By Charissa Luci-Atienza
House Committee on Transportation chairman and Samar 1st district Rep Edgar Mary Sarmiento asked the Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Tuesday to order for “a full maintenance and systems fix” for the country’s dilapidated rail systems.
He said the government’s imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) should serve as a virtual “reset button” for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) and all the lines of the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
“We have to take advantage of the enhanced community quarantine as a sort of reset button of the rail systems. All the needed repair works in the past are not fully carried out because we cannot stop the operation of these rail systems. Now that the President has ordered a complete shutdown of their operation, maybe it is the best time to fix all the rolling stocks to include the railway system,” Sarmiento said.
He said it will only be a lost opportunity if the DOTr will not issue a directive to the managements of the rail systems to fix all the problems plaguing their operations.
Under the ECQ, all operations of the MRT and the LRT lines are suspended.
Sarmiento reminded the LRT and MRT managements to ensure that all their personnel involved in the repair and maintenance works will fully observe biohazard protocols to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
He said during the ECQ, the government should also start setting up the needed infrastructure and finalize the operational details of the proposed centralized and synchronized bus dispatch system along EDSA.
“We might need to set up bus stops and access areas from the MRT 3 stations to the loading and unloading areas in the inner EDSA lanes,” Sarmiento said.
He also called on the government to provide free shuttle service to all frontline personnel involved in the fight against the COVID-19.
The House leader proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to tap shuttle buses of all government offices including Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) to pick up the frontline personnel near their homes and bring them near their workplaces and vice-versa.
He said the government’s shuttle buses can have regular trips along Metro Manila’s major transportation routes.
“If it’s not enough, the government can charter buses on a per trip basis which can used as shuttle services for frontliners,” Sarmiento said.
Those who can only avail of free shuttle services are people with identification cards issued by the IATF-EID, he said.(Charissa M. Luci-Atienza)