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MRT3 free rides extended until May 30 —DOTr

The Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced the extension for another month of the offer of free rides on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

In an advisory, the DOTr said passengers will be able to continue enjoying free rides at the rehabilitated MRT3 line until May 30, 2022, anytime during the line’s operating hours from 4:40 a.m. to 10:10 p.m.

The free rides were initially implemented from March 28 to April 30 to celebrate the completion of the MRT3’s rehabilitation and also ease the financial burden of the commuting public amid rising fuel prices and many workers who are returning to on-site duties.

“To continue providing assistance to the riding public in their commuting needs, the MRT3 Management and the DOTr have decided to extend for another month the implementation of the FREE RIDE or ‘LIBRENG SAKAY’ program in MRT3,” the Transportation department said.

The agency noted that a total of 7,227,434 passengers as of April 26, 2022 have benefitted from the MRT3 free ride program.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the extension of the free ride program hopes to continue to ease the financial burden of commuters amid inflation and rising fuel prices, especially with more workers returning to on-site work.

"Gumanda at nagbago ang ridership ng MRT3. Bago mag-pandemya, 260,000. At bagama’t may pandemya, ‘yung ridership ay umaabot sa 280,000. At ngayon, nasa 300,000 na ang naisasakay ng MRT3 at naihahatid nang ligtas, kumportable, at walang aberya. Napapanahon na i-extend pa natin ang LIBRENG SAKAY sa MRT3 upang mas maraming Pilipino ang makinabang,” said Tugade.

According to MRT3 OIC-General Manager and Director for Operations Michael Capati, the increasing ridership of MRT3 can be attributed to the implementation of the free ride program and the return of many to on-site work has also allowed the rail line to further test its capacity and performance following the completion of its massive rehabilitation.

“We saw a definite increase in our ridership when we implemented the free ride n MRT3. So it was also productive on our part because we were able to test the capacity and performance of our fully rehabilitated railway system,” said Capati.

MRT3 recorded an average weekday ridership of 306,986 from 28 March to 26 April 2022, a 26.95% increase from the average weekday ridership of 241,800 from March 1 to March 27, 2022 prior to the implementation of the free ride program, according to the DOTr.

The highest single-day ridership was recorded on April 8, 2022 when 335,993 passengers took the MRT3, a 19.4% increase from the record-high 258,989 ridership logged on March 25 before the free ride program, it added.

The MRT3 records an average weekday ridership of 250,000 to 300,000 prior to the pandemic

Capati added the extension of the free ride program will further allow the MRT3 to test its capacity in accommodating up to or more than 350,000 passengers daily.

To augment the rail line’s capacity, the MRT3 Management will also continue deploying four-car CKD train sets on the revenue line during peak hours, the DOTr said.

A four-car train set can accommodate up to 1,576 passengers.

The MRT-3 Management and its maintenance provider, Sumitomo-MHI-TESP, completed the rehabilitation of the rail line last December 2021.

Following its rehabilitation, the MRT3 now operates at the speed of up to 60 kilometers per hour (kph) from the previous 25 kph.

The number of trains have also increased from as few as 15, now up to 23 operational trains. Meanwhile, the headway or the waiting time between trains has been reduced from around 10 minutes to as low as 3.5 minutes.

Under the MRT-3 rehabilitation project, the entire stretch of the line's mainline tracks was replaced and rehabilitated. Also upgraded were the line's power supply, overhead catenary system, rolling stock, communications and signaling system, stations, as well as depot facilities and equipment. —LBG, GMA News