MRT: Seconds from disaster (UPDATED)

The MRT is a disaster that is waiting to happen. All it takes is one accident or mistake, and you’ll probably have one disaster that might equal or surpass the Wowowee Ultra stampede a year ago.

Take a look at this picture:
disaster1 (1)

(Photo taken using Sony Ericsson P1i, image size reduced)

This scene at North Avenue Station (south bound) always happens during weekday morning rush hour. Picture was taken at around 8:05 AM. The inflow of people peaks between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM, and overflow happens due to a lot of factors. For me, the inefficiency of the MRT as a system is the main culprit. Most train systems operate on a time table, and they should operate like clock-work, otherwise the system will crumble. But that is not the topic of this post.

As I have said, this scenario will lead to a disaster; all it takes is one mistake or one accident. I had labeled four parts in this picture where disaster can happen:


1. Thank Bayani Fernando’s Gwapo project for this. The MMDA has raised EDSA’s sidewalks by several centimeters. So, imagine this number of people packed together, jostling in. Disaster can happen if one person trips because of the high sidewalk. With the pushing that happens, this scenario is the most probable.

2. After you have survived the MMDA sidewalk, half of the station entrance has two steps. Not as high as the MMDA sidewalk, someone can trip here, since at this point the jostling and the pushing is at its worst.

3. This is the most dangerous – a wayward vehicle. Multiple vehicle collision. Highly improbable. I hope.

4. At this point, you are about to enter the second set of stairs (there are three), and here is a bottleneck. Jostling and pushing is evident here, though not as bad as below. Still, just one person tripping, and it is a disaster.


There is actually one more point but I failed to take a picture. This point (pictured above) is at the station platform. Some people, in their eagerness to get in on the coming train, already stand near the very edge of the platform, despite the warnings blaring on the public address system. At rush hour, the platform can be jampacked. And when the train arrives, people are again jostling and pushing to get in. Trust me, if you are near the edge of the platform and the coach door opens, you don’t even have to take a step to get in.

Disaster almost happened one time when one lady tripped as she was getting in. Good thing no one’s got the worst out of it. But it did bring home the point (at least to me) that the MRT is just seconds from disaster (and yes, that is a show at National Geographic). And hopefully, there will never be an episode of that show that will feature the MRT.

29 thoughts on “MRT: Seconds from disaster (UPDATED)

  1. Oh wow. You’re definitely right about this one.

    Unfortunately, in this country, problems like this never get any attention until a major disaster happens. Then the finger pointing starts 😐

    A smart terrorist won’t even have to set off a real bomb to cause serious casualties here. He’ll just have to shout false warnings and watch the people step all over each other.

  2. Hi, Mam Anna, that happens every weekday. One misstep, and Heaven knows what will happen.

    Josh, don’t give people ideas. You might become the first casualty of the Human Security Act.

    Hi, Jhay, good thing you can afford to avoid it. For these people, they cannot.

    Hi, Dhon, di pa naman. Wag naman sana.

    Hi, Arthur, it won’t work. The design was really wrong.

  3. Hi Arbet,

    This is a disaster waiting to happen as you said…

    This should be tackled before anything seriously catastrohpic happens.

    By the way, I like that Mabini quote that you posted… so very true still today in Pinas, isn’t it?

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  6. Arbet,

    Wasn’t a Belgian company responsible for the design, can’t remember the name but was it Schlumberger or something like that?

    They should be called in to re-assess and re-configure the whole design, if the design is the problem.

    I have a feeling that it’s also the passengers’ fault but maybe just too many people and not enough transport system.

  7. Ack. You can’t stay too close to the train while the train is passing by!

    Bernoulli’s principle, people!
    High velocity = low pressure.

    You can very well die.

    Oh but I don’t think our trains run that fast. Oh well.

  8. Hi, Mam Anna, the Belgians supplied the trains. I am not sure about the design though, but it was not well thought out, in hindsight.

    Yes, it can also be the passengers’ fault, but it is a chicken or egg situation. A redesign is impossible because MRT3 is on a build-lease-transfer scheme.

    Hi, Tiffany, when a train approaches the station, it slows down considerably. The danger lies when the train approaches and the people begin jostling for the doors.

  9. I fear the same thing whenever the bag inspection clogs the MRT Magallanes station. Volumes of people are going up while only two guards take care of the inspection. The problem comes when people who step off the escalator find no space to place themselves in. This becomes a real danger to the rest of the people going up the moving escalator: para silang nag-ttreadmill.

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  11. Arbet, last I heard, the MRT management was trying to acquire more trains to ease the congestion. That was last year. I don’t know what came of it. One thing that the management can easily do something about is putting in a QUEING SYSTEM. this part of riding in the MRT is the easiest problem we can solve. kung ang mga barker nga sa terminal ng jeepneys e napapapila ang mga pasaherong sasakay, mga edukadong managers pa kaya ng MRT? nag implement nga ng segregation, yung pilahan naman na mas malalang problema di ginawan ng paraan. eh kahit di magsegregate kung may maayos na pilahan gaganda ang buhay ng mga MRT commuters. pramis.
    marami pa ko ideas, kaya lang hintayin muna natin aksyunan nila itong una kong suggestion. kung gusto nila, kunin pa nila akong consultant for free, di ko lang aayusin ang takbo ng operations nila, pati profitability nila itataas ko pa.
    i see solutions everywhere.

  12. There is actually one more point but I failed to take a picture. This point (pictured above) is at the station platform.

    delikado tumayo sa gilid ng platform habang parating ang tren. eh paano kung may sira-ulong tumulak sa iyo and you fell into the rails? o kung na-off balance ka dahil sa siksikan at jockeying for position at natumba ka sa riles habang parating ang LRT?

    eh di dedbol.

  13. lining up would certainly help…and so is waking up early to beat the rush hour.

    ano’ng oras ba nagbubukas ang mrt? kung minalas, napasarap ng tulog at mahuhuli, puede naman sumakay sa susunod na istasyon. may mga “skipping trains” naman, eh.

    …kaya lang, siyempre, ang karamihan ng late-comers ay nag-iisip: di bale nang makipagsiksikan sa north edsa station wag lang maghintay (sakay ng bus sa matrapik na edsa) makarating sa susunod na istasyon…at isa pa, walang bayad ang makipagsiksikan kaysa sa may karagdagang pasahe patungong quezon ave. o GMA stations…

    sa akin lang, talo talaga pag nahuli ka ng gising.

  14. Hi, Devilsadvc8, the MRT is in the red, getting new cars is impossible, unless we go take out loans again.

    I don’t think queuing up will solve it. It is volume, and the system was not designed to handle that number of people.

    Hi, John, matigas talaga ulo ng Pinoy eh. And don’t give ideas he he. Baka may siraulong gumawa ng kalokohan.

    Hi, Baycas, first train leaves at 5:30 AM.

    Hi, Jeg, thanks!

  15. Arbet, queing will definitely not solve the volume problem. But I tell you, it’ll avert the disasters you foresee better. MRT management has indeed said that a loan was taken out when they ordered the new cars. Want more ideas?
    Hike the fares. Not exorbitantly. Only enough that MRT fares are slightly higher than bus fares. As it is now, riding the MRT is cheaper when your destination is farther. While riding the bus is only cost-effective when you’re going bet a minimum of 2 MRT stops. This will cut down number of passengers.
    Ang sasakay lang eh ung mga nagmamadali talaga.
    Want another idea? Jail errant bus drivers in EDSA. God knows kaya lang tumatrapik ang EDSA dahil sa mga bus. I assure you, once traffic eases in EDSA, you’d see commuters return to riding buses again.
    Want another idea?
    Let them hire me sa MRT management!

  16. Have you seen the Japanese version of the MRT? Man those are packed…well not as unsafe as the one in manila but still jam-packed like sardines. The officers of the transit station had to literally push the people inside the train just to get it going. X__X

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