An Overview of the Philippine MRT and LRT System
Being the Philippines’ capital, Metro Manila serves as the centre for its culture, economy, education, and government. Like any other developing megacities in the region, Manila has been fraught with commuters and vehicles’ hasty growth. Heavy traffic is taking a toll on the country’s social and economic build-up and adding unquantifiable discomforts to commuters and vehicle owners. Since the main transit modes are public transport, this generally includes road-based transport such as jeepneys, buses, AUV’s, and the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit.
The creation of the Philippine MRT and LRT System provides an adequate, regular and faster mode of transport for commuters all over the metro. The system consists of three urban rail lines, the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 (LRT 1 and LRT2) and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), running in different directions and connecting different cities. The government’s effort to finding a long-term solution to address traffic in the metro is imperative. Extension projects of the previous urban rail lines as additional rail transit systems’ constructions are very promising. These projects aim to ease, if not eliminate, the heavy traffic experienced in Metro Manila. It will hopefully boost the country’s economic structure.
A Brief History of Philippine MRT and LRT System
The Light Rail Transit Line 1, commonly referred to as LRT Line 1 or LRT-1, is a light rapid transit system line in Metro Manila that consists of 20 stations and runs on 19.65-kilometres of the fully elevated route. The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) owns it. Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) is in charge of the operation. It is also a part of the Manila Light Rail System. The initial suggestion from a 1977 study conducted by an international consultancy firm was to build a street-level railway, but the government revised this recommendation to an elevated system. In 1981, the construction of the line began. It became the first rapid transit service in Southeast Asia when its first segment opened on December 1, 1984.
The Light Rail Transit Line 2 is previously known as MRT Line 2 or the Megatren. Since the Light Rail Transit Authority operates the line, people also know it as LRT Line 2 or LRT-2. The line is a heavy rail rapid transit system owing to its use of electric multiple units. The eleven-station, the 16.75-kilometre line was the third rapid transit line built in Metro Manila. Line 2 project officially began in 1996, but the Philippine government stalled it because it conducted several investigations into alleged irregularities. The consortium of local and foreign companies restarted the project in 2000 after getting cleared from the allegations. On April 5, 2003, the government inaugurated the initial section, while the remaining stations opened a year after and became fully operational on October 29, 2004.
The Metro Rail Transit Line 3, or people know it as the MRT Line 3, MRT-3 or Metrostar Express, is the second rapid transit line built in Metro Manila. Like the LRT 1, it is also a light rapid transit system line in Metro Manila. The Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private company operating in partnership with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) under a Build-Lease-Transfer agreement, owns the line. The thirteen-station, the 16.9-kilometre line was envisioned in the 1970s as part of the Metropolitan Manila Strategic Mass Rail Transit Development Plan. The project officially began in 1989, but construction did not begin due to alleged irregularities. Construction began in 1996, and the initial section opened on December 15, 1999. The full operation started in 2000 under the 25-year concession agreement between its private owners and the DOTr.
MRT Lines and Stations
MRT Line 3
MRT Line 3 serves the cities that Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) passes through. These cities are Quezon City, Pasig City, Mandaluyong City, Makati City and Pasay City. North Avenue, the northern terminus, is located in Quezon City and the other stations, Quezon Avenue, Kamuning and Cubao. You can find Shaw Boulevard Station in Pasig City and Boni Avenue in Mandaluyong City. Makati City has four stations, namely Guadalupe, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue (Buendia), Ayala Avenue and Magallanes Avenue. While Taft Avenue, the southern terminus, is at Pasay City. There are MRT-3 stations that interchange with the line operated by Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC). Araneta Center-Cubao Station is indirectly connected with LRT Line 2, and Taft Avenue is connected via a covered walkway to the LRT Line 1 EDSA station.
LRT Lines and Stations
LRT Line 1
The LRT Line 1 generally traverses north-south direction from Baclaran to Monumento and east-west from Monumento to Roosevelt. The line passes through the city of Quezon, Caloocan, Manila, Pasay and Parañaque. It is predominantly aligned to Taft Avenue’s path and shifts to Rizal Avenue and Rizal Avenue Extension, then turning right at EDSA or C-4 Road before ending at the corner of North and West Avenues EDSA.
Roosevelt Station, the northern terminus, is located at Quezon City as well as Balintawak. In Caloocan, there is Monumento and 5th Avenue Station. There are twelve stations in Manila that align with Rizal Avenue and Taft Avenue. Located on Rizal Avenue are R. Papa, Abad Santos, Blumentritt, Tayuman, Bambang, Doroteo Jose and Carriedo. While on Taft Avenue, Central Terminal, United Nations, Pedro Gil, Quirino and Vito Cruz are located. Gil Puyat, Libertad, EDSA and Baclaran also lie in Taft Avenue, but it is under the City of Pasay. Baclaran, the southern terminus, is located at the last stretch of Taft Avenue, right at the border of Pasay and Parañaque. The riding public may transfer to LRT Line 2 at the Doroteo Jose Station and MRT Line 3 at the EDSA Station, both connected via a covered walkway.
LRT Line 2
The LRT Line 2 runs in an east-west direction along Radical Road 6 (Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda Street and Recto Avenue) and a portion of the Circumferential Road 1. The line passes through Manila, San Juan, Quezon City, Marikina City and Pasig City (depot). It serves 11 stations where the rails are mostly elevated and erected over or along the roads covered, except some sections to and from Katipunan Station, the only underground station of the line.
The eastern terminus is the Santolan Station which you can find along Marcos Highway in Marikina City. In Quezon City, they have Katipunan, Anonas, Araneta Center-Cubao, Betty Go-Belmonte and Gilmore stations. J. Ruiz Station is in San Juan, while in Manila, V. Mapa, Pureza, Legarda and Recto Station, the western terminus, are located. Two stations serve as interchanges between LRT Line 1 and MRT Line 3. Araneta Center-Cubao indirectly connects with MRT Line 3 with the same name, and Recto Station is indirectly connected to the LRT Line 1 through a covered walkway.
LRT Line 1
South Extension Project
The government proposed the south extension of line 1, and the project became a reality on May 4, 2017. Also known as the South Extension Project or the Cavite Extension Project, it aims to serve areas in Paranaque to Cavite. The extension would add eight stations: Redemptorist, Manila International Airport, Asia World, Ninoy Aquino, Dr Santos, Las Pinas, Zapote, and Niog. With a fully elevated railway that will pass through Paranaque, Las Pinas and extend outside Manila via Bacoor, Cavite, it will ease commuting to the riding public once the construction is done.
LRT Line 2
LRT Line 2 East Extension is already under construction. This project adds four kilometres of a new line and two stations more stations. You can expect it to be operational by December 2020. Starting from the eastern terminus of Santolan Station, the new route will go to Emerald Station in Marikina. It will continue to the final station, which is Masinag Station in Antipolo, Rizal. This project aims to decongest traffic along Marcos Highway, and when fully completed, it will reduce travel time from Recto to Masinag from 3 hours to 40 minutes.
West Extension Project is a proposed 3.03-kilometre line going to Manila North Harbor. This extension’s construction consists of three stations, the Tutuban Station, Divisoria Station, and Pier 4 Station. The government approved this project’s proposal last May 19, 2015, but it has expired and waited for revisions and approvals. In October 2019, the project bidding process started with a planned completion of the project eyed in 2023.
Line Merge with Line 1
There is a proposal to unite LRT 1 fully and MRT 3 operations and systems. The said proposal was already pitched but has not been pursued yet.
Map of MRT and LRT
Looking at MRT and LRT’s map, it is noticeable to find different colours corresponding to respective lines. LRT Line 1 is also known to be the Yellow Line, LRT Line 2 is the Purple Line, while MRT Line 3 is the Blue Line. Malvar Station between Monumento and Balintawak on the Yellow Line is a previously proposed station, but the construction did not pursue, and the proposal was completely shelved. Three interchanges, Doroteo Jose-Recto Station, EDSA-Taft Station, and Araneta Center-Cubao, are indirectly connected. These interchanges make it easier for the riding public to switch lines for faster transport around the metro.
LRT Line 1
The first train from Roosevelt bound for Baclaran vice versa leaves every day at 04:30 am. During weekdays, the last train from Baclaran leaves at 10:00 pm, while the last train from Roosevelt leaves at 10:15 pm. On Weekends and holidays, the last train departs from Baclaran at 09:30 pm, while the last train departs from Roosevelt at 09:45 pm.
**Roosevelt Station is temporarily closed from September 5, 2020, until December 28, 2020, due to common station works.
LRT Line 2
During weekdays, the start of operation is at 04:30 am. The last commercial train leaves at Santolan station bound for Recto station at 10:00 pm, while the previous commercial train leaves Recto station bound for Santolan at 10:30 pm. The same schedule is also the same during weekends and holidays.
** Particular schedules shall be announced periodically through the LRTA Public Address System, website and social media accounts.
MRT Line 3
The first train leaves North Avenue at 04:59 am, while the last train leaves at 09:10 pm every day. The train schedule on Taft Avenue differs during weekdays and weekends. The first train leaves at 05:50 am, and the last train leaves at 10:10 pm on weekdays, while during weekends, the first train leaves at 05:51 am, and the last train leaves at 10:01 pm.
What to Expect
As of 2019, there are two lines under construction, the MRT Line 7. The said line has been under construction since 2016. It will run northeast from North Avenue Station on MRT Line 3 along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. It is up to Caloocan City and San Jose Del Monte’s adjoining municipality in Bulacan. When completed, the line will track a 22.8-kilometre railway with 14 stations.
Another line that is also under construction is the Metro Manila Subway. Dubbed as the “Project of the Century” in the country, it will be the first fully underground rail rapid system in Metro Manila. The 36-kilometre line will run north-south between Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Pasay, which will consist of 15 stations. Designed to connect with the other urban rail transit services in the metro, it will allow riders to transfer from one line to another.