Dear Mar Roxas

*Correction -- Cubao, NOT Katipunan station

Less than a week ago I discovered that ALL SIX coin machines at the  Cubao LRT station are BROKEN. As you can see by my tweet above, I was pissed off.

After a quick search online the most recent articles about the LRT/MRT were:

1) The carriages are getting a ‘make over’ with green, blue and yellow paint.

2) The LRT tickets will be reproduced to no longer bear the face of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), but the logo of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) instead.

3) Potential investors from Manny Pangilinan’s group.

But what about the coin machines?

Given GMA’s political turmoil I know that angsty Filipinos would rather not see her face on their way to work or school, but what’s the point of new cards when the machines that produce them don’t even work?

Although I believe expansion is necessary, most especially for the MRT rather than the LRT, but what about the coin machines? No one talks about the coin machines, just the long lines, rates, and overcrowded carriages.

According to an interesting Broken Window Theory, introduced by social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling in 1982, if the broken windows of a building are not repaired instantly, then there’s a greater tendency for vandals to break more windows.

While it’s used mostly by criminologists and has launched various anti-crime campaigns in the United States as well as debate, it’s a simple lesson at it’s core: fix the small problems before they escalate into bigger ones. Before only one or two machines were broken, now all of them are and they are an eyesore.

As Kelling and Wilson put it in The Atlantic, ”one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”

Now that all the machines are broken, what does this signal?

So I’m posting an abridged version of an angsty letter to Mar Roxas that I wrote for my political science class to vent my frustrations. We had to address a problem that personally affects us.

What’s funny is that a few days after the submission I saw a guard effectively implementing crowd control and strict commuting etiquette that I proposed in my letter.

Props to this security guard. He's making people line up for the train at Cubao. Finally! Commuting etiquette! Now, why can't it always be this orderly? See, despite the massive crowd, it can be done! (Mobile upload on Feb.4)

Improving infrastructure may be the problem of the government to address, but commuting etiquette begins with you, me and the billion other Filipinos shoving and pushing inside the train.  Thanks kuya for showing us it can be done!


Dear Secretary Manuel Roxas II,

I am writing to you as a frustrated commuter who one day envisions a Manila as a bustling metropolis with an efficient transportation system to take both Filipinos and foreigners around the city with ease.

The purpose behind the infrastructure development of the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit Line (LRT) is to decongest the roads of Manila, particularly EDSA, and provide an alternative source of transportation for the mass of Filipino workers on their way to and back from work.

However, whatever benefit is gained from affordability and practicality is lost in the derailing quality of service, most especially in recent years. The city is still as congested as before, not only on the roads but unfortunately within the MRT/LRT as well.

In the 12 years since the MRT opened in 1999, I have been an active commuter since 2008. In those four years of commuting via MRT and LRT  I didn’t have much to complain about, at least not until now.

The basic services that made commuting a smooth ride back then are slowly becoming non-existent now. While you blame the frequent break down and failure to serve over a million passengers in Metro Manila on being over capacity, I blame it on the negligence of the government, particularly the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC).

If the MRT can only accommodate 350,000 passengers, at what point in the last couple of years did the DoTC not see the 150,000 surplus of commuters amounting to an overwhelming 500,000 pax? How come this problem was not addressed immediately before it worsened to an excuse that’s quickly running out of water?

Other problems:

  • Coin machines that don’t function
  • Coin machines that sit as dead weight and an eye sore
  • Coin machines with no change
  • Doesn’t accept  2009, 2010 and 2011 coins

2 thoughts on “Dear Mar Roxas

  1. commuters complain that the trains are run down, yet are not amenable to a fare hike.
    geez. almost half the budget of the dotc specific to the mrt is used to subsidize the fare. the subsidy is 3 times more what commuters pay.

    • True, but that’s because most commuters can’t afford the increase so they don’t want to be amenable. They can’t see or understand where that money is going, which is why I think the efforts of the DoT is also misunderstood and constantly scrutinized for.

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