public transportation

Metro Manila urban cable car? DOTr teases new rail projects

Lance Spencer Yu

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Metro Manila urban cable car? DOTr teases new rail projects

LRT1. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista leads the technical site visit of the LRT1 Cavite Extension Phase 1, at Barangay San Dionisio, Las Pinas City, on November 14, 2022.

(1ST UPDATE) Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista also hinted at a Skytrain between Fort Bonifacio and Makati, MRT10 and MRT11, LRT6 in Cavite, and a Cebu monorail

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) long-standing dream of setting up cable cars across Metro Manila may be a step closer to reality as Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista hints the project is included in the government’s pipeline of railway works.

“There are other rail projects in the pipeline. Here are some teasers – a Skytrain between Fort Bonifacio and Makati, MRT10 and MRT11, LRT6 in Cavite, a Cebu monorail, and the Metro Manila urban cable car project,” Bautista said in an event on Wednesday, April 12, as he gave updates on the current state of transportation in the Philippines.

Though these projects may still be in the early planning phase, they are not entirely new. Former DOTr secretary Arthur Tugade had previously pushed for the establishment of a Metro Manila cable car system, citing his experience in Bolivia, which has the world’s largest system of cable cars.

Under Tugade, a cable car system for Metro Manila underwent a France-funded feasibility study. In 2021, the proposed Marikina-Ortigas cable car project was endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Bautista also said that the DOTr was looking for private investors for the following projects:

  • PNR North Long-Haul, which reaches the Ilocos Norte and Cagayan regions
  • PNR South Long-Haul, which stretches to the Bicol region
  • Subic-Clark Railway, which connects to the freeport zones of Subic Bay and Clark
  • Mindanao Railway, which will be the first railway in Mindanao

The Transportation Secretary also said that he has formally asked the Asian Development Bank to assist in looking for “the most qualified private operators” of the Metro Manila Subway and the North-South Commuter Railway once completed.

Ongoing projects

Bautista also said that the LRT1 Cavite Extension project is slated to commence partial operations by September 2024. It hopes to cut travel time between Baclaran and Sucat to ten minutes.

The opening of the Unified Grand Central Station, or the Common Station, will also be pushed further back from the original date of May 2023.

“We visited the facility two weeks ago. Marami pang dapat ayusin. Unang-una ’yung Automated Fare Collection System. There are some things we need to settle. Also ’yung signaling system din,” Bautista said.

(There’s still plenty of things to fix. First is the Automated Fare Collection System. There are some things we need to settle. We also have to fix the signaling system.)

Bautista said that it will hopefully open within the year, just as the LRT1 connection to the Common Station is set to finish as well.

The Common Station will serve to connect the three train lines of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), and Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT7).

Meanwhile, the first ten stations of the long-delayed MRT7 are expected to become operational by the third quarter of 2025, according to Railway Undersecretary Cesar Chavez. The Caloocan and Bulacan stations are still expected to be completed in 2027.

“MRT7, 56% completed na [ang] civil works (around 56% of civil works is completed),” Chavez said in a chance interview on Tuesday, April 11. “Malaki na ang progress (We’ve made a lot of progress).”

The MRT7, which costs around P77 billion, will have 14 stations from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan. The project, which has been hounded by right-of-way issues, was originally scheduled to start full operations in December 2022, before being delayed further to 2023. 

Sobrang delayed na sila. Remember, 2003 pa ito tapos ‘yung contract singing, 2014. Construction, 2016. Delayed na sila,” Chavez added. 

(They’re already very delayed. Remember, this began in 2003, and then the contract signing was in 2014. Construction started in 2016. They’re delayed.) – 

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.