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MRT will be better off under private sector management

Calls to place the management of Metro Rail Transit or MRT under the management of a private firm while remaining to be publicly owned have been reiterated following the derailing of an MRT shuttle in Taft Avenue station in Pasay City, which injured about 38 people on Wednesday.


In a statement, Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian explained the unfortunate incident does not only bring to light the need to review emergency procedures and the retraining of MRT staff but also the way the MRT is being managed.


“It is impossible that the people in-charge of the train are not aware of the likelihood that a non-operating train might break off from the coupling given the geography of the area. This just shows a lack of foresight on possible tragedies,” Gatchalian said.


“It also shows their lack of concern for passengers,” the lawmaker added.


Gatchalian, a vice chair of House Committee on Metro Manila Development, had earlier filed House Resolution No. 1013 that asked House Committees on Transportation and Metro Manila Development to investigate the MRT’s unsafe and unreliable services.


He noted the Malacanang should take the cue from Wednesday’s accident that the MRT should be handled by a capable private firm, which will be hired by the government to take care of the train’s operations and maintenance.


“Such managing firm will have to follow performance targets as agreed with the government such as timely arrival of trains and even sanitary comfort rooms to avoid facing penalties,” Gatchalian explained.


The former Valenzuela City mayor also pointed out that under this model, the managing company will have no right to increase MRT fares because it will not have to recover investment.


He said private firm will be better than the current MRT management because it is being paid to be efficient or else shell out money for penalties, stressing: “If the firm does not make a good performance record, the government can open the table to other interested parties.”


“The riding public has suffered enough. The MRT used to bring inconveniences because of its frequent glitches and limited operations, but now it also brings bodily harm to passengers. The public deserves a better but still affordable mode of transportation,” Gatchalian explained.


Gatchalian’s proposed setup is similar to that between French firm Keolis SA and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, wherein the former is the operator of the latter’s commuter rail system following a set of performance targets and penalties.


Gatchalian also called on the Department of Transportation and Communications or DOTC to review the emergency procedure to avert similar mishaps in the future.


He also urged concerned agencies not to dilly-dally in the probe and to make the process and results transparent to the public. (Monica Cantilero)