Manila’s Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) stations: Disasters waiting to happen?

It seems MRT-3 stations are becoming potential death traps as dangerous crowd control practices are now being used to “manage” the increasing volumes of passengers using the line. As seen in the following photo, passengers are made to queue on stairs leading to the train platforms packed like sardines.


The photo was posted by a certain Donna Miranda on the DOTC-MRT3 Facebook page

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As you can see commuters waiting to board the arriving train on EDSA-Taft Station have barely any space to breathe or move while the platform remains wide open. As your passenger, as someone patronising your services for the last 12 years I think I deserve to be heard if not acknowledge or at the minimum be treated with the right kind of respect any customer deserves. As I have pointed out in my previous post that you had taken down, this is unsafe. Consider the possibility of any of these commuters having heart attack, hypertension, or simply being squished by raging crowd, how shall we attend to them when there is barely any space to move. Also consider the possibility of children being squished and pregnant women who may go into premature labor because of all the pushing.

Another photo, exhibited on Miranda’s profile provides a clearer picture of how passengers are restrained from making their way onto the platforms before the trains arrive.


Miranda later posts another photo on her personal profile showing further passenger grief as the “social experiment”, this time at Ayala Station, progresses.


As expected, today has gotten far worse. The cordoned area are for where male passengers need to ‘line up’ that is squeeze themselves into. Meanwhile women passengers are allowed to pass thru the ropes only to be greeted by another round of bottleneck congestion (as in the photo from the other day). 3rd day of MRT3 new social experiment. Also the train we rode around 6:30pm was defective so we were offloaded to join the other crowd of already frustrated commuters at Ayala Station.

The Manila Metro Rail Transit System Line 3 (MRT-3) is Metro Manila’s third rapid transit line. It forms part of the regional passenger rail system, which includes the Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 1, Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2 and the Philippine National Railways commuter line. The line operates under the name Metrostar Express, and is colored blue (old) and yellow (new) on rail maps. The line is located along the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), one of Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares. It has thirteen stations along its 16.95 km track which passes through the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay and Quezon City. While originally intended to decongest EDSA, the MRT-3 has been only partially successful in decongesting EDSA, and congestion is further aggravated by the rising number of motor vehicles. The expansion of the system to cover the entire stretch of EDSA is expected to contribute to current attempts to decongest the thoroughfare and to cut travel times.

Opened in 1999, the MRT-3 is operated by the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private company operating in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement. Although it has characteristics of light rail, such as the type of rolling stock used, it is more akin to a rapid transit system.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content. Facebook pages and profiles from which photos in this article were sourced were publicly accessible at the time of their publication here.]

27 Replies to “Manila’s Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) stations: Disasters waiting to happen?”

  1. The Leaders have no short-term, or long-term plans in our transportation system. They simply sit on their asses, and collected their good pay; at our expense.
    Did they ever learn an “honest day” work?

  2. A disaster waiting to happen? How ’bout a disaster in motion practice and everyday occurrence?
    What a mess.
    This is an example of what keeps foreigners(businessmen/tourists et al) staying away from the entire city, have an experience like the ones pictured and who would be insane enough to ever come back for more of the same or worse?
    Again, what a mess.

  3. Actually, Metro Manila seems to be the real problem. The metro, with 16 municipalities the last time I checked, is a political mess. They never seem to be able to work together, and consequently, believe it or not, they make the rest of the country look inept. Their respective administrations never give us the impression that they want the metro to be a more citizen-friendly place. Isn’t that just bad politics? Screw them.

  4. Cant’t blame MRT 3 management. That is how you handle undisciplined pinoys. Leave them be on their own accord and they will mess things up. They need to be restrained in some way. The restrictive nature of the MRT3 management with the passengers is representative of how to get pinoys to move the Philippines forward, like a herd of sheep. Most importantly put a good shepherd to move the herd and not an imbecile.

    1. I agree with this. People are going to find ways to jump the queue, if they can get away with it.

      It’s just horse shit that they didn’t invest in getting more trains all this time.

      1. you can only pack so many trains on the line. do you think you can pack 50 trains on that single line all at the same time? even half that number at the same time is a bigger disaster waiting to happen. train collision anyone? sheesh!

    2. I’m surprised they actually had something like that. I was wondering what the ropes were for when I arrived at Taft Avenue Station earlier.

      No such thing as a queue here in the Philippines. Even if you get there first, you’ll probably end up last if you don’t force yourself to the front.

      1. kahit naman nasa baba mga tao eh. pag pinag isipan mong maigi, kahit saang enclosed space naman eh ganun din pag may stampede.

  5. I dont think MRT stations are designed for massive volume of passengers.Buying more trains and extending the operating hours will probably lessen the burden of its passengers. But of course they should raise the fare. Since majority of its users are working, i dont see anything wrong with MRT raising its fare.

    1. additional trains? probably not. like i said in an earlier post – you can only put so many trains in one line. the more trains you put in, the higher the chance for collision.

      longer operational hours – yes.

    1. Thankfully, our company allows us to come to work from 11 AM to 9 PM, at least I won’t face hour long traffic.

      Of course, I’ll rather come 8 AM and leave 5 PM to be with my family, yet the current traffice situation does not allow it 🙁

  6. It’s been a while since I have seen an NHL game up close and personal but last time I rode the MRT during rush hour I got more than my fill of cross checking, boarding, high sticking, elbowing and third man in. I can guarantee you that John Kordic, Tim Hunter, Bob Probert, Dale Hunter and Richard Zemlak are more cordial than your typical MRT commuter.

  7. I think the problem is first that metro manila should have a governor and not just MMDA. This would make a person that has mandate of the people who can overstep the mayors power to make overall planning.

    Next is they should make the position of official longer. I know because the position last only 3 years. They make shortsighted project that will only be beneficial to them for the next re election. Since you cannot change the thinking of politician.

    I know the longer term was the argument of Gloria before. But there are some sense to it. Now Noynoy wants to hasten all project even the skyway to end before his term with the belief that if the next president would take the glory from him.

  8. Considering that stairs are primarily designed for movement (and thus structurally designed for MOVING LOADS) we can only wonder if that stairway is already being pushed to its limits. Yes, one specific scenario of a disaster waiting to happen.

  9. Disasters that may happen if this would continue, will be a riot, stampede, and the most likely will be a derailing of the trains.

    I’m from the Northern province and recently I went to the Metro, particularly in Ortigas to report to our Main Office. It took me 3 hours from Balintawak Toll plaza to Ortigas. Because the Bus is dodging pedestrians. And as we past stations of MRT, there is more than a kilometer long of passengers in Line.

  10. Limiting the number of people on the platform ensures that the train won’t get clogged up to full capacity right out of the first station on the line. It leaves space for the people waiting at the next station.

    For the past couple of years, commuters had to rely on the empty “skipping trains” that bypassed the first two or three stations to give them a chance to board the train. The frequency of these skipping trains was highly unpredictable. If you happened to get stuck waiting for one in the morning, your wait time could swing anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes depending on the whims of the mythical “control center” and the ineptitude of your local MRT station’s manager-dude.

    This new system allows the flow of people on all stations to move regularly. The queues and the waiting are still there, but the wait time is much more consistent now. Note that I don’t dare say shorter — just more consistent.

    The MRT management should do a better job communicating the reasoning behind these changes — “social experiments” — to the public. It’s a hopeless situation any way you look at it and things should never have escalated to this level of insanity, but there are people out there who are thinking of ways to work around the bullshit. They may be the kind of temporary, stopgap, “ghetto” measures that we generally like to thumb our noses at, but I can certainly appreciate anything that lets me plan my day more accurately.

    1. @ Jed, its good to hear your comment! Instead of cursing the darkness, you lit a candle. Not like many others who can only bitch and complain.
      AND your are right, it never should have gotten so bad to begin with and this is but a bandaid on a gunshot wound. The Management needs some people who are real engineers and professionals to do their planning.

    2. The logic behind the move is correct, but the implementation is just plain unsafe. Don’t forget that the Ultra stampede happened on a downward slope, and as others have mentioned stairs are not designed to hold immense loads for extended amounts of time.

      I rode the MRT at Taft Avenue yesterday at around 11am, and it seems the management has made improvements. Instead of cordoning the stairs, guards now cordon half of the platform. boarding passengers are allowed to go down the platform but they are only allowed to wait at the cordoned half. The other half is to provide an unobstructed exit for alighting passengers. Once the train is empty the cordon is dropped and those waiting are allowed to board. I don’t know if this is implemented consistently throughout business hours, but it is a welcome change.

  11. This news depicts two emotions for me:
    1. Sadness – because it gives us the reality that our public transportation system still needs to develop. From proper management of commuters to maintenance of the facilities within the every train station – when these two are practiced, I believe that it we could somehow have that sense of pride to our transpo system, and to our nation as a whole.
    2. Joy | Hope – because it entitles us to trust more on how we becomes good stewards of little things. Well, if we are to compare our country’s railway station to other nations, there’s no doubt that we are way behind them, but if we so to it, that as just ordinary citizens as we are, we can somehow do our thing in making a solution to this problem.
    Just sharing these thoughts that just came uo in my mind. Thank you for the opportunity! =)

  12. “Number of people transported is more important than number of vehicle transported” – National Transportation Policy, 2005, India

    I hope our Government would invest more on mass transport system (more trains or MRT), Instead of ongoing Road projects which will only benefits the Car manufacturers and Arabs/oil producers due to our dependency on fossil fuel. Proposed Road Sharing (for bike lane & covered walkways) scheme is also not advisable due to our wet (heavy rain) & dry(very hot) weather and worsening pollution problem.

    More train will eventually reduce vehicles, pollution, accidents and promote safer & better (convenient/cleaner) future for all. Example, by adding 1 or 2 rails for Express trains (limited stops) on existing LRT & MRT will greatly solve our transport problem

  13. “If the city decides to buy cars, buycars, buy cars and buy more cars… a day will come when nothing will move.Should planners allow that to happen?” – Delhi High Court on BRT Case (2012)

    “Parking is not a constitutional Right, it is a commodity and one has to pay the price according to its usage”

    “Number of people transported is more important than number of vehicle transported” – National Transportation Policy, 2005, India

    “A Developed Country is not a place where poor have cars. It’s where the rich use Public Transportation” Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bagota, Colombia

    “Each million we invest into urban motorways is an investmentto destroy the city“ – Mayor Hans Joachim Vogel, Munich (1970)

    “If we’re going to talk about transport, I would say that the great city is not the one that has highways, but one where a child on a tricycle or bicycle can go safely everywhere” – Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bagota, Colombia

    “One symbol of lack of democracy is to have cars parked on the sidewalk” – Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bagota, Colombia

    “A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car.” – Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bagota, Colombia

    “We are paving the planet to serve a small portion of the population. And in the process, we are reducing the quality of life for the rest of the population. This is an environmental justice issue” – Spenser Havlick, Professor of Environmental Design, College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

  14. Our President must be ousted from his office due to very poor performance all throughout his term.

    Arenas (for Guinnes Purpose) can only serve million few but what about the daily struggle of almost all filipinos in all walks of life regarding public transportations? So many achievements of Gloria Arroyo which is wasted by this moron president.

    During Gloria Arroyo’s time as a president she walks together with the people and make occular inspections everyday. She is a very hands on president, incomparable to the present one.

    Feel the needs of the people mr. president, its disgusting not to act quickly on problems.

    Dont involve your corrupt sister balls and crony investors in bidding substandard coaches for MRT.

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