Manila Light Rail Transit System: Wikis


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Manila Light Rail Transit System
Sistema ng Magaan na Riles Panlulan ng Maynila
LRTA Logo.png
Locale Metro Manila
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 2
Number of stations 29
Daily ridership 579,000 (2009)
Began operation December 1, 1984
Operator(s) Light Rail Transit Authority
System length 28.8 km
Track gauge 1435 mm (standard gauge)
Diagram showing the stations along the north–south LRT Line 1 and east–west LRT Line 2 in general relation to each other as described in the text
Current system map of the Manila LRT

The Manila Light Rail Transit System (Filipino: Sistema ng Magaan na Riles Panlulan ng Maynila),[citation needed] popularly known as the LRT, is a metropolitan rail system serving the Metro Manila area in the Philippines. Its 29 stations over 28.8 kilometers (17.9 mi) of mostly elevated track form two lines. LRT Line 1, also called the Yellow Line, opened in 1984 and travels a north–south route. LRT Line 2, the Purple Line, was completed in 2004 and runs east–west.

The LRT is operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government-owned and controlled corporation under the authority of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Along with the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT, also called the Blue Line), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), the LRT is part of Metro Manila's rail transportation infrastructure known as the Strong Republic Transit System (SRTS).

Quick and inexpensive to ride, the LRT has an average daily ridership of around 579,000 passengers. While the original LRT Line 1 was built as a no frills means of public transport and lacks some features and comforts, the new LRT Line 2 has been built with additional standards and criteria in mind like barrier-free access. Security guards are found at each station to conduct inspections and provide assistance. Although referred to as a "light rail" system, arguably because the network is mostly elevated and originally used light rail rolling stock, it is more akin to a rapid transit (metro) system. A reusable plastic magnetic ticketing system has replaced the previous token-based system and the Flash Pass introduced as a step towards a more integrated transportation system.

Many passengers who ride the LRT also take various forms of road-based public transport, such as buses, to and from a LRT station to reach their intended destination. Although it aims to reduce traffic congestion and travel times in the metropolis, the transportation system has only been partially successful due to the rising number of motor vehicles[1] and rapid urbanization. The network's expansion is set on tackling this problem.



The Yellow Line forms the vertical left side and slightly rounded top of a D that is completed by the Blue Line forming the rest of the D's semicircle. The Purple Line, roughly horizontal but angled slightly upward, bisects this D shape. From the top left, the PNR or Orange Line starts parallel and to the left of the Yellow Line then semicircles through it and the Purple Line before once again resuming a roughly parallel direction angled slightly away to the right of the Yellow Line and passes through the Blue Line.
Metro Manila SRTS map showing the Yellow (LRT Line 1), Purple (LRT Line 2), Blue (MRT 3), and Orange (PNR) Lines as well as currently under construction LRT Line 1 north extension.

The LRT network consists of two lines: the original LRT Line 1 (LRT 1) or Yellow Line and the more modern LRT Line 2 (LRT 2 or MRT 2) or Purple Line. The Yellow Line has eighteen stations aligned in a general north–south direction over 15 kilometers (9.32 mi) of fully elevated track. Commencing in Monumento it runs south above Rizal and Taft Avenues before ending in Baclaran.[2] A 4-station east–west extension along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue that will connect Monumento to the North Avenue MRT Station is currently under construction. The Purple Line consists of eleven stations in a general east–west direction over 13.8 kilometers (8.57 mi) of mostly elevated track, with one station lying underground. From Recto, the line follows a corridor defined by Recto and Legarda Avenues, Ramon Magsaysay and Aurora Boulevards, and Marcos Highway before ending in Santolan.[3] The LRT passes through the cities of Caloocan, Manila, Marikina, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, and San Juan.

Everyday around 409,000 passengers board the Yellow Line, while around 170,000 ride the Purple Line.[4][5] During peak hours, LRT Line 1 fields 24 trains with a minimum train headway of 3 minutes; LRT Line 2 runs 12 trains with a minimum headway of 5 minutes.[6] With the proper upgrades, the LRT Line 1 is designed to potentially run with headway as low as 1.5 minutes.[7] The LRT Line 2 can run with headway as low as 2 minutes with throughput of up to 60,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd).[8]

In conjuction with the MRT, also known as the Blue Line and operated by the private Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), the LRT provides the platform for the vast majority of rail travel in the Metro Manila area. Together with the PNR, the three constitute the SRTS.[9] Recto and Doroteo Jose serve as the sole interchange between both lines of the LRT. Araneta Center-Cubao and EDSA stations serve as interchanges between the LRT network and the MRT. To transfer lines, passengers will need to exit from the station they are in then pass through covered walkways connecting the stations.[10] Blumentritt LRT Station is a short walk away from its PNR counterpart.

The LRT has six terminal stations: Baclaran, Central Terminal, and Monumento for the Yellow Line; Recto, Araneta Center-Cubao, and Santolan for the Purple Line. All terminal stations are located on or near major transport routes where passengers can take other forms of transportation such as privately run buses and jeepneys to reach their ultimate destination both within Metro Manila and in neighboring provinces. The system has two depots. The Yellow Line uses Pasay Depot at LRTA headquarters near Baclaran Terminal in Pasay City; the Purple Line uses Santolan Depot built by Sumitomo in Pasig City.[2][3][11]

The LRT is open every day of the year from 5:00 am PST (UTC+8) until 11:00 pm on weekdays, and from 5:00 am until 9:30 pm on weekends, except when changes have been announced.[12] Notice of special schedules is given through press releases, via the public address system in every station, and on the LRTA website.

 LRT Line 1 & LRT Line 2
Unused urban continuation backward
  Planned extension to Antipolo, Rizal
(planned interchange with MRT)   North Avenue 
Urban railway
Unused urban head station elevated + Unused urban interchange head
Urban head station elevated + Urban head station, unused through track
Unused urban station on elevated Urban bridge over water
  Crossing above Marikina River
Unused urban station on elevated
Urban underground stop on track on above ground line + Urban tunnel station on track
Unused urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
Urban station on elevated Urban interchange on elevated Urban railway
 Araneta Center-Cubao   (interchange with MRT)
5th Avenue 
Urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
 Betty Go-Belmonte
R. Papa 
Urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
Abad Santos 
Urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
 J. Ruiz
(connection to PNR)   Blumentritt 
National railway Urban interchange on elevated Urban station on elevated
 V. Mapa
Urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
Urban station on elevated Urban station on elevated
(walkway access to Recto LRT 2)   Doroteo Jose  
Urban railway
Urban station on elevated + Hub
Urban terminal on elevated facing right + Hub
Urban track turning right on elevated
Urban station on elevated
Crossing above Pasig River  
Urban bridge over water
Central Terminal 
Urban station on elevated
United Nations 
Urban station on elevated
Pedro Gil 
Urban station on elevated
Quirino Avenue 
Urban station on elevated
Vito Cruz 
Urban station on elevated
Gil Puyat 
Urban station on elevated
Urban station on elevated
(walkway access to Taft MRT)   EDSA 
Urban railway Urban interchange on elevated
Urban end station elevated + Urban end station, unused through track
Planned southern extension to Bacoor, Cavite  
Unused urban continuation forward


A relatively empty boarding platform with only a handful of people identified by a sign as that at Vito Cruz station. Pebbles line the tracks and sunlight comes in from spaces open to the outside and large open flaps in the dark warehouse-like roof.
While the concourse and platform areas of Yellow Line stations are both located on the same level...
An empty boarding platform well-lit by sunlight streaming from windows on the walls and ceiling from which hangs a yellow latticed net of metal.
...platforms are located on a separate level at Purple Line stations.

With the exception of Katipunan (which is underground), all stations on the LRT are elevated. They follow one of two different layouts. Most Yellow Line stations are composed of only one level, accessible from the street below by stairway, containing the station's concourse and platform areas separated by fare gates. The boarding platforms measure around 100 meters (328.08 feet) long and 3.5 meters (11.48 feet) wide.[13] Yellow Line terminal stations, Carriedo, and all Purple Line stations are composed of two levels: a lower concourse level and an upper platform level (reversed in the case of Katipunan). Fare gates separate the concourse level from the stairs and escalators that provide access to the platform level. All LRT stations have side platforms except for Baclaran, which has one side and one island platform, and Santolan, which has an island platform. Because of the use of side platforms, Yellow Line passengers need to exit the station (and by extension, the system) and pay a new fare in order to access the other platform for the train bound in the opposite direction. Seamless transfer between platforms (that is, without needing to exit the system) is possible on the Purple Line.

The concourse area at LRT stations typically contain a passenger assistance office (PAO), ticket purchasing areas (ticket counters and/or ticket machines), and at least one stall that sells food and drinks. Terminal stations also have a public relations office. Stores where passengers can purchase mobile phone credits and other goods and ATMs are usually found at street level outside the station, although there are instances where they can be found within the concourse. Some stations, such as Central Terminal and Araneta Center-Cubao, are directly connected to shopping malls. All LRT stations have a restroom, but Yellow Line restrooms have been the subject of much criticism not only because stations are equipped with only a single bathroom serving all passengers (whether male, female, disabled or otherwise), but also because of their uncleanliness and the impression they are unsanitary.[14] Purple Line stations have two restrooms.

Originally, the LRT was not built with accessibility in mind. This is reflected in the Yellow Line's original lack of barrier-free facilities, such as escalators, elevators, wide fare gates or reserved areas for wheelchairs. However, the newer Purple Line, unlike its counterpart, is designed to be barrier-free. Built by a joint venture between Hanjin and Itochu, LRT Line 2 stations have wheelchair ramps, braille markings, and path finding embossed flooring leading to and from the boarding platforms in addition to escalators and elevators.[3][15]

In cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, copies of the Inquirer Libre, a free, tabloid-size, Tagalog version of the Inquirer broadsheet, are available from 6:00 am until supplies run out at selected LRT stations.[16]

Rolling stock

An angled side view of trolley like railcars with relatively large windows passing along an elevated concrete viaduct, electric posts and wires overhead, a road and cars underneath.
First generation Yellow Line train headed towards Baclaran Station
A metallic metro train with a blue yellow and blue stripe running along its side waits with doors open at a station with a dark roof and flaps letting in some sunlight as disembarked passengers head for the exit
A second generation Yellow Line train at Gil Puyat Station
An angled side view of a box-like articulated metro train with blue doors and yellow stripe running along its top edge and a black colored angle planed front framing the drivers window as it passes along an elevated concrete viaduct with electric posts and wires overhead and a road and cars underneath
A third generation Yellow Line train heading to EDSA Station
A metro train with a yellow stripe running its top edge and a stylized purple stripe along its side waits at a station with yellow a latticed metal net hanging from above with its doors closed as people line up and position themselves to enter
A Purple Line train at Recto Station

Four types of rolling stock run on the LRT, with three types used on the Yellow Line and another used on the Purple Line. The Yellow Line railcars were made either in Belgium by ACEC, South Korea by Hyundai Precision and Adtranz (ACEC and Adtranz are now part of Bombardier Transportation), or Japan by Kinki Sharyo.[3][17][18] The Purple Line, unlike the Yellow Line, runs heavy rail metro cars made in South Korea by Hyundai Rotem and provided by the Asia-Europe MRT Consortium led by Marubeni Corporation.[19]


Yellow Line

The Yellow Line at various stages in its history has used a two-car, three-car, and four-car train. The two-car trains are the original first generation ACEC trains (railcars numbered from 1000). Most were transformed into three-car trains, although some two-car trains remain in service. The four-car trains are the more modern second generation Hyundai Precision and Adtranz (numbered from 1100) and third generation Kinki Sharyo (1200) trains.[20][21] There are 139 railcars serving the line (40 trainsets): 63 of these are first generation cars, 28 second generation, and 48 third generation.[6] The maximum speed of these cars is 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph).[17][18]

To cope with increasing ridership, the Yellow Line fleet is undergoing modernization. In the initial phase of its capacity expansion program completed in 1999 with the commissioning of the line's seven four-car second generation trains, train capacity was increased to 1350 passengers (the original two-car trains could hold 748 passengers while the modified three-car trains could hold 1122 passengers).[20]

Yellow Line rolling stock in the past were notorious for their lack of air conditioning. Instead, forced-air roof ventilation was used.[22] Unfortunately, this resulted in a very hot and stuffy ride aboard the line. The problem was first addressed with the acquisition of the second generation trains and more thoroughly after a preparatory rehabilitation program was completed in 2001.[23] By June 2004, all Yellow Line trains had air conditioning.[24][25]

Rolling Stock First Generation (2-car train) First Generation (3-car train) Second Generation (4-car train)
Car-type 8-axle (4 bogie) rigid body 8-axle (4 bogie) rigid body 6-axle (3 bogie) rigid body
Car-size 2.5m wide; 29.28m long 2.5m wide; 29.28m long 2.59m wide; 26-26.5m long
Train Length (2-car) 59.59m (3-car) 89.37m (4-car) 105.7m
Articulation double double single
Capacity 748 passengers 1,122 passengers 1,350 passengers
Doors plug-type; 5-doors/side plug-type; 5-doors/side interior sliding type; 4-doors/side
Traction System DC induction mono-motor DC induction mono-motor AC induction mono-motor
Traction Power 750dc OCS; pantograph power connection 750dc OCS; pantograph power connection 750dc OCS; pantograph power connection
Carbody Shell BI sheet BI sheet stainless steel
Ventilation air-conditioned; previously forced ventilation air-conditioned; previously forced ventilation air-conditioned; roof-mounted duct type; 2 units/car

Source: LRTA[20][25]

As part of the second phase of expansion on the Yellow Line, twelve new trains made in Japan by Kinki Sharyo and provided by the Manila Tren Consortium were shipped in the third quarter of 2006 and went into service in the first quarter of 2007. The new air-conditioned trains feature ergonomic seating and other features designed to make it more user-friendly and have boosted the capacity of the line from 27,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) to 40,000 pphpd.[26][27][21]

Purple Line

The Purple Line fleet runs eighteen four-car trains with light weight stainless carbodies powered by 1500 volt electric motors. They have a top speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph) and usually take around thirty minutes to journey from one end of the line to the the other.[28] Each train measures around 3.2 meters wide and 92.6 meters long allowing a capacity of 1628 passengers: 232 seated and 1396 standing. 20 sliding doors per side facilitate quick entry and exit. The line's trains also feature air-conditioning, driverless automatic train operation from the Operations Control Center (OCC) in Santolan, low noise control, enabled electric and regenerative braking, and closed-circuit television inside the trains.[29][30] Special open spaces and seats are designated for wheelchair-bound and elderly passengers and automatic next station announcements are made for the convenience of passengers especially the visually impaired.[3][15]

Safety and security

The LRT has always presented itself as a safe system to travel on and despite some incidents the running of metro rail transit operations overall has been judged "good".[31] Safety notices in both English and Tagalog are a common sight at LRT stations and inside LRT trains. In the event of emergencies or unexpected events aboard the LRT, the following code alerts are used to inform passengers about the current state of LRT operations:

Alert Result
Code Blue Results in an increased interval time between train arrivals
Code Yellow Results in a slight delay in the departure and arrival of trains from the stations
Code Red Results in the temporary suspension of all LRT services due to technical problems

Eating or drinking is prohibited inside the platform area of all LRT stations and inside the trains. Smoking, previously banned only at station platforms and inside trains, has likewise been banned at station concourse areas since June 24, 2008.[32] Hazardous chemicals, such as paint and gasoline, as well as sharp pointed objects that could be used as weapons, are forbidden.[33] Full-sized bicycles and skateboards are also not allowed on board the LRT, although the ban on folding bicycles was lifted on November 8, 2009.[34][35] Passengers at LRT stations are advised not to stay too close to the red tiles at the edge of the platforms (or yellow tiles in the case of the Purple Line) to avoid falling onto the tracks. Those under the influence of alchohol may be denied entry into the stations to prevent trouble and misunderstandings.[33]

In response to the Rizal Day bombings, a series of attacks on December 30, 2000 that included the bombing of a LRT train among other targets, and in the wake of greater awareness of terrorism following the September 11 attacks, security has been stepped up onboard the LRT. The Philippine National Police has a special LRT police force,[36] and security police provided by private companies are assigned to all LRT stations with each having a designated head guard. Closed-circuit televisions have been installed to monitor stations and keep track of suspicious activities. To better prepare for and improve response to any adverse incidents, drills simulating terror attacks and earthquakes have been conducted.[6][37] It is standard practice for bags to be inspected upon entry into stations by guards equipped with hand-held metal detectors. Those who refuse to submit to such inspection may be denied entry.[38] Starting May 1, 2007, the LRTA began enforcing a policy against making false bomb threats, a policy already enforced at airports nationwide. Those who make threats can face penalties in violation of Presidential Decree No. 1727, as well as face legal action.[39] Posted notices on station walls and inside trains remind passengers to be careful and be wary of criminals who may take advantage of the crowding aboard LRT trains. To address concerns of inappropriate contact on crowded trains, the first railcar of Yellow Line trains have been designated for females only.[16]


The LRT is one of the least expensive rapid transit systems in Southeast Asia, costing significantly less to ride than other systems in the region.[40][41] Fares are distance-based, ranging from ₱12 to ₱15 (about 23 to 29 U.S. cents), depending on the number of stations traveled to reach the destination.[42][43] Unlike other transportation systems where transfer to another line happens within a station's paid area, a passenger will need to exit the paid area of the line he came from and pay a new fare for the line he is entering. This is also the case on the Yellow Line when changing boarding platforms to catch trains going in the opposite direction.

The Yellow Line uses two different fare structures: one for single journey tickets and another for stored value tickets and Flash Passes. Passengers using single journey tickets are charged ₱12 for the first four stations and ₱15 for subsequent stations. For stored value tickets and Flash Passes, passengers are charged ₱12 for the first four stations, ₱13 for five to eight stations, ₱14 for nine to twelve stations and ₱15 for more than twelve stations or the entire line.[42]

The Purple Line, on the other hand, has only one fare structure for single journey, stored value tickets, and Flash Passes. Passengers are charged ₱12 for the first three stations, ₱13 for a journey covering four to six stations, ₱14 for seven to nine stations and ₱15 for more than nine stations or the entire line.[43]

Yellow Line
Distance (No. of Stations) <5 5-8 9-12 13-17
Single Journey Ticket Fare (₱) 12 15 15 15
Stored Value Ticket Fare (₱) 12 13 14 15
Purple Line
Distance (No. of Stations) <4 4-6 7-9 10
Single Journey Ticket Fare or
Stored Value Ticket Fare (₱)
12 13 14 15


Before 2001, passengers on the Yellow Line would purchase a token to enter the station. Subsequent upgrades in the fare collection system eventually transitioned the Yellow Line from a token-based system to a ticket-based system, with full conversion to a ticket-based system being achieved on September 9, 2001.[44] Passengers can enter the LRT paid areas with either a single journey or stored value magnetic stripe plastic ticket or a Flash Pass. On the Yellow Line tickets are sold over the counter; on the Purple Line they can also be procured from ticket machines.[3]

Magnetic ticket

A card with the words "single journey" in a red rectangle going down the left side taking about 10% of it and the rest showing a drawing of a wavy flag containing a white triangle with stylized sun and stars on a field of blue and red. Above the flag is a reference to National Flag Day and the 111th Philippine Independence Day and corresponding dates. Underneath are the words "Pilipinas kong Mahal!" (The Philippines I Love).
A sample Yellow Line ticket

Currently the LRT uses two types of tickets: a single journey (one-way) ticket whose cost is dependent on the destination, and a stored value (multiple-use) ticket available for ₱100.[43] Senior citizens and disabled passengers may avail of fare discounts as mandated by law. Tickets would normally bear a picture of the incumbent president (currently Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), though some ticket designs have done away with this practice.

On a card with a purple background at top that slowly by gradients changes to white on the bottom: the words single journey in a deep purple oval near the top slightly to the left, the word "Megatren" writ large below it and a deep purple line with white dots below that representing the stations of the line. A picture of the upper body of a woman wearing a red dress and with black hair smiling at the viewer is on the top right with an emblem of a stylized star to her left.
A sample Purple Line ticket

Single journey tickets are only valid on the day of purchase and will be unusable afterward. They expire if not used to exit the same station after 30 minutes from entry or if not used to exit the system after 120 minutes from entry. If the ticket expires, the passenger will be required to buy a new one. Stored value tickets are usable on either the Yellow or Purple Lines although a new fare will be charged when transferring from line one to the other. To reduce ticket queues, the LRTA is promoting the use of stored value tickets. Aside from benefitting from a lower fare structure on the Yellow Line, stored value ticket users can avail of a scheme called the "Last Ride Bonus" that grants the use of any residual amount in a stored value ticket less than the usual minimum ₱12 fare, or the appropriate fare for the station of arrival from the station of departure, as a full fare.[41] Stored value tickets are not reloadable and are captured by the fare gate after the last use. They expire six months after the date of first use.[43]

To enter the paid area of the LRT, a passenger inserts a ticket into a fare gate which then almost instantaneously processes and ejects it allowing the passenger through the turnstile. The passenger must then remember to take the ejected ticket while passing through so that at the exit turnstile at the destination station it can be used to leave the premises. Tickets are captured by the exit turnstiles to be reused by the system if they no longer have any value. If it is a stored value ticket with some value remaining, however, it is once again ejected by the fare gate to be taken by the passenger for future use.[45]

Flash Pass

To better integrate the LRT and MRT networks, a unified ticketing system utilizing contactless smart cards, similar to the Octopus card in Hong Kong and the EZ-Link card in Singapore, was made a goal of the SRTS.[46][47] In a transitional move towards such a unified ticketing system, the Flash Pass was implemented on April 19, 2004 as a stopgap measure.[48] However, plans for a unified ticketing system using smart cards have languished,[49] leaving the Flash Pass to fill the role for the foreseeable future. While the Flash Pass is honored by the LRT, the Light Rail Transit Authority no longer sells them. Only the Metro Rail Transit Corporation, the Blue Line operator, offers them for sale.

On a card with a background of blue, purple, and yellow, the words "Strong Republic Transit System" is printed on top. Below to the left the letters "SRTransit" in a white oval form a logo. To its right are the words "Unified Ticketing System" and "Flash Pass". below the logo is an I.D. picture of a young woman with long black hair wearing a strap dress in white background smiling at the viewer. To the picture's right are three long narrow horizontal white rectangles on top of each other. The first contains her name, the one below is for her signature, the third shows the 10-digit card number. To the right of the first two white rectangles are stylized M's representing two different logos one on top of the other. Below them a cyan box.
A sample Flash Pass Card
A card with a background of blue, purple, and yellow shows the card's number; its value of 250 pesos; the dates of its validity; logos of the SRTS, LRT, and MRT; a week number; and the words "Strong Republic Transit System Unified Ticketing System Weekly Flash Pass Coupon".
A sample Flash Pass Coupon

The pass consists of two parts: the Flash Pass Card and the Flash Pass Coupon.[50] A nontransferable Flash Pass Card used for validation needs to be acquired before a Flash Pass Coupon can be purchased. To obtain a card, a passenger will need to visit a designated station and fill out an application form. Although the card is issued free of charge and contains no expiry date, it is expected to be issued only once. Should it be lost, an affidavit of loss will need to be submitted before a replacement can be issued. The Flash Pass Coupon, which serves as a ticket, is linked to the passenger's Flash Pass Card through the card number printed on the coupon. The coupon costs ₱250 and is valid for unlimited rides on all three lines of the LRT and MRT for one week.[50] The card and coupon are used by showing them to a security guard at an opening along the fare gates who after checking for validity will allow the holder to pass through.[48]


The LRT's roots date back to the American colonial period. In 1905, the first of twelve mandated electric tranvia (tram) lines operated by the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (Meralco) opened in Manila.[51] At the end of the first year around 63 kilometers (39 mi) of track had been laid.[52] A five-year reconstruction program was initiated in 1920, and by 1924, 170 cars serviced many parts of the city and its outskirts.[52] An efficient system for the city's 220,000 inhabitants, by the 1930s the tranvia had stopped expanding.[51][52][53]

An electric trolley with a man hanging off one side rounds a corner of a street lined by two-story stores and horse-drawn kalesas.
A tranvia from the 1910s

World War II shut the system down. By the war's end, the tram network was damaged beyond repair amid a city that lay in ruins. It was dismantled and jeepneys became the city's primary form of transportation, plying the routes once served by the tram lines.[51] With the return of buses and cars to the streets, traffic congestion became a problem. In 1966, the Philippine government granted a franchise to Philippine Monorail Transport Systems (PMTS) for the operation of an inner-city monorail.[54] The monorail's feasibility study was still being completed, when the government asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to conduct a separate transport study.[53] Done between 1971 and 1973, the JICA study proposed a series of circumferential and radial roads, an inner-city rapid transit system, a commuter railway, and an expressway with three branches. A further study was made on how to implement these systems.[53] While many recommendations were adopted, none of the them involved rapid transit, and the monorail was never built. PMTS' franchise subsequently expired in 1974.[55]

Between 1976 and 1977, another study was done by Freeman, Fox & Associates, funded by the World Bank. Though it originally suggested a street-level railway, the newly-formed Ministry of Transportation and Communications (now the DOTC) revised the recommendations, calling instead for an elevated system because of the city's many intersections.[51] The revisions, however, increased the price of the project from 1.5 billion to 2 billion Philippine pesos (₱). A supplementary study conducted by another foreign firm was completed within three months.

Below, on elevated tracks surrounded by a daytime urban landscape of roads, cars, buildings, and billboards, a metro train approaches, its front driver's window framed on the sides by angled planes and yellow markings visible as the rest of the train trails behind curving slightly to the right into the distance.
A Yellow Line train approaching EDSA station

Heeding the call of both reports, President Ferdinand Marcos created the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) on July 12, 1980 by virtue of Executive Order No. 603[56] giving birth to what was then dubbed the "Metrorail". First Lady Imelda Marcos, then governor of Metro Manila and minister of human settlements, became its first chairman. Although responsible for all operations of the LRT, the LRTA primarily confined itself to setting and regulating fares, planning extensions and determining rules and policies, leaving the day-to-day operations to a sister company of Meralco called the Meralco Transit Organization (METRO Inc.).[17] Initial assistance for the project came in the form of a ₱300 million soft loan from the Belgian government, with an additional ₱700 million coming from a consortium of companies comprising SA Ateliers de Constructions Electriques de Charleroi (ACEC) and BN Constructions Ferroviaires et Métalliques (today both part of Bombardier Transportation), Tractionnel Engineering International (TEI) and Transurb Consult (TC).[17][57] Although expected to pay for itself from revenues within twenty years of the start of operation, it was initially estimated that the system would lose money until at least 1993. For its first year of operation, despite a projected ₱365 million in gross revenue, losses of ₱216 million were thought likely.[53]

Construction of the Yellow Line started in September 1981 with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (now the Philippine National Construction Corporation) as the contractor with assistance from Losinger, a Swiss firm, and the Philippine subsidiary of Dravo, an American firm.[53] The government appointed Electrowatt Engineering Services of Zürich to oversee construction and eventually became responsible for the extension studies of future expansion projects. The line was test-run in March 1984, and on December 1, 1984, the first half of the Yellow Line, from Baclaran to Central Terminal, was opened. The second half, from Central Terminal to Monumento, was opened on May 12, 1985.[2]

A squarish aerodynamically contoured front of a metro train with purple and yellow stripes running along its sides enters from the right into an empty station that is lit up in part by sunlight streaming in from glass doors and windows.
A Purple Line train at J. Ruiz station

Unexpectedly, overcrowding and heavy usage took its toll a few years after opening. In 1990, the Yellow Line fell so far into disrepair due to premature wear and tear that trains headed to Central Terminal station had to crawl to avoid further damage to the support beams below as cracks reportedly began to appear.[51] The premature ageing of the Yellow Line led to an extensive refurbishing and structural capacity expansion program that is still being implemented today.

For the next few years, LRT operations ran smoothly. In 2000, however, employees of METRO Inc. held a strike against the LRTA and paralyzed Yellow Line operations from July 25 to August 2, 2000. Because of this, the LRTA did not renew its operating contract with METRO Inc. that expired on July 31, 2000 and assumed all operational responsibility.[2] The year came to a deadly close when at around 12:15 p.m. on December 30, 2000 a bomb—later learned to have been planted by Islamic terrorists—went off in the front coach of a LRT train pulling into Blumentritt station killing 11 and injuring over 60 people in the most devastating of a series of attacks that day now known as the Rizal Day bombings.[58][59]

Construction of the Purple Line began in the 1990s. On April 5, 2003, the first section of the line, from Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao, was opened. The second section, from Araneta Center-Cubao to Legarda, was opened exactly a year later, with the entire line being fully operational by October 29, 2004.[60] During that time, the Yellow Line was modernized. Automated fare collection systems using magnetic stripe plastic tickets were installed; air-conditioned trains added; connections between the Yellow, Purple, and Blue Lines completed.[10] In 2005, the LRTA made a profit of ₱68 million, the first time the agency made a profit since the LRT became operational in 1984.[61]

Future expansion

Plans for expanding the LRT network have been formulated throughout its history, and successive administrations have touted the LRT as one of the keys to relieving Metro Manila of its long-standing traffic problems. Expansion of the LRT is one of the main projects mentioned in a ten-point agenda laid out by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.[62]


A rendering of the possible LRT network after various expansions. The map also shows other parts of the SRTS, such as the Blue and Orange Lines.

Previously it was expected that the MRT would be extended westward to connect with Monumento and create another link between the Yellow and Blue Lines, but this plan was dropped. Instead a 5.71-kilometer (3.55 mi) eastern extension of the Yellow Line traversing EDSA towards North Avenue MRT Station has been adopted. In the future it is envisaged that the termini for the Yellow and Blue Lines will also connect with the terminus of the proposed MRT-7 (see below). Construction of the extension began July 2008 with a target completion date around April or May 2010.[63]

A southern extension of the Yellow Line, known as LRT-6, is planned. The envisioned extension line would have 10 stations over 11.7 kilometers (7.27 mi) ending in Bacoor in the province of Cavite. It would be the first line extending outside the Metro Manila area. An unsolicited bid to build and operate this project from Canada's SNC-Lavalin was rejected by the Philippine government in 2005. The government is working with advisers (International Finance Corporation, White & Case, Halcrow and others) to conduct an open-market invitation to tender for the construction of the extension and a 30-year concession to run it. An additional extension from Bacoor to Imus and from there a further extension to Dasmariñas, both in Cavite, are also being considered.[64][65][66]

There is also a proposal for a 4-kilometer (2.48 mi) eastern extension of the Purple Line from Marikina City, crossing into Cainta in Rizal and finally to Masinag Junction in Antipolo City, also in Rizal. The line could later be extended as far west as Manila North Harbor and as far east as Cogeo in Antipolo.[67] Its initial phase was approved in principle by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),[68] but the actual proposal is pending before the NEDA secretariat.[69]

New lines

MRT-7 is a planned 13-station, 21-kilometer (13.05 mi) line that starts in Quezon City and traverses Commonwealth Avenue, passing through Caloocan City and ending in the city of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan. This line finished the bidding stage and has been approved by the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation and Communications.[70]

MRT-8, or the East Rail Line, is a proposed 48-kilometer (29.83 mi) line crossing through Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna and Rizal. Several tunnel sections between the municipalities of Pililla in Rizal and Santa Cruz in Laguna would be built in the process. Phase I of the line would begin in Santa Mesa in Manila and end in Angono in Rizal, and would consist of 16.8 kilometers (10.44 mi) of elevated track, following the general alignment of Shaw Boulevard and Ortigas Avenue.[71]

See also


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