RILES Network slams MRT ‘crowd control scheme’ as prelude to fare hike

MANILA — A network opposing fare hikes in the MRT and LRT train systems strongly criticized today the management of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) for implementing a crowd control scheme in the train’s busiest stations yesterday. The group said the scheme only worsens the plight of passengers and hardly addresses the root of the problem.

The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network said the LRT Administration’s crowd control scheme, first implemented yesterday morning, allowed only 100 passengers inside train stations. This forced passengers to stay in line that spilled out onto the streets near the stations. They were exposed to the heat or rain while waiting for their turn to be allowed into the station.

“The crowd control scheme and the MRT’s operation during rush hours run counter to the LRTA’s mission and vision. The LRTA should be providing the public with a transport system that is both efficient and safe,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson. Malunes is also the former union president of workers of the Light Rail Transit. He and his coworkers had been summarily laid off under the Estrada administration following a strike against the privatization of the LRT, among other issues. They have a pending case in court.

The RILES network blames the MRT’s maintenance, currently outsourced to the private sector, for the delays in arrival and departure of trains. It said the private contractor is merely wasting the people’s money with the kind of service it is providing the LRTA.

“The contract with the private sector for the train system’s maintenance should be terminated immediately. The government through the LRTA should be directly responsible for providing the riding public with safe and efficient transport service,” Malunes said.

The RILES Network said more students would be late for school and workers would be late for work in the coming days and weeks unless the government takes back the train system’s maintenance from the private sector and takes full responsibility for the operations.

“I fell in line and saw the mayhem organized by the LRTA myself. People were really surprised and angered by the crowd control scheme. Many were hurling invectives at the MRT management,” said Malunes.”

“The MRT’s case shows that the private sector is not always best. It seems that the MRT’s private contractor is trying to create a situation in which passengers would accede to a fare hike and the train system’s privatization,” he added.

The network also said the late arrival and departure of trains affect the focus and productivity of students and workers riding the MRT. It called on MRT passengers who are on social networking sites to express their anger over the scheme, even as the network prepares protest actions against the government’s plan to increase fares and privatize the MRT’s operations. ()

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