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The People Deserve Better

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Submitted By stevencatanes
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The Manila railway system is one of the important means of travel in a Manilenyo’s everyday life. The Metro Railway Transit serves some 684,000 people every day, and the Light Rail Transit serves about 579,000 people every day according to the Department of Transport and Communications. The government therefore has to consider the lives of over one million commuters in the operation, and maintenance of the railway systems in Manila. The government is running the railway systems well as they are now, but is it enough? Singapore also has its own railway system and is very systematic and organized in managing the railways. We can learn a lot from them and apply what we learn to improve the safety and experience of the daily commuters of the bustling Manila. Railway transport plays a great role in the lives of busy on the go people. It serves as a detour to avoid traffic jams during peak hours of the day, allowing commuters to pass above or under the dense traffic on the main roads. Manila railways consist of the Metropolitan railway Transit and the Light Railway Transit. These modes of transport serve as one of the most cost and time efficient ways of transportation of everyday commuters. Since Manila has become filled to the brim throughout the years, people rely a lot on the railways, especially students and the working population who have to travel quite a distance every day and try their best to avoid being late and in the evening try to get home in time for dinner. The city is becoming quite expensive to live in, as a result the diversity of passengers using the railways can range from those of a lower working class to even those who have high positions in companies. The stations have two levels, the concourse level and the platform level. The concourse level consists of stairs, elevators, and escalators leading to the platform level. Also found on the concourse levels are the ticket booths and toilets. Fare gates separate the two levels from each other. Manila’s stations are conveniently placed mostly above ground with exemptions such as Katipunan station which is underground. Some are connected to malls and nearby buildings such as the Araneta Center – Cubao terminal, making it less a hassle to go shopping, others also close to schools and business centres. Singapore’s MRT is also either elevated or underground. Due to their unforgivable experience during World War II, Singaporeans have been making sure that their country is ready for another war despite the fact that Singapore is a very small country. An example of them making the best of what they can with the limited land area is that most of their underground stations are deep and hardened to withstand areal bomb attacks and they also serve as bomb shelters in times of need. Terminals are equally spread out from the commercial and business hearts of Singapore, to areas near tourist spots and residential areas. A station is also located in Chiangi Airport, which once fully relied on taxi and buss connections before it was built in 2002. Security checks passengers for prohibited items such as firearms and sharp objects when they enter the MRT. Passengers will also see CCTV’s (Closed Circuit Cameras) positioned all over the stations to monitor the different situations going on in the different levels of the station. Ticketing in Manila is mainly by ticket booths and on some lines by ticketing machines. Before 2001, tokens were purchased to enter a station. But on September 9, 2001, the ticket-based system was achieved. There are two main types of tickets, the single journey ticket and the stored value ticket. The single journey ticket is for a one way trip and is surrendered upon exiting the station. The cost of a “one-way” ticket would be from twelve to fifteen pesos on the LRT and eleven to fifteen pesos depending on the distance that a passenger would travel. The stored value ticket on the other hand can be used multiple times and can be kept. One stored value ticket costs a hundred pesos and has an equivalent value that can be used until it is “maxed out” by the passenger. Once the card is used up, the passenger will have to buy another. Singapore’s stations are slightly the opposite. Tickets are purchased mainly by GMT’s (General Ticketing Machines) which make buying a ticket faster. The implementation of multiple GMT’s in stations breaks down the long lines like those we have into shorter multiple lines. There are also Passenger Service Centres and Ticket offices that assist passengers. There are two types of cards in Singapore, EZ-Link and NETS Flash Play. Both of them have the same rates. A regular single trip ticket would cost between two to four Singaporean dollars (Php70 to Php140), inclusive of a one dollar deposit for the card. You don’t have to buy another ticket if you are changing lines at a certain terminal. There are also “stored value type” tickets that are being sold. These tickets cost twelve dollars (Php420), inclusive of a five dollar deposit and a seven dollar credit. The difference with our stored value card is when the passenger has used all of his credits, he may purchase additional credits one the same card. The stored value cards can also be used for paying other public transportation fees, and can also be used to purchase certain goods and services from dealers who have the EZ-Link logo. The cards can be topped up in many ways, thus removing the need to top up in a certain area. Once passengers have their tickets, they now make their way to the platform. The saying “packed like sardines” is one way to describe taking the Manila MRT during rush hour. Once the train arrives, passengers try to position themselves a hair’s length from the train doors in order to secure a spot in the coming train. This is really hazardous since at any time a passenger might get his footing wrong, causing him to fall onto the tracks. Once the train arrives, everyone starts pushing their way into the train, which is already packed. Even if a passenger is not as aggressive as the others, he can’t turn back anymore. Once the crowd starts pushing in, a passenger can get pull along by the crowd. And before he knows it, he’s packed in the moving tin can along with hundreds of other passengers. Many times, the passengers who are not able to board make sure that the doors close. They push the “riding” passengers in and even have to force the door close sometimes. For the benefit and safety of women, children, elderly, and the disabled, they are given priority to the first trams in front. One problem that “riding” passengers have to meet is to count the stations the train stops at themselves since announcements in the MRT are many times unclear. The LRT Manila has on the other hand is not as jam-packed as the MRT of Manila. It also has its announcements broadcasted by a computer, making it easier for passengers to hear and understand the broadcasts. The LRT has station guides located above the train doors making new passengers feel at ease. Another problem that “riding” passengers encounter in the MRT on rush hours is alighting. The volume of people already inside the train makes it very difficult to get out of the train, even more so that passengers who board the train don’t always give way.
Singapore platforms have taken measures to prevent these kinds of complications. First of all, they repeatedly announce safety reminders to passengers who are waiting for trains. To prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks, they have installed platform doors. These doors close out the passengers from the track and open only when a train has arrived. One thing passengers will always mind is the loading and alighting guide that is illustrated before every platform door. Unlike the “system” of alighting we have, Singaporeans see to it that alighting passengers have priority of exiting first through the doors. Once the passengers have alighted, the loading passengers move in from the sides toward doors. Just like Manila’s LRT, announcements are broadcasted by computers. Station guides are also found in the train, some even show where the train is coming to next. Since the interval of trains is slightly shorter that those of Manila, passengers don’t turn into sardines. Many passengers don’t take just one line but also have to move to another one. Though the interchanges we have are relatively closer to one another, passengers sometimes have to brave to weather. This is a problem passengers of the Singapore Railway Transit don’t encounter as much since interchanging lines are in the same station. Despite Manila’s railways to be proving effective, it still has a long way to go. There are still improvements that can be made for the benefit of the passengers. One thing we passengers can do is hope for the best that the government will have the intuition and willpower to improve public transportation even more.…...

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