Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Trains to progress

Ernesto Hilario
About Town
Business Mirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/15058-trains-to-progress-.html

If there’s one concrete project that the Arroyo administration can leave as a legacy to Metro Manilans, it’s the ongoing Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 extension from Monumento in Caloocan to North Triangle in Quezon City. Once completed, this will connect the oldest light-rail transit route in the country, LRT Line 1 running from Monumento to Baclaran, to Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 running from North Triangle to Baclaran.

Work on the LRT Line 1 extension began late last year, and at the rate it’s going, it should be finished by middle of next year. The interconnections will complete what transportation sector officials call a “loop,” the first in the country’s urban rail transport system.

That “loop” will allow commuters to travel to the major business and commercial districts in Metro Manila using the more efficient, more environment-friendly rail-transit system. That “loop” should also help ease the volume of street-level traffic in three major thoroughfares: Edsa, Taft Avenue and Rizal Avenue.

The extension and interconnection projects are the third major accomplishments of administration in the rail-transport system. The first was the low-profile construction and inauguration of LRT Line 2 which runs from C.M. Recto in Manila to Santolan in Pasig. This LRT line ferries thousands of students daily through two important academic districts: the University Belt area and UP-Katipunan.

The second is the recent acquisition of brand-new commuter coaches now plying the Monumento-Alabang route of the Philippine National Railways. President Arroyo recently inaugurated those units together with PNR Chairman Mike Defensor, who remains bullish about the prospects of the transportation sector in the country.

Once the LRT Line 1 extension and interconnection projects are completed, Defensor’s boss would have accomplished much as far as urban mass transportation is concerned.

Add to these urban mass-transport gains the opening and operation of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and that unheralded “Strong Republic” nautical highway. In fairness to Mrs. Arroyo, these should be considered part of the legacy of her administration.

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