Coming in 2018: LRT2's Masinag and Emerald stations
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said there is no stopping the expansion and rehabilitation of the youngest mass transit railway line in Metro Manila – be it changes in government policy or armed conflict. (READ: LRT2 East, West extension projects to be completed in 2019)
"Even if there is friction in Marawi City, life must go on. This should not deter us from pushing for our economy to grow and prosper," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in front of businessmen, government officials, and media during a groundbreaking ceremony in Antipolo City.
On Tuesday, May 30, the DOTr broke ground for the construction of the two additional stations of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT2).
The construction of a 3.793-kilometer elevated viaduct, extending LRT2 from Santolan, Pasig City to Masinag, Antipolo City has already been completed.
What is left to be done is the construction of LRT2 Emerald Station in front of Robinsons Metro East and Sta Lucia as well as LRT2 Masinag Station in front of SM Masinag in Antipolo City.
Set to be completed in August 2018, the two additional stations are designed to accommodate 80,000 more passengers daily during the first 5 years of operations. This will add to the current average of 240,000 daily ridership for the LRT2.
Travel time from Recto in Manila to Masinag will be reduced to 40 minutes from the usual 3 hours via bus or jeepney.
Tugade took the LRT2 East Extension project as an example of how the government is taking its infrastructure commitments seriously, while attending to other state concerns.
"Economic development must continue to prosper despite the problem in Marawi. And given the problem in Marawi, we must all bundle together as a nation, so that this problem can be solved rightfully and as fast as we can," he said in his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony.
The crisis in Marawi City, which led to the declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao, has stirred concerns in the business community.
But Tugade gave an assurance on Tuesday that the armed conflict will not hamper programs and projects meant to boost the Philippine economy.
The P9.5-billion ($211.12-million) LRT2 East Extension project was initiated during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III in 2015. The funding for the deal's viaduct and stations are from the national government, while the electro-mechanical and consultancy services are being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
When President Rodrigo Duterte took office, some rail infrastructure projects implemented during the Aquino administration were brought back to the drawing board due to policy changes. But not the LRT2.
In implementing projects, the Duterte administration has said it will avoid the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme as much as possible, arguing that it is costlier and takes more time than other modes like funding through Official Development Assistance (ODA) or the national budget.
Under the original plan, the operations and maintenance of the LRT2 were supposed to be auctioned off later on via PPP. But according to Tugade, this is still being evaluated by the administration.
As for the LRT2 West Extension, Tugade said his department is eyeing to push through with it by the end of the year.
"My instruction is while we are doing the East, we should start the West Extension as well. My target is before the end of the year only if the bureaucratic processes are completed," Tugade said.
The LRT2 West Extension will run from Recto Station, extending westward to the Pier 4 area, including the turn-back track. This project was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority in May 2015.
It will have a total length of approximately 3.02 kilometers and with 3 proposed additional stations: Tutuban (next to the Cluster Mall); Divisoria (west of the Recto Avenue and Asuncion Street intersection); and Pier 4 (located 50 meters north of Zaragoza Street).
Currently, the youngest of the 3 main elevated railways in Metro Manila has a design capacity of 240,000 passengers daily and only runs from Santolan to Recto. – Rappler.com