Tokyo Metro: It’s time to build a subway in PH

Chrisee Dela Paz

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Tokyo Metro: It’s time to build a subway in PH
But before the Philippines builds its first subway, the operator of Tokyo's 9 subway lines says the country should fix the congested MRT3 first

MANILA, Philippines – Tokyo Metro Company Limited, operator of 9 subway lines in Japan’s busy capital, offered unsolicited advice to the Philippines for its horrendous traffic situation: revive the Metro Manila subway system project and improve the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

When asked about his commute in Metro Manila, Atsushi Kamimura, Tokyo Metro’s manager for demand generation and marketing, replied that with the current traffic situation, it is high time for the Philippines to push through with its P374.5-billion ($8.08-billion) project to build a subway connecting the cities of Makati, Pasay, and Taguig.

“The subway has many passengers, so that would mean fewer cars driving. With the subway, I expect no more traffic,” Kamimura said on the sidelines of a press conference in Pasay City last week.

The Mass Transit System Loop or Light Rail Transit Line 5 would have been the most expensive public-private partnership (PPP) deal implemented under former president Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

But it was removed from the PPP pipeline because of scheduling constraints, with officials saying that talks on the subway’s final alignment were “eating up much time.”

MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM LOOP. The subway system will link Bonifacio Global City, the Makati Central Business District, and the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, according to the PPP Center. Map from the PPP Center

The Duterte administration said the subway PPP deal is now being revisited because “there is demand for the service.” (READ: 5 failed, shelved PPP projects under Aquino admin)

Under the old plan, the project would be a 20-kilometer (km) system that will consist of a 16-km tunnel, a 4-km elevated railway, and 11 stations. 

The subway system is seen to link the Makati Central Business District, the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig.

‘Fix MRT3’

But before the country starts to build its first subway, the Tokyo Metro official said it should fix and improve the congested MRT3 first.

“I don’t know whether it’s (MRT3) safe or not…They really need to do something since it is congested during rush hour,” Kamimura said.

“Interval of MRT trains here in the Philippines should be around two minutes only. MRT here is too dark,” he added.

In the face of public criticism due to the railway system’s substandard and sometimes perilous service, the Aquino administration had ordered 48 new MRT3 cars from Chinese supplier Dalian Locomotive.

Continuing what has been done, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade promised to increase the MRT3’s speed to 50 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the current 40 km/h, and the passenger per hour per destination to 15,760 from 14,184.

Within his first 100 days, Tugade had said his department will increase MRT3 trains to 20 with 60 cars, from the current 16 with 48 cars.

For Tokyo Metro, Kamimura said it has no plans yet of participating in infrastructure projects in the country.

But he disclosed that his firm is helping the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in preparatory studies for urban railways in Manila, among these the Metro Manila subway project. –

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