing the operation and maintenance of the railway can ensure that disruptions of this nature will not happen, according to industry observers.
LRT-2 was shut down on Oct. 3 due to the fire and the government scrambled to find alternative transport for the railway’s 200,000 daily passengers.
Then it was partially operational, with trips only from Cubao Terminal in Quezon City to C.M. Recto Avenue Station in Manila and vice versa. Anonas, Katipunan, and Santolan stations remained closed.
At present, the government is exhausting all possibilities to shorten the nine-month closure of a critical portion of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2), including the procurement of necessary parts and equipment from neighboring countries or the repurposing of newly-acquired hardware supposedly for the train system’s extension.
“We are looking at the possibility of procuring existing parts of other train operators and manufacturers in nearby countries,” according to Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Spokesperson Hernando Cabrera. “This may be much more expensive than our initial route, but the stress and hardship that this causes to our passengers is immeasurable.”
To help affected commuters, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued special permits to eight bus companies to ply the Santolan-Cubao route as an alternative mode of transportation, with a total of 89 bus units to be deployed.