The Guide To Mass Rail Transit Names

Over the years of the Urban Roamer, I’ve come to realize that there are things pertaining to urban life, the ins and outs, the ways things go here n the Manila metropolitan landscape that many are unaware of. Thus, I have decided to set up another semi-regular feature on this site which I call “The Guide.” Think of it as a handy reference  of sorts of what you need to know about how the city works when it comes to some aspects of its urban landscape, all its quirks included. The first I am going to tackle here in “The Guide” is a subject close to and has long been a source of annoyance for me at least.

There seems to be so much confusion and wrong going on with how Metro Manila’s 3 mass rail transit lines are named. It is something that has been bugging me for a while. Granted some may see this as petty, allow me to elaborate on this post.

the current Metro Manila mass rail transit system (courtesy of Urbanrail)

First things first, we must learn the type of mass rail transit systems available in the metropolis today. The first is the “light rail system,” which is designed to handle a limited number of passengers. From the name given, we can assume that the trains operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) are light rail systems. Well, the answer is…not really. 

The LRTA-operated Line 1, (known to many as LRT-1) the one that runs from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in Parañaque, ia a true light-rail system. But Line 2 which runs from Santolan in Pasig to Recto near Rizal Avenue in Manila is actually what is called a “heavy rail system,” designed to handle more passengers thanks to the wider bodies of such trains. Thus it is not entirely accurate to say (as others do) that Line 2 is LRT-2 except perhaps when pointing out that Line 2 is operated by the LRTA . Which brings up another point of how an agency called the Light Rail Transit Authority is such a misnomer now since it no longer operates just light rail systems these days.

Line 1 (courtesy of Skyscrapercity)

Line 2 (courtesy of Rizzandeecher)

And what about the Line 3 rail system along EDSA from North to Taft Avenues operated by the Metro Rail Ttransit Corporation (MRT) known as the MRT-3. There is no dispute that this line is a metro line. Actually the two lines of the LRTA are considered metro lines as well. It could also be argued that like in the case of the LRTA lines, Line 3 just follows the name of the company operating it.

Line 3 (courtesy of Rappler from an AFP file photo)

But if we are going to be technical about the system itself, Line 3 is actually a light rail system. This explains why these Line 3 trains today cannot handle the daily volume of passengers and that it was considered to have the Line 1 trains be used for Line 3. While there are plans to buy new trains for Line 3, they will be limited by the present system so the new trains will still be light rail ones.

So if we are going to think about this further, it can be said that Line 3 is more of an LRT-3 and and Line 2 can be called MRT-2. But as far as the Urban Roamer is concerned, these acronyms can be very confusing, Thus the Urban Roamer has taken the initiative which I hope would be followed by others of setting up a new system of naming these mass rail transit lines, akin to what is done in some cities:

– the mass rail transit line from Roosevelt to Baclaran shall be named “Line 1

– the mass rail transit line from Santolan, Pasig to Recto shall be named “Line 2

– the mass rail transit line from North Avenue to Taft Avenue shall be named “Line 3″

Throughout this site and in future entries, the mass rail transit lines of Metro Manila shall be known as such. Any new lines will  be built will follow the same style, i.e. the planned Line 7 from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to North Avenue.

I hope this guide helped you learn something new today. Till the next guide from the Urban Roamer!

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