Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Disappearance of MRT Tickets

I like to ride the Mass Rail Transit System (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit System (LRT) of Metropolitan Manila. It is for me a convenient way to get around the different cities of Metro Manila. One the whole it is fast and efficient, although there are days when the system stops dead in its tracks – probably caused by Gremlins prowling the tracks. It is also relatively clean, free of graffiti and not so pleasing stench, unlike the buses that seem to be culturing an odd assortment of bugs. Also it does not pollute the environment. For regular commuters of the MRT it was an essential mode of transport to and from work. Despite the occasional problems it was on the whole not a bad form of transport along Edsa. Until a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago the MRT’s stored value card began to disappear. The sign stored value cards unavailable seem to become a permanent fixture pasted on the ticket windows of the MRT stations. The disappearance of the card did not diminish the number of patrons. It did, however, increase the length of the queue leading to the ticket window and it also increase the number of lines occupying the station, especially during rush hours. True, it would take you only fifteen minutes to go from Ayala to Cubao but it was also true that it will take you some time to get a ticket. So what happened to the stored value ticket? Some said the shortage was due to the pullout of MRT tickets with the face of former President Joseph Estrada. And there were some who said it was also due to the pullout of tickets with the face of President Arroyo. Then there were also some people of the opinion that a lot of people were not using the last free ride option in the card, depleting the amount of cards re-entering the system. I am not quite sure if the last hypothesis is valid, perhaps not. One is not even sure if any of the other theories are valid as well. Or could there be other reasons for this shortage? One thing is clear though the sudden scarcity of stored value or season tickets is proving to be a major pain in the gluteus maximus, Forest Gump would say “In the buttocks” or Puwit in Tagalog and Buli in Ilongo. One just wonder why they have not yet implemented a season ticket or a stored value ticket that you can just top-up at will. In the United Kingdom and in Singapore the London Underground and the MRT system of Singapore have season tickets you can just add money to so that the available balance is increased. And in Singapore you can use the same card for buses. This seems more practical than the present system. I know the present problem with the MRT seems to be so miniscule compared with taxes, national politics and other global events. The thing seems to be getting to beyond the point of annoying. In Italy before World War II it took Benito Mussolini and the Blackshirts to make the trains run on time, I wonder what it will take to solve this irritating developments with the MRT. An additional post for today Laguna:Rice Fields


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