Manila commuters’ nightmare: SM City ‘grand central station’ plans for MRT and LRT lines now in pieces!

What was once a grand plan to construct what could have been considered Manila’s first true “Grand Central Station” near SM North EDSA Mall has stalled and has literally broken up into little pieces that will leave commuters, as usual, grasping the short end of the stick. The station would have linked tracks being built under the LRT1 North Extension, MRT Line-3, and MRT Line-7 Projects into an integrated rail junction housed within a single building.

[See full-sized images here.]

Called the Metro Manila Integrated Rail Terminal or Common Station, the proposal encompasses the proposed terminus of LRT Line 1. It is the planned interchange station that will connect LRT-1, MRT-3 and the terminus of the proposed MRT-7, which will run from North Avenue, Quezon City, to Araneta-Colinas, San Jose del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue and Quirino Highway.

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The project, which was conceived way back in 2007 and approved in 2009 and could have been completed in 2010 but languishes today as key players in the project, SM Prime Holdings, the Ayala Corporation and the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) remain at legal loggerheads. The DOTC, for its part, favours the option to build the integrated terminal near Ayala Corp’s Trinoma instead of in front of SM North EDSA as originally planned…

Last week, SM Prime sued the DOTC and the LRTA for alleged breach of contract on the location of the common train station. SM Prime argued it has a NEDA-ICC approval back in 2009 to build the common train station at SM North EDSA mall.

However, DOTC said that approval expired and government will generate savings of P1 billion if the station is built near [the Ayala Corporation’s mall,] Trinoma.

A user who goes by the handle jval developed an illustration of the change in plans and first posted it on Page 185 of the “Mass Rapid Transit” thread of that forum on the 10th June 2014. The image has since been widely shared over social media.

[See full-sized image here.]

Much of the insight and commentary that has since come flooding in was handily summed up today by Inquirer columnist Conrado R. Banal III, thus;

It was rather common sense for the technical people hired by LRTA to locate the station at the SM mall, because there they could connect all three lines—LRT-1 and MRT-3, plus MRT-7—rather seamlessly.

The location at Trinoma would exclude the MRT-7 station, for example, and the commuters thus would have to walk a long way (more than 600 meters) in what was supposed to be a “common” station during rush hours when the station would be bursting with humanity.

Integrated interchanges such as the one originally proposed under the original SM Prime proposal where passengers can change train lines conveniently are essential in Manila’s tropical climate, an environment made worse by the city’s perenial pollution and dustinesss. Metro Manila is also indisputedly a pedestrian-unfriendly metropolis where pedestrians compete with road vehicles for space to move.

27 Replies to “Manila commuters’ nightmare: SM City ‘grand central station’ plans for MRT and LRT lines now in pieces!”

  1. It is called “grand central terminal” for a reason. Whoever they are in the DOTC who favor the station to be built at Trinoma are either idiots or are more concerned with their “own welfare”.

  2. Over at my end, anti-SM “activists” find the Trinoma plan better because it apparently goes against SM’s “corporate greed.” When SM sued, they saw it as the government being “hoodwinked” by SM.

    Another example of why a lot of “activism” in the Philippines borders on the plain stupid. And not just the “oh I didn’t know” kind of stupid–it’s the “I’m closing my ears I can’t hear you la la la la” kind.

    1. And a lot of commuters will suffer hellishly from transferring to other stations all thanks to supporting idiots like you.

      1. 600 meters of walking is a short distance. It’s even longer in other rail interchanges in other asian countries and they dont mind the long walk (seriously they walk faster than us and you’ll know there is a Filipino tourist in the crowd if you saw a slow walker who doesnt care if he’s causing a nuissance to people behind him while holding his selfie stick). Or Filipinos are just lazy to walk and like the jeepney mentality, they want to be offloaded exactly at their homes’ doorstep.

    2. Does it matter what mall gets it, as long as the original plan should have been followed?

      The MRT is yet another example of the Filipino penchant for rendering planning ineffective.

  3. I could give a rat’s ass, but if the country wants it done right they need to hire the planners for the Seoul subway system. Then IF RECOMMENDATIONS ARE FOLLOWED, the thing will work properly (but only if good trains are bought and non-Filipino contractors build it).

  4. The selection and NEDA Board approval of NEDA development and/or PPP projects are most often delayed due to technical redesign and subsequent cost benefit computations as well as conflicting rescheduling. Delays could also be attributed to lobbying efforts of suppliers and/or consortium partners ; or the project would still have to be subjected to Swiss challenge mechanisms. Nevertheless, NEDA and implementing agencies maybe integrity-challenged to resolve competing claims or technical impasses. In this context, one may ask if current governing laws on government officials and employees have been aligned towards a unified government integrity code following the daang matuwid mantra of the current dispensation. Government inefficiency and corruption remain endemic largely because the idea of integrity has yet to seep through the bureaucracy. We hope that the NEDA Board resolutely settle the issue in favor of a grand central terminal that benefits the mass transport commuters rather than giving way to dominant rentier group.

  5. Planners should not be a filipino (ang pinoy either corrupt o bobo pag development na pinagusapan). Look at all the MTRs of HK, Shanghai, Japan, & Korea. Di pwde laging convenient kya nga sumisikip e mga bobo! Sa abroad nga lalakad ka ng 500m-2km sa dami ng exit at connections sa stations… malalayo din dapat ang next stations, point1vto point2 nga hana ng tren nila… dito lahat ng kanto gusto tigila.. at di dapata sa EDSA nilagay yan!!!!

    1. “Integrated interchanges such as the one originally proposed under the original SM Prime proposal where passengers can change train lines conveniently are essential in Manila’s tropical climate, an environment made worse by the city’s perenial pollution and dustinesss.”

      do you even read? hindi applicable dito ang meron sa ibang bansa basically dahil sa climate, sobrang init dito! oo nagpapabalik balik kami sa hongkong at di ko namamalayang 1 hr na pala akong naglalakad sa walkways, sobrang layo na narating ko pero d pa rin ako nakakalapag sa lupa ganun ka convenient pero dito kase d pa ko nakakalabas ng bahay pawis na pawis na ko!

      1. Really? So they are planning the Grand central station as an “open space” structure instead of a closed and air conditioned building like on the above mentioned countries? Haven’t they learned the experience with our existing mrt and lrt stations – all are open spaces, nababasa ang loob kapag umuulan pati mga elevator at escalator nasisira at di mapakinabangan dahil sa tubig ulan, pati mga pasahero parang basang sisiw pag bagyo at kung tag araw eh mga dugyot. Just because we are a tropical country eh kailangan ka join din ang mga commuters sa pagkabasa sa ulan at pollution sa Edsa?

  6. So much for my dream of seeing something similar with Tokyo station in Japan..minus the Shinkansen at least..all because of business disputes.

    back to the buses

  7. It is not for the welfare and the convinience of the public, that the Metro Terminal is proposed to be built. It is for the convinience of SM to sell more goods; and Ayala’s self interest.

    Our country is being dictated by the likes of these Oligarchs; for them to make more money. The terminal is built at our taxpayers’ expenses. Why would these Oligarchs dictate what they want? It is not their money that is being used.

    1. I rode a train in Manila once and that was enough for me…long lines, standing room (?) only on the thing, dirty, nasty and dangerous…like a jeepney on rails. However, build a (proper) train system is probably the only thing that can even attempt to address the traffic clogging the “Gates of Hell.”

      After looking at the maps, it would appear to most logical people that the location near the SM is the best one. Of course the 2 competing locations are being touted by businesses with money motivations, but that does not remove geography from the equation.

  8. Ick! Thank God, I don’t use the MRT anymore. I’d rather have a train ride in Tokyo again than this one.

  9. If I somehow had urban planning power, I’d raise Taft MRT-3 station and have THAT loop around into the LRT-1. Line 3 becomes a Taft/Edsa loop, Line 1 crosses over it past Monumento but going further up and west toward Caloocan etc.

    Yeah. A man can dream.

  10. Many people don’t get it… I’m no SM fan, i really hate how they greedily take everything but let’s try connecting the dots… Who are the major shareholders of the MRT? What is the reason for the commuters congestion in the trains? Why is there lack of trains? Who is now handling the MRT-LRT AFC project? What are other PPP projects concerning MRT-LRT and who are their major players? If you searched/answered my questions, you’ll definitely catch my drift!

  11. Let us end the selfishness of both owners of the two malls this way:
    The grand central station extends from SM North Edsa to Trinoma linking both to the GCS and the three forming one complex shopping mall and station. The GCS should also be about 5 to 10 stories high which offers lease spaces for offices, department stores and parking areas, probably with a hotel. These should be a great point of convergence and best complement to the new QC CBD. The three SM, Ayala, and the Govt/LGU should agree on this so the complex will be built soon, rather than drag the development empty due to some worthless legal drama.

  12. Bulok kasi itong ating Aquino government kaya walang naipapatupad na kabutihan para sa bayan.Puro pansariling kabutihan lang ang kayang gawin pero ang taongbayan pinapabayaang magdusa!

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