DOTC: Gov’t to save up to P1B if common station to be built at Edsa-North Avenue

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Monday, June 9, 2014

THE Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is ready to defend its position on the construction issue of the Common Station project for mass railways in Metro Manila after SM Prime Holdings Inc.'s (SMPHI) sued the agency, an official said Monday.

Apart from savings of around P800 million to P1 billion in constructing the Common Station at the Edsa-North Avenue end of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) system, it will also work to the benefit of more riders since the Quezon City government is developing the North Triangle area as a new central business district, DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal.

"A crucial feature in transportation development is intermodality. Commuters should not have to walk long distances to transfer from one mode of transport to another. Our policy is to promote traveling convenience and efficiency for commuters, which is why we have chosen the end of the MRT-3 line as Common Station’s location," he said.

The Common Station will connect three urban transit lines: the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1), the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3), and the future MRT-7, which will run from the Common Station to Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue.

SMPHI sued the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) last week, and is asking the court to stop the government agencies from proceeding with this project. SMPHI cites its 2009 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the LRTA, which it claims binds government to build the Common Station in front of the SM City North Edsa mall.

SMPHI also argues that the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) approved such a location during the previous administration, or on July 7, 2009. In exchange, SMPHI paid LRTA P200 million as naming rights.

"First of all, the Neda approval that SMPHI is referring to expired in 2011. The 2013 Neda approval, which is in effect, allows the Common Station to be built in the more advantageous location at MRT-3. Secondly, SMPHI was publicly quoted through its president in 2013 as saying that it does not mind where the Common Station is built, as long as it can exercise its alleged naming rights," Sagcal said.

"At the end of the day, it is the interest of commuters and the general public that matter to us at the DOTC. What is important is that the riders of our LRT and MRT systems enjoy convenient, intermodal transfers. This is also why it is only the Supreme Court can stop infrastructure projects of the government – to protect the public from attempts of those who have different interests from succeeding, unless justified at the highest level of the judiciary," he added.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City set to hear petition of SMPHI on Tuesday. (SDR/Sunnex)

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