Manila Light Rail Transit System

Manila Light Rail Transit System

Manila Light Rail Transit System
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Termini Baclaran (Yellow Line), Santolan (Purple Line)
Roosevelt (Yellow Line, Recto (Purple Line)
Stations 31
Services 2
Daily ridership 600,000 (2011)
Opened December 1, 1984
Owner Light Rail Transit Authority
Operator(s) Light Rail Transit Authority
Rolling stock Yellow Line:
Hyundai Precision/Adtranz
Kinki Sharyo/Nippon Sharyo

Purple Line:
Hyundai Precision
Line length Over 31 km (19 mi);
34.5 km (21.4 mi) upon completion of current extension
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead line
Operating speed 60 km/h

The Manila Light Rail Transit System, popularly known as the LRT, is a metropolitan rail system serving the Metro Manila area in the Philippines. Although referred to as a light rail system because it originally used light rail vehicles, it has many characteristics of a rapid transit (metro) system, such as high passenger throughput and exclusive right-of-way. 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-3, 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 serves 579,000 passengers each day. Its 31 stations along over 31 kilometers (19 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 original LRT Line 1 was built as a no-frills means of public transport and lacks some features and comforts, but the new LRT Line 2 has been built with additional standards and criteria in mind like barrier-free access. Security guards at each station conduct inspections and provide assistance. 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 and rapid urbanization. The network's expansion is set on tackling this problem.



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
System map of the Manila LRT (current as of October 22, 2010)

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 is aligned in a general north–south direction along over 17.2 kilometers (10.7 mi) of fully elevated track. From Monumento it runs south above the hustle and bustle of Rizal and Taft Avenues along grade-separated concrete viaducts allowing exclusive right-of-way before ending in Baclaran.[1][2] A four-station east–west extension along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue that will connect Monumento to the North Avenue MRT Station is currently under construction. Including the extension's two recently-opened stations, Balintawak and Roosevelt, the Yellow Line has twenty stations.[3][4] 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. Commencing in Recto, the line follows a corridor defined by C.M. Recto and Legarda Avenues, Ramon Magsaysay and Aurora Boulevards, and the Marikina-Infanta Highway before reaching the other end of the line at Santolan.[5] 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, and 170,000 ride the Purple Line.[6][7] During peak hours, the Yellow Line fields 24 trains; the time interval between the departure of one and the arrival of another, called headway, is a minimum of 3 minutes. The Purple Line runs 12 trains with a minimum headway of 5 minutes.[8] With the proper upgrades, the Yellow Line is designed to potentially run with headway as low as 1.5 minutes.[9] The Purple Line can run with headway as low as 2 minutes with throughput of up to 60,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd).[10]

In conjunction with the MRT—also known as the Blue Line, a similar but separate metro rail system 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.[11] 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.[12] Blumentritt LRT Station meanwhile is immediately above its PNR counterpart.

Baclaran, Central Terminal, and Monumento are the Yellow Line's three terminal stations; Recto, Araneta Center-Cubao, and Santolan are the terminal stations on the Purple Line. All of them 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 the Pasay Depot at LRTA headquarters in Pasay City, near Baclaran station, while the Purple Line uses the Santolan Depot built by Sumitomo in Pasig City.[1][5][10][13]

The LRT is open every day of the year from 5:00 am PST (UTC+8) until 10:00 pm on weekdays, and from 5:00 am until 9:30 pm on weekends, except when changes have been announced. Notice of special schedules is given through press releases, via the public address system in every station, and on the LRTA website.[14]

 LRT Line 1 & LRT Line 2
Unknown BSicon "uexCONTg violet"
Planned extension to Antipolo, Rizal
(planned interchange with MRT)   North Avenue
Urban railway
Unknown BSicon "uexhKBHFa" + Unknown BSicon "exINTa yellow"
Unknown BSicon "hKBHFa violet" + Unknown BSicon "xKBFa violet"
Unknown BSicon "hKBHFxa yellow" Unknown BSicon "WBRÜCKE violet"
Crossing above Marikina River
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet" + Unknown BSicon "tBHF violet"
Unknown BSicon "ehBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "hINT violet" Urban railway
Araneta Center-Cubao   (interchange with MRT)
5th Avenue
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
Betty Go-Belmonte
R. Papa
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
Abad Santos
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
J. Ruiz
(connection to PNR)   Blumentritt
National railway Unknown BSicon "hINT yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
V. Mapa
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" Unknown BSicon "uhBHF violet"
(walkway access to Line 2)   Doroteo Jose
Urban railway
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "hKBHFl violet" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "hSTRrf violet"
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Crossing above Pasig River
Unknown BSicon "WBRÜCKE yellow"
Central Terminal
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
United Nations
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Pedro Gil
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Quirino Avenue
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Vito Cruz
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Gil Puyat
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
Unknown BSicon "hBHF yellow"
(walkway access to MRT)   EDSA
Urban railway Unknown BSicon "hINT yellow"
Unknown BSicon "uhKBHFe" + Unknown BSicon "KBHFxe yellow"
Planned southern extension to Bacoor, Cavite
Unknown BSicon "exCONTf yellow"


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.
The concourse and platform areas of most 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.
Purple line platforms are located on a separate level at Purple Line stations.

With the exception of Katipunan (which is underground), the LRT's 31 stations are elevated.[1][3][5] 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.[15] The boarding platforms measure 100 meters (328 ft 1 in) long and 3.5 meters (11 ft 6 in) wide.[2] Baclaran, Central Terminal, Carriedo, Balintawak, Roosevelt and North Avenue stations on the Yellow Line, 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.

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.[16] Terminal stations also have a public relations office.[17] Stores and ATMs are usually found at street level outside the station, although there are instances where they can be found within the concourse.[10] Some stations, such as Monumento, Libertad and Araneta Center-Cubao, are directly connected to shopping malls.[12] Purple Line stations have two restrooms, but Yellow Line restrooms have been the subject of criticism not only because of the provisioning of a single washroom at each station expected to serve all passengers (whether male, female, disabled or otherwise), but also because of the impression that the lavatories are poorly maintained and unsanitary.[18]

Originally, the Yellow Line was not built with accessibility in mind. This is reflected in the Yellow Line's lack of barrier-free facilities such as escalators and elevators. It is also inconvenient in other ways: for one, because of the use of side platforms, passengers wishing to access the other platform for the train bound in the opposite direction at single-level Yellow Line stations need to exit the station (and by extension, the system) and pay a new fare. The newer Purple Line, unlike its counterpart, is designed to be barrier-free and allows seamless transfer between platforms. Built by a joint venture between Hanjin and Itochu, LRT Line 2 stations have wheelchair ramps, braille markings, and pathfinding embossed flooring leading to and from the boarding platforms in addition to escalators and elevators.[5][10][19]

In cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, copies of the Inquirer Libre—a free, tabloid-size, Tagalog version of the Inquirer broadsheet—are available at selected LRT stations from 6:00 am until the supply runs out.[17]

Rolling stock

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 railway cars were made either in Belgium by ACEC, South Korea by Hyundai Precision and Adtranz (ACEC and Adtranz are now part of Bombardier Transportation while Hyundai Precision's Railway, Defense, and Plant Division was separated and renamed and is now Hyundai Rotem),[citation needed] or Japan by Kinki Sharyo and Nippon Sharyo.[5][20][21] 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 that have higher passenger capacity and maximum speed.[22] All four types of rolling stock are powered by electricity supplied through overhead wires.

Of the two LRT systems, Line 2 has been using wrap advertising in its rolling stock. Line 1 uses wrap advertising as well exclusively for their 2nd-Generation trains. LRT-1 ticket turnstiles have wrap ads as well.

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 (railway cars 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 / Nippon Sharyo (1200) trains.[23][24] There are 139 railway cars grouped into 40 trains serving the line: 63 of these are first-generation cars, 28 second-generation, and 48 third-generation. One train car (1037) was severely damaged in the Rizal Day bombings and was subsequently decommissioned.[8] The maximum speed of these cars is 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph).[20][21]

The Yellow Line fleet is being modernized to cope with increasing numbers of passengers. In the initial phase of its capacity expansion program completed in 1999, the line's seven four-car second-generation trains were commissioned providing an increased train capacity of 1,350 passengers while the original two-car trains capable of holding 748 passengers were transformed into three-car trains with room for 1,122.[23]

The acquisition marked the introduction of the first air-conditioned trains to the line. Earlier Yellow Line rolling stock was notorious for its lack of air conditioning, relying instead on forced-air roof ventilation for cooling.[25] Unfortunately, this resulted in hot and stuffy rides. The problem was addressed more fully after a preparatory rehabilitation program completed in 2001 allowed the installation of air conditioners to the older rolling stock.[26] By June 2004, all Yellow Line trains had air conditioning.[27][28]

Rolling stock First-generation First-generation (Refurbished) Second-generation Third-generation
Images First Generation 3-car train (2004) Second Generation (1999) Third Generation (2007)
Year 1984 refurbished in 2004 1999 2007
Car type 8-axle (4 bogie) rigid body 8-axle (4 bogie) rigid body 6-axle (3 bogie) rigid body 6-axle (3 bogie) rigid body
Car size 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide; 29.28 m (96.1 ft) long 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide; 29.28 m (96.1 ft) long 2.59 m (8 ft 6 in) wide; 26–26.5 m (85–87 ft) long 2.59 m (8 ft 6 in) wide; 26–26.5 m (85–87 ft) long
Train length 59.59 m or 195.5 ft (2-car) 89.37 m or 293.2 ft (3-car) 105.7 m or 347 ft (4-car) 105.7 m or 347 ft (4-car)
Articulation Double Double Single Single
Capacity 748 passengers 1,122 passengers 1,350 passengers 1,350 passengers
Doors Plug-type; 5-doors/side Plug-type; 5-doors/side Interior sliding type; 4-doors/side Interior sliding type; 4-doors/side
Traction system DC induction mono-motor DC induction mono-motor AC induction mono-motor AC induction mono-motor
Traction power 750 V DC OCS; pantograph power connection 750 V DC OCS; pantograph power connection 750 V DC OCS; pantograph power connection 750 V DC OCS; pantograph power connection
Carbody shell BI sheet BI sheet Stainless steel Stainless steel
Ventilation Forced ventilation; 12 units/car Air-conditioned; roof-mounted duct type; 5 units/car Air-conditioned; roof-mounted duct type; 2 units/car Air-conditioned; roof-mounted duct type; 2 units/car
Status Refurbished In Service Under Repairs In Service
Source: LRTA[23][28]

As part of the second phase of expansion on the Yellow Line, 12 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 have boosted the capacity of the line from 27,000 to 40,000 passengers per hour per direction.[24][29][30]

Purple Line

The Purple Line fleet runs eighteen heavy rail four-car trains with lightweight stainless carbodies and 1,500 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 other.[31] Each train measures 3.2 meters (10 ft 6 in) wide and 92.6 meters (303 ft 10 in) long allowing a capacity of 1,628 passengers: 232 seated and 1,396 standing.[5] Twenty 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.[32][33] Special open spaces and seats are designated for wheelchair users and elderly passengers, and automatic next station announcements are made for the convenience of passengers, especially for the blind.[5][19]

Safety and security

The LRT has always presented itself as a safe system to travel on, and despite some incidents a World Bank paper prepared by Halcrow deemed the running of metro rail transit operations overall as "good".[34] Safety notices in both English and Tagalog are a common sight at LRT stations and inside LRT trains. Security guards with megaphones can be seen at boarding areas asking crowds to move back from the warning tiles at the edge of platforms to avoid falling onto the tracks.[8] In the event of emergencies or unexpected events aboard the LRT, alerts are used to inform passengers about the current state of LRT operations. The LRTA uses three alerts: Codes Blue, Yellow, and Red.

Alert Indication
Code Blue Increased interval time between train arrivals
Code Yellow Slight delay in the departure and arrival of trains from stations
Code Red Temporary suspension of all LRT services due to technical problems

Smoking, previously banned only at station platforms and inside trains, has been banned at station concourse areas since June 24, 2008.[35] Hazardous chemicals, such as paint and gasoline, as well as sharp pointed objects that could be used as weapons, are forbidden.[36] 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.[37][38] Those under the influence of alcohol may be denied entry into the stations.[36]

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,[39] 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.[5] To better prepare for and improve response to any adverse incidents, drills simulating terror attacks and earthquakes have been conducted.[8][40] 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.[41] Since May 1, 2007, the LRTA has enforced a policy against making false bomb threats, a policy already enforced at airports nationwide. Those who make such threats can face penalties in violation of Presidential Decree No. 1727, as well as face legal action.[42] 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 coach of Yellow Line trains have been designated for females only.[17]


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.[43][44] Fares are distance-based, ranging from 12 to 20 Philippine pesos (₱), or about 29 to 47 U.S. cents (at US$1 = ₱42 as of September 2011), depending on the number of stations traveled to reach the destination.[45][46] Unlike other transportation systems, in which transfer to another line occurs within a station's paid area, passengers have to exit and then pay a new fare for the line they are 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, ₱15, or ₱20 depending on the number of stations traveled or whether the newly opened Balintawak or Roosevelt station is part of their trip. Stored value tickets and Flash Passes are charged on a more finely graduated basis with fares ranging from ₱12 to ₱19.[45][47] The Purple Line, on the other hand, has only one fare structure. Passengers are charged ₱12 for the first three stations, ₱13 for a journey of four to six stations, ₱14 for seven to nine stations and ₱15 for a trip along the entire line.[46]

Yellow Line
Fares excluding those to and from Balintawak or Roosevelt Fares to and from Balintawak or Roosevelt
Distance (no. of stations) 1–4 5–8 9–12 13–17 1–2 3–4 5–7 8–10 11–13 14–16 17–18
Single journey ticket fare (₱) 12 15 15 15 15 15 15 20 20 20 20
Stored value ticket fare (₱) 12 13 14 15 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Purple Line
Distance (no. of stations) 1–3 4–6 7–9 10
Single journey 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 achieved on September 9, 2001.[48] 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 from ticket booths manned by station agents; on the Purple Line they can also be procured from ticket machines.[5]

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!" (My Beloved Philippines).
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.[46] Senior citizens and disabled passengers can receive fare discounts as mandated by law. Tickets would normally bear a picture of the incumbent president, though some ticket designs have done away with this practice.

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 one line 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.[44] 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.[46]

Tickets are used both to enter and exit the paid area of the LRT. A ticket inserted into a fare gate at the station of origin is processed and then ejected allowing a passenger through the turnstile. The ejected ticket is then retrieved while passing through so that it can be used at the exit turnstile at the destination station 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.[15]

Flash Pass

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

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.[49][50] In a transitional move towards such a unified ticketing system, the Flash Pass was implemented on April 19, 2004, as a stopgap measure.[51] However, plans for a unified ticketing system using smart cards have languished,[52] 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.

The pass consists of two parts: the Flash Pass card and the Flash Pass coupon.[53] 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 has 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.[53] The card and coupon are used by showing them to a security guard at an opening along the fare gates, who after checking their validity allows the holder to pass through.[51]


Steam-powered tranvia that served Malabon and Tondo from 1888 to 1898.

The LRT's roots date back to 1878, when an official from Spain's Department of Public Works for the Philippines submitted a proposal for a Manila streetcar system. The system proposed was a five-line network emanating from Plaza San Gabriel in Binondo, running to Intramuros, Malate, Malacañang Palace, Sampaloc and Tondo. The project was approved and in 1882, Spanish businessman Jacobo Zobel de Zangroniz, Spanish engineer Luciano M. Bremon, and Spanish banker Adolfo Bayo, founded the Compañia de los Tranvias de Filipinas to operate the concession granted by the Spanish colonial government. The Malacañang line was later replaced with a line linking Manila to Malabon, and construction began in 1885. Four German-made steam-operated locomotives and eight coaches for nine passengers each, composed the initial assets of the company. The Manila-Malabon line was the first line of the new system to be finished, opening to the public on October 20, 1888, with the rest of the network opening in 1889.[54] From the beginning it proved to be a very popular line, with services originating from Tondo as early as 5:30 a.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m., while trips from Malabon were from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., every hour on the hour in the mornings, and every half hour beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon.[55]

With the American takeover of the Philippines, the Philippine Commission allowed the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (Meralco) to take over the properties of the Compañia de los Tranvias de Filipinas,[56] with the first of twelve mandated electric tranvia (tram) lines operated by Meralco opening in Manila in 1905.[57] At the end of the first year around 63 kilometers (39 mi) of track had been laid.[58] A five-year reconstruction program was initiated in 1920, and by 1924, 170 cars serviced many parts of the city and its outskirts.[58] Although it was an efficient system for the city's 220,000 inhabitants, by the 1930s the streetcar network had stopped expanding.[57][58][59]

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

The system was closed during World War II. 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.[57] 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.[60] The monorail's feasibility was still being evaluated when the government asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to conduct a separate transport study.[59] Prepared 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.[59] After further examination, many recommendations were adopted; however, none of them involved rapid transit and the monorail was never built. PMTS' franchise subsequently expired in 1974.[61]

Another study was performed between 1976 and 1977, this time by Freeman Fox and Associates and funded by the World Bank. It originally suggested a street-level railway, but its recommendations were revised by the newly-formed Ministry of Transportation and Communications (now the DOTC). The ministry instead called for an elevated system because of the city's many intersections.[57] However, the revisions increased the price of the project from ₱1.5 billion to ₱2 billion. A supplementary study was conducted and 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

President Ferdinand Marcos created the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) on July 12, 1980, by virtue of Executive Order No. 603[62] 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.).[20] 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).[20][63] 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 the first year of operation, despite a projected ₱365 million in gross revenue, losses of ₱216 million were thought likely.[59]

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.[59] 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 the first half of the Yellow Line, from Baclaran to Central Terminal, was opened on December 1, 1984. The second half, from Central Terminal to Monumento, was opened on May 12, 1985.[1]

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

Overcrowding and poor maintenance 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 slow to a crawl to avoid further damage to the support beams below as cracks reportedly began to appear.[57] The premature ageing of the Yellow Line led to an extensive refurbishing and structural capacity expansion program.

For the next few years LRT operations ran smoothly. In 2000, however, employees of METRO Inc. went on strike, paralyzing Yellow Line operations from July 25 to August 2, 2000. Consequently, the LRTA did not renew its operating contract with METRO Inc. that expired on July 31, 2000, and assumed all operational responsibility.[1] At around 12:15 pm 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.[64][65]

Construction of the Purple Line began in the 1990s, and the first section of the line, from Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao, was opened on April 5, 2003. 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.[66] During that time the Yellow Line was modernized. Automated fare collection systems using magnetic stripe plastic tickets were installed; air-conditioned trains added; pedestrian walkways between the Yellow, Purple, and Blue Lines completed.[12] 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.[67]

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.[68] Expansion of the LRT was one of the main projects mentioned in a ten-point agenda laid out by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005.[69]


Color-coded lines on an outline map illustrating relative positions of existing and planned routes as described in the text
A rendering of the planned LRT network after various expansions. The map also shows other parts of the SRTS, such as the Blue, Green, and Orange Lines.

Originally proposed as a Blue Line extension,[70] a 5.71-kilometer (3.55 mi) eastern extension of the Yellow Line traversing EDSA towards North Avenue MRT Station is currently under construction. 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 the third quarter of 2011.[71]

A southern extension of the Yellow Line, also known as LRT-6, is planned. The envisioned line would have 10 stations over 11.7 kilometers (7.3 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 City, both in Cavite, are also being considered.[72][73][74]

The LRTA is currently conducting studies on the feasibility of a 6.2-kilometer (3.9 mi), four-station Yellow Line spur from Baclaran towards Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, with a projected daily capacity of 40,000 passengers. Funding for the project could be sourced from either official development assistance or a public-private partnership.[75]

There is also a proposal for a 4-kilometer (2.5 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.[76] Its initial phase was approved in principle by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),[77] but the actual proposal is pending before the NEDA secretariat.[78]

New lines

MRT-7 is a planned 13-station, 21-kilometer (13 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.[79] As of August 2010 the MRT-7 project is under review due to various concerns from several local governments where the rail project is proposed to run through, and may undergo major changes from the original.

MRT-8, or the East Rail Line, is a proposed 48-kilometer (30 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 (10.4 mi) of elevated track, following the general alignment of Shaw Boulevard and Ortigas Avenue.[80]

Transfer of line operations

DOTC Undersecretary for Public Information Dante Velasco has unveiled a study being conducted by the DOTC looking at the possibility of transferring operations of Line 3 (MRT 3) from Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) to LRTA thus uniting Lines 1, 2,and 3 under one operator to improve maintenance costs and to form a more integrated transportation system. According to DOTC Undersecretary For Rails Glicerio Sicat, the transfer is set by the government in June 2011. [81]

As of January 13, 2011, Light Rail Transit Authority Chief Rafael S. Rodriguez took over as officer-in-charge of MRT-3 in preparation for the integration of operations of Yellow, Purple, and Blue Lines. [82]

See also


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