Here’s a fun, new, interesting solution to the horrible traffic facing the city’s capital: provide business class coaches on the MRT so that commuters with more buying power can purchase premium tickets with more space.
Guess who gave this bright idea? Of course, Senator Grace “We don’t need emergency powers” Poe.
During the Senate hearing for the Department of Transportation’s 2020 budget, Poe suggested that “habang ginagawa niyo ‘yung Dalian trains, baka pwedeng (maglagay ng) a few specific coaches or trains that are designated as a business coach.”
Poe said that the price of this comfort would reach between P200 to P300 per day – an unreachable goal for many Filipino commuters who endure hour-long lines in all weather in order to cram into the MRT like sardines. Why do they do this? Because it is fast and cheap. It is a terrible experience, let me tell you, and it saps whatever soul you have left in you after a grueling day at the office. And now, we real commuters will get to see the elite with hundreds of pesos to throw away on a daily commute enjoy their luxury version of the MRT. The 48 Dalian trains which the government will soon deployed to supplement the overspilling MRTs are not enough to feed Poe’s inflated and misdirected sense of purpose.
If the Poe gets her way, the MRT will become just like our public spaces – only the rich can afford to exist comfortably. Most parks and recreational facilities have high entry prices – nearly all of the green spaces in the Metro are located in private subdivisions or are golf courses. Regular mortals are doomed to wander concrete jungles, with their daily exposure to nature limited to the vertical gardens along EDSA.
Poe proposed this in order to decongest the parking lot that is EDSA. She argued that “Yung mga tao who can afford to pay that amount are the ones that probably drive private vehicles.”
That is true. This will be a feature that attracts more riders to the MRT, especially those who think they are too good for public transport and who would rather spend the average minimum wage on a daily commute than mingle with others (even if there will be a hundred more compartments to reduce the overcapacity).
However, this whole discussion is nowhere near relevant to the actual situation of the MRT now. What Poe is proposing has no purpose at this stage in the discussion. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the idea could work, but the soonest it could be considered is in 2021, when the train line’s rehabilitation is completed.
The MRT is running at below optimal level. The streets are bumper to bumper. Grab is a monopoly that no one can fight against. Angkas is a saving grace that may change anytime since it also has no competition.
The Philippines is bleeding money as people have to spend half the workday just getting out of the house.
All this and Grace Poe doesn’t want the President to have emergency powers. But sure, let’s think about her business class.