MANILA, Philippines – In response to a viral post, the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) management explained on Friday, August 24, that charging a maximum stay period is part of the railway operating procedure.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, August 22, commuter Miriam Cabiles said that she was “unfairly charged” an overtime fee of P28, after waiting for an hour and a half to finally board a less crowded MRT3 train in Araneta Cubao Station going to Buendia Station.
“[T]he cashier asked me to pay P28 because I overstayed in Cubao…which only happened because the trains that kept on arriving in Cubao were crazy overcrowded that only a person or two could get inside at a time. And I was fifteenth in line, so imagine how many trains I had to wait for just to be able to hop on,” Cabiles said.
“I’m expecting that this might happen again in the future, but I don’t plan on paying you guys P28 every single time it does. I don’t plan on compensating you for your incompetency,” she added.
In response, the MRT3 management said that an overtime charge is being implemented “for security reasons and to avoid turn back of passengers.”
“Please note that the MRT-3 allows a passenger to stay within the paid area for a maximum of two hours (not one hour as stated in Ms. Cabiles’ post). Prescribing a maximum stay period is a standard railway operating procedure that is implemented for security reasons and to avoid the turn back of passengers,” the MRT3 said in a statement on Friday.
The railway management also clarified that the two-hour maximum period was only implemented this year, longer than the 99-minute maximum stay policy before given current conditions of the MRT3.
According to initial investigation, MRT3 said that Cabiles waited for one hour and a half to board a train, despite 10 trains and two skipping trains that stopped in Araneta Cubao Station.
The “skipping train” scheme is the MRT3’s way of deploying trains directly to high-volume stations.
They also said that it took Cabiles 13 minutes to exit Buendia Station after alighting the train.
The MRT3 management said that they continue to review the “appropriateness” of the two-hour overstay scheme given the current operating condition of the MRT3.
“On a more general level, MRT3 wishes to note that in cases where there is a big volume of passengers who will be charged the overstay charge at the same time in a particular station, for example due to lack of trains or any service interruption, the Station Supervisor may override a turnstile so that affected passengers may exit without paying the overstay charge,” they said.
“DOTr and MRT3 will continue to monitor and review the appropriateness of the 2-hours overstay parameter given the operating condition of MRT3, and will also remind Station Supervisors to follow standard procedures in cases of service disruption or fewer than usual train availability,” they added.
Since the year started, the MRT3 has broken down 63 times and experienced a record low of 6 running trains back in February.
An average of 15 trains operate daily, with some 340,000 people served.
In a bid to improve the current conditions of the MRT3, Japan’s Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) is set to take over as the new maintenance provider. Sumitomo-MHI built and designed the MRT3 railway system from 1998 to 2000, and maintained it until 2012. – Rappler.com