Light rail or subway?
Light rail or subway?
A light rail network is easier and cheaper than a subway system, says Metro Pacific Investments Corporation’s Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines – Developing the country’s rail network through a light rail system is more viable than a subway system, infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) said.

MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said building a light rail system is easier and cheaper than the subway system pursued by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“Our view there, frankly, is that let’s build a viable light rail system within the city. And then a subway will be the next step.  It’s going to be extremely expensive,” Pangilinan said.

DOTC is pursuing the P370-billion ($8.39-billion) Mass Transit System Loop project that would connect the cities of Makati, Taguig, and Pasay, now pending before the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

However, Pangilinan said the government should first pursue expanding the light rail network before venturing into the subway system.

“Let’s exhaust all possibilities of a light rail system in the city, and then stage two, subway. It’s heavier in scope, it’s a heavier system and it can carry more passengers. I think eventually the Philippines should have a subway system. It’s just a question of timing,” Pangilinan added.

MPIC, chaired by Pangilinan, earlier expressed their interest in the project. MPIC has partnered with conglomerate Ayala Corporation, dubbed the Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC). The tandem bagged a P64.9-billion ($1.47-billion) contract to extend the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT1) all the way to Bacoor, Cavite, from Baclaran in Pasay City.

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

The Mass Transit Loop project aims to improve inter-city linkage by providing a higher capacity public transportation system. It also intends to address the high volume of vehicular traffic traversing the major business districts of Metro Manila.

Given Metro Manila’s current infrastructure, it was also determined that the approximately 12-kilometer rail line will need to run mostly underground, making the public-private partnership (PPP) project the first subway in the country.

NEDA asked DOTC to present the route using 26th Street instead of 32nd Street inside Bonifacio Global City for because the government would have to shell out an additional P20 billion ($453.80 million) for the route using 32nd Street, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya previously explained.

DOTC prefers 32nd Street as the last stop because the 26th Street route could entail some legal issues and impediments as the subway system would have to pass through Manila Golf along McKinley Avenue.

DOTC is hoping that the proposed subway system could be presented within the year to the NEDA Board chaired by President Benigno Aquino III.


US$1 = P44.06

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