I’ll start by getting this sentiment out of the way: the current Mass Transit Line 3 in EDSA sucks.
And it’s not just because of the technical problems it all too often suffers from. From an aesthetic, design, and capability standpoint, the current Line 3 just sucks so bad. Consider the following issues of the system right now.
First, the trains used are light rail in nature and its width is too narrow to accommodate the many passengers this line needs. And light is definitely not what a major and congested thoroughfare as EDSA needs, no?
Second, some of the stations are designed poorly, from the concourse and platform on the same level (it shouldn’t be because of possible congestion and that it is inconvenient to passengers who have to go to the opposite side of the thoroughfare) to the narrow walkways, elevators, and escalators. Especially so in Ayala Station where some parts of the platform narrows to a point that it’s hard to go across. Let’s not even get started to the structures which are the stations themselves which has made our narrow sidewalks even more narrow.
Third, the trains only consist of 3 short carriages which is not enough to satisfy the number of passengers plying the line. Which is weird considering that the stations themselves are designed to accommodate up to 4 short carriages. Or better yet, why not make use of one long carriage for the train?
And fourth, the current length of the line is not optimized to address the needs of those traveling along the whole of EDSA, like those whose destinations are beyond Taft Avenue, where no mass transit option is currently available. Now some of you might ask, what about the loop that is to connect Line 3 to Line 1.
Sadly, this leaves out those whose destinations are beyond Monumento, which are high density places as well.
Right now, the feeling is neutral about the plans to fix Line 3. For one, it only solves to address the technical issues and not the longstanding issues that were just enumerated. Besides, with so many problems this line has had since it was constructed, maybe it is time to put it out of its misery. For good.
As the Urban Roamer sees it, for the mass transit line in EDSA to fully work, it has to be redesigned from the ground up. So yeah, this would mean dismantling the current system and start from scratch and learn from its flaws and follow the best practices of how Line 2 was built (which IMO is the most effectively designed mass transit line right now in Metro Manila) and, hopefully, of the planned Mega Manila subway. With that said, the Urban Roamer presents to you its proposed New EDSA Mass Transit Line.
First thing you will notice is that this proposed New EDSA Mass Transit Line covers almost the entire stretch of EDSA-Circumferential Road 4, from Navotas to Pasay, as it is supposed to be. After all, it is one of the most prominent thoroughfares, not to mention serving as the metropolis’ backbone that not only connects the entire metropolis and not just cities it passes through.
Being the metropolis’ backbone, it is important that its stations are strategically located to serve commuters living in different parts of the metropolis. As such, the proposed new EDSA Mass Transit Line shall have the following stations from north to south:
- Navotas Boulevard – to be located somewhere near the Navotas bus terminal and M. Naval Street.
- Dagat-Dagatan – to be located somewhere near Dagat-Dagatan Avenue and Malabon Citisquare Mall.
- Sangandaan – to be located somewhere near the planned Caloocan Station of the PNR Manila-Clark railway and SM Center Sangandaan.
- Bagong Barrio – to be located near the intersection of EDSA and General Malvar Street, Bagong Barrio in Caloocan. It must be noted that the present Line 1 North Extension had provisions for a station to be built in the same area due to the pressure of the Caloocan City government at the time. But that station has yet to be built.
- Kaingin Road – to be located near the intersection of EDSA and Kaingin Road, Brgy. Balintawak in Quezon City.
- North Grand Central – it will be the same North Grand Central Station that is set to be constructed soon. More on that later.
- Quezon Avenue – to be located along the EDSA-Quezon Avenue interchange, a few meters away from the existing Quezon Avenue station.
- South Diliman – to be located between the EDSA-Timog-East Avenue interchange and Kamuning-Kamias interchange, a few meters away from the existing “GMA-Kamuning” station (which is deceitful anyway)
- Cubao – to be located along the EDSA-Aurora Boulevard interchange a few meters away from the original Cubao station. Now people don’t have to bother going through those Araneta malls anymore to get to Line 2 and back and be bothered by having to walk longer distances when the malls are closed.
- Boni Serrano – to be located along the EDSA-Boni Serrano Avenue interchange. It will be one of the two stations that will replace the existing Santolan-Annapolis station, with this station serving commuters near Camps Crame and Aguinaldo and nearby areas.
- Greenhills East – to be located near the intersection of EDSA and Connecticut Street. It will be one of the two stations that will replace the existing Santolan-Annapolis station, with this station serving commuters in the Greenhills area.
- Ortigas Avenue – to be located along the EDSA-Ortigas Avenue interchange. This will replace the existing Ortigas Avenue station that’s located far off from Ortigas Avenue itself.
- Shaw Boulevard – to be located on the site of the current Shaw Boulevard station, only underground. More on that later.
- Boni-Pioneer – to be located near the EDSA-Boni Avenue-Pioneer interchange. It can be built either on the same site as or a few meters away from the existing Boni Avenue station.
- Guadalupe – to be located on the site of the current Guadalupe station, only underground. More on that later.
- Rockwell-Kalayaan – to be located somewhere between Estrella and Kalayaan Avenue intersections.
- Bel-Air – to be located on the site of the existing Buendia station, only totally underground, including the concourse. More on that later.
- Ayala Center – to be located on the site of the existing Ayala station, only totally underground, including the concourse. More on that later.
- Osmeña Highway – to be located on the EDSA-Osmeña Highway interchange, a few meters away from the existing Magallanes station (which by itself is a misnomer anyway).
- Taft Avenue – to be located on the site of the existing Taft Avenue station, only underground. More on that later.
- Roxas Boulevard – to be located along the EDSA-Roxas Boulevard interchange.
- Mall of Asia – to be located at the edge of EDSA near the globe rotunda.
Now you might notice that there are no stations allotted for Roosevelt, Balintawak, and Monumento. That is because these stations will continue to be served by Line 1. So there is no conflict as to which stations serve which areas of north Metro Manila and instead they complement each other as can be seen below.
The stations shall employ the same design as with the station of Line 2 in which the platform and the concourse levels are separate. There shall be wide and functioning escalators and elevators, not to mention the stairs being wide as well.
Now let’s talk about the line itself. As mentioned before, the line will be mostly underground, with only the portions of the line from Navotas to near Sangandaan as elevated due to that area being very prone to flooding. The tracks to be used will no longer be light rail but heavy rail just as with Line 2 while the train cars to be used should be long, wide, and a continuous body.
Of course, this is all just wishful and crazy thinking. Still, the Urban Roamer is sincerely reaching to any policymaker and project funder out there to at least consider seriously this proposal. Line 3 as it is right now is broken. And if we are going to fix it, considering how long and painful it has been, it is time to start over, begin anew and do things right this time.
The problem with the MRT is that it isn’t supported by a proper short distance transit system at street level that has lane priority. Trying to rebuild it now would be a disaster unless something is put in place first to take up that capacity. At the moment it moves the same number of passengers as all the lanes of vehicles below it combined – somewhere in the order of 13000 per hour each way. In perspective, one MRT train has the same number of passengers on it as every car on 5 lanes of traffic over a 1km distance. Like all metro systems, it isn’t designed to cater for short trips – ie. less than 5km so isn’t optimal speed for that journey length. In the absence of a proper supporting system it will always be overcrowded. If you boosted the capacity to a theoretical MRT maximum, all of the supporting structures such as platforms and escalators also need to be enlarged. With this kind of system trying to carry passenger volumes alone, it can never be made big enough.
The solution to the problem lies at street level. A streetcar has a lane capacity of about 12000 passengers per hour, compared to mixed traffic of well under per hour when its actually moving. In practice, a regular streetcar line can carry the same number of passengers 6 lanes of cars, while the construction cost of street level tracks is 1/10 of elevated or subway tracks, is much faster to complete, and is cheaper to operate because there are no station platforms required, and fewer bottlenecks formed because stations are more closely spaced. Long term, maintenance of steel tracks is also lower than roads. For the size of metro Manila, the optimal solution would be to re-introduce a modernized trenvia system.