I have had a couple of occassions to ride both the MRT 3 & LRT 1 recently. And, I have to say, I came away w/ mixed emotions about it.
The LRT 1 / MRT 3 is the cheapest, & fastest way to go around the Metropolis. The MRT 3, for example, is the only transportation available in the city that will take you from EDSA-Taft, to North EDSA in 30 minutes or so. In airconditioned comfort. At only P15 per ride.
I took an airconditioned bus on the way back, & it cost me P26. And it took me 1 & 1/2 hours.
However, both transportation systems have 2 main problems:
* Inefficient Ticket Distribution System
* Overcrowding in the Trains
On the main MRT 3 stations, like EDSA-Taft, for example, it will take one about 10-15 min. to queue for a ticket on MOST (take note, not just SOME) hours, during weekdays, & even Saturdays. Even on the big stations, the spaces are barely enough to contain the lines of crowds trying to get a ticket. This, of course, is a extreme security risk. Never mind terrorism, a more common problem would be petty crime, like pickpocketing.
I think the main cause is that just isn’t enough ticket outlets even for the main stations. I count a total of 5 ticket outlets at the EDSA-Taft station, & they all are always filled during most of the day.
An obvious solution would be, to increase the no. of ticket outlets. Among possible solutions would be:
A) Vendo Machines – In more progressive cities like Hong Kong, or Singapore, there are always a lot of vendo machines on major stations. I saw one at the EDSA-Taft station, but its been there for YEARS now, & it seems that if the MRT 3 authority had plans of putting those in, it never seemed to have gotten off the ground, for some reason. Those vendo machines will not be cheap, of course, but they definitely will likely go a long way in terms of queueing up for a ticket faster.
B) Wider Distribution System – Right now, MRT tickets are being sold only on MRT 3 or LRT 1 stations (that I know of, anyway). A possible, alternative solution, would probably be to allow more private business outlets to sell the tickets. And not just any private business outlets. These should be the ones w/ the widest distribution network all over the city, like 7-11 shops & SM Malls.
Not only should these private business outlets be allowed to sell these tickets, there should also be an ample information campaign to make everyone on the availability of the tickets. No use having them sold on alternative outlets, if nobody knows about them. Information posted on the MRT stations, & on the alternative outlets themselves would go a long way to making people aware about them.
Overcrowding On Trains
Even if the problem on ticket distribution is solved, a more important problem, would be the overcrowding on the trains themselves. This issue, is getting worst on the MRT 3. However, on the LRT 1, it has become a crisis. The trains are always loaded on most hours of the day, so much so, that it is not worth riding the LRT 1 anymore.
So many people trying to get into the trains. And even if you wait for next 3-4 trains, the problem is still there, it doesn’t go away.
An obvious solution, would be:
A) More Trains – The LRT 1 administration should probably target cutting down the time between the arrival of trains to within 2-3 minutes on MOST (not just an hour during rush hours, but for 3-4 hr. spots during the day) OPERATIONAL HOURS of the day to ease the overcrowding.
B) Bigger Trains – The biggest Mass Rail transit trains in the country right now are those belonging to the MRT servicing the Recto to Marikina (MRT 2?). They are bigger than the LRT, or MRT trains. If there is a way to put those trains into the LRT 1 & MRT 3 routes, it will help decongest those 2 train systems.