The Light Rail Manila Corporation’s (LRMC) LRT Line 1 or LRT-1 has been a part of every Manileños life since its opening 37 years ago in December 1, 1984. This has been one of the first economic advancement we had as Filipinos when the late president Ferdinand Marcos created the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) in July 1980 and construction of the line began a year after that. The LRT Line 1 became the first rapid transit service in Southeast Asia and it was ahead of its time making transportation easier for the public, with the transport fee being very affordable, the LRT-1 made it also easier for the traffic to be less congested as well as fast moving. With the ongoing crisis the world is experiencing and together with the easing alert levels in the country, our economy seeks to make the most of what it lost due to the pandemic, and now being hit by the effects of the war between Russia and Ukraine. This is the reason why the government launched the program to build infrastructures in our cities that will make our economy a lot stronger than the neighboring countries. It has been cited before that the lack of infrastructures has been the Achilles’ heel of the Philippines. One of the solutions to this is the extension of the line called LRT-1 Cavite extension adding stations that will connect Cavite to Manila and make transportation a lot easier for the citizens of Cavite, Parañaque, and Las Piñas.
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The two billion (Php 2B) peso project that spanned from Monumento, Caloocan in the north to Baclaran, Pasay in the south made it easier for employees and business owners at the time to come and go from locations in Manila and now, to Cavite and some parts of Parañaque and Las Piñas, adding eight (8) stations. This line has a total of twenty (20) stations but in 2022, only a total of nineteen (19) are operational today due to the last station in Malvar to be delayed in construction and to be ultimately discontinued in the Aquino administration. The LRT-1 Cavite extension will add a total of 11.7 Kilometers passing through Paranaque, from the Manila International Airport to Dr. A. Santos Avenue, and Las Piñas to Niog in Bacoor, Cavite. Thousands of people’s lives will be changed because of this project since most of the employees working in Manila and Makati are coming from the south. The long hours of waiting for busses and jeepneys going to Baclaran and EDSA will be much shorter now since this project seeks to decongest the traffic in Aguinaldo Highway, Dr. A. Santos Avenue, Coastal Highway, and also Roxas Boulevard.
Traffic Situation in Cavite-Pasay Highways
It is no question that a lot of the employees who work in Pasay are coming from Cavite, Parañaque and Las Piñas. For so long since the opening of the Coastal Highway and its improvements, it has been part of the daily lives of citizens of Cavite, Parañaque, and Las Piñas to take the bus or van going to Taft, Makati, and the bay area of Pasay. This commute time started to be as short as 15-20 minutes making the commute time a breeze. But, before the pandemic started, it has been one of the most dreaded experiences of a lot of commuters to pass through Coastal highway and parts of Roxas boulevard, and Dr. A. Santos avenue especially at rush hour because they know that they will be staying inside the tight seating (or standing) area of a bus or the packed seating situation of commuter vans. Now that the alert level in Metro Manila is down at 1, traffic began to be congested again. Even when you have your own car, not spending time waiting for the bus to arrive, or the van to get its full capacity of passengers, travel time still exceeds 1.5 hours. This is very tiring considering the distance from Bacoor, Cavite, to Pasay is only around 24 kilometers. This distance, even when you are only travelling at 60 kilometers per hour at max speed, will only take 20 minutes at most. So, imagine yourself being so tired from work trying to complete the hours required before going home but you know, the hardest part of your day has yet to come. It’s not only that, going to work looks also like this in the morning. Fighting other commuters for a ride on the bus is one of the more common scenes that you would see in the streets along Aguinaldo highway. The morning rush where you should make sure your outfit or office uniform should be nice and tidy is expected to be worn out and dirty because of this situation. It is now part of a daily commuter’s routine to wear comfy shoes and bring additional clothes specially allotted for the commute time. You can also expect that being in transit for this long will make you thirsty or hungry, but most of the time, irritated. But, since there are no other alternatives to going to the Pasay area, where there are a lot of job offerings from the different companies building their structures in the bay area, the citizens of Cavite, Parañaque, and Las Piñas doesn’t have a choice but to fight their way through traffic.
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LRT-1 Cavite Extension, 68% Completed
When it was first announced and approved in November 2013, a lot of people became hopeful about the commuting situation and also, companies and small business owners became motivated to invest in the real estate area along where the project is set to be constructed. And now that we are down to the last 32% of construction, we are seeing something good that will happen and somehow help us in our daily commuting lives. This project expects to cut the travel time of around 70 minutes down to only 25 minutes for its passengers coming from and to Cavite, Parañaque, and parts of Las Piñas.
The Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC), the private operator of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) announced that the project is now 68% completed in February 07, 2022. This has been what can be considered as a fast moving project since it uses a technology called ‘Full Span Girder Launching’ where in the girder, a part of the railway where the train sits, is placed by special machines making it faster and much safer for the public since the material needs not to be transported on roads anymore. With the utilization of this technology, even when the pandemic happened and halted construction of almost every project in the country, the project is still expected to start its partial operation by the start of the year 2024. The stations expected for the LRT-1 Cavite extension will be a total of eight connecting the last station in Baclaran to extend up to Barangay Niog, Bacoor, Cavite. These stations will be located at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Manila International Airport, Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Dr. A. Santos Avenue, Zapote, and Barangay Niog in Bacoor, Cavite. LRMC is also planning to have a more convenient payment system that is being applied to much of our transportation nowadays, much like the beep card used in the MRT line as well as the BGC busses.
What to Expect and What to Prepare?
As part of the daily life of a commuter in places where the railway system is not available, being prepared to walk long stretches of transportation stations and spending time waiting for vehicles is one of the parts of our already difficult daily routine. How will we be able to adjust to this change and what will the transportation look like when the construction works are being done in the roads where we travel? Will this project add more time to the already exhausting, and long travel hours we have as commuters? It is expected that in the construction of this elevated railway system, we will also have adjustments where roads will be a little tighter. This is already experienced in Dr. A Santos avenue and will be experienced in the places where the railway will be going through. Some parts of Parañaque and its roads are already being congested because of this. But, you need not worry, as part of the saying goes, the night is the darkest before dawn.
Make Work Schedule Preparations
It will be beneficial for us to plan your work schedule (if we have an option to do so) when the construction starts in your area making the traffic becomes crowded and full of motorists. For most of us, the 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM work cycle is what’s normal and part of our weekly routine. It is also what the most of the working employee has to stick to but if you are an employee who has options for working hours, it might be best to avoid the hours where you would most likely end up having to commute within the rush hours of the city. You will also have to consider the time when you are going out of the office, if it will be in the hours where everyone gets off work and in traffic or in the hours before or after that. If you also have options where you can choose ‘work from home’ days, you can choose the days where traffic is the worse in your area. For some, it normally begins on the mornings of Monday and even extended until Wednesday. There are also places where the traffic status is different depending on the work day. If your company will provide an option to work from your house, then choose the days when the traffic is overcrowded to also help your community ease on the number of commuters.
Consider Your Personal Plans for Transportation
There are a lot of individuals who plans to buy their own car due to the rising traffic issues together with the scare of the pandemic and being close to strangers while commuting. If you are planning to make changes in the plans you and your family has, consider the change in transportation setting in the places where the LRT-1 Cavite extension is going to be. You can hold off the big plans if you think that this change will also be beneficial for you and your community since this extension will serve thousands of commuters, and this will be available to everyone in just about 2 years. With the rising oil prices nowadays, even if we want to drive our own car to go to and from the office, we are held hostage by the fact that the expense of doing this is still too expensive for the typical working employee. You can also find alternatives for the usual mode of transportation while you are waiting for the LRT-1 Cavite extension by checking your social media sites or group of friends or co-workers who lives around the same area as you do. If there are people you know who can or wants to carpool with you, it’s best to take this chance and set up an arrangement that works for everyone. By doing this, you will also help your local community to decongest traffic by having one car instead of two. Carpooling is one of the most popular ideas now that will also help everyone to save by sharing the miles covered by one vehicle. This idea will also help the environment by having less contribution in carbon footprint. Now that the cities in Metro Manila is also allowing provincial busses to travel, the traffic situation will be more and more like what it used to be before the pandemic started.
We are now closer and closer to having this great economic advancement and we all know that these types of structures, like the LRT-1 Cavite extension, will help all the cities it passes through to be more economically rich as well, making all the near establishments more accessible to the public and will add foot traffic to those locations. In conclusion, this project, once operational, will add more value to our personal and professional lives as well as the places it will give access to, making our cities connected and much closer (in travel time) to each other.
Written by Gene Llanes