Manila metro to issue notes to commuters late for work

MANILA - The Philippine capital's decrepit train network will start issuing certificates of delay to tens of thousands who are late for work because of daily breakdowns, the government said yesterday.

With only seven trains for half a million passengers, Manila's Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is a commuter's nightmare. Creaking locomotives stop mid-track increasingly frequently.

"This is a transparency measure. People deserve to know what problems occurred, anything that could cause a stoppage, from a broken rail to air-conditioning that stopped working," Transportation Department spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal told Agence France-Presse.

The "incident report", however, will certify only the cause of the delay and will not be worded as a letter of excuse for tardiness, he said. "It's up to the requesting individual how to use it," he added.

Commuters walking on overhead rail tracks several storeys high beside stalled trains have become a common sight in the city of 12 million people.

The decaying MRT is also dangerous. Last August, dozens were injured after a train overshot its track and rammed into a busy highway.

A multibillion-dollar infrastructure overhaul plan by President Benigno Aquino has moved painfully slowly and only one year remains before he steps down next June.

When it opened in the late 1990s, the MRT had 20 running trains, each with three cabs, but years of neglect, aggravated by wrangling between the government and its private partner, have reduced the number of trains to seven.

Regular MRT riders are not impressed with the new plans. Instead of issuing late notes, the government should just focus on repairing the train line, said Ms Francin Cruz, a 25-year-old advertising art director.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2015, with the headline 'Manila metro to issue notes to commuters late for work'. Print Edition | Subscribe