It’s been a great privilege for me to be the part of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Taskforce Group during their inspection of all the Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations. I was supposed to go to go work with one of the Young Voices members named Daisy last February 10, 2011. But when came near the exit area of the Cubao LRT station, I was called by Architect Rizal Morales- Senior Transport Development Officer / DOTC Focal person to OP-NCDA and Asst. –Head, DOTC task Force on Accessibility. He asked me to join in their operation on inspecting all the LRT stations from LINE 1 to LINE 2. Since Young Voices is also doing an accessibility audit of some places and some transportation facilities, and also as the part of our activity, I agreed to accompany the DOTC Taskforce. And before the operations started, Mr. Rizal divided the group of task force into three (3) wherein each group will be in-charge in elevators, facilities, and right measurements of the ramps, CR, etc.
As the operation started, we first went to LRT Santolan station in LINE 2. We checked if all the elevators there are working, also if the elevators have handrails and if the handrails’ measurement is easy for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to hold. We also checked the measurement of wheelchair ramps there in order to determine the total vertical (up and down) that PWDs need to overcome in using these ramps. And also, if all the guards are assisting PWDs passengers when riding the train. As we inspected and as a regular passenger of the LRT Santolan station, I can attest that the facilities there are, nice, they have perfect ramps for PWDs. The LRT Santolan station has working elevators and also the guards are always assisting us not only since we are with the DOTC Taskforce but as we experienced in everyday riding in the said station. Then our next move was in the Doroteo Jose station in LINE 1. Before, I’ve been in that station and as we observed Last February 10, 2011 the elevators are still not working, so the guard assisted us down the escalator. We are worried because some of the guards don’t know how to carry or assists PWDs especially when riding the escalators. Because there is a tendency for us to fall down the escalators if the guards doesn’t know how to assist or carry PWDs.
Architect Rizal assured that all the guards even the janitors in all LRT station will be having seminars / training on how to assists and carry PWD passengers.
The LRT train in LINE 1 was very high from the platform area; if the PWD in wheelchairs are going to ride we need two (2) or three (3) guards to lift us up inside the train. One of the DOTC Taskforce suggested / proposed to put detachable ramps in the train so that it would be easy to the guard to push us up inside the train and also even only one guard can do that.
Mr. Rodrigo P. Bulario- LRTA Project Manager in LINE 1 and LINE 2, said that they are starting to do the changes in some stations in LINE 1. Those stations which don’t have elevators like in Monumento will soon to have elevators by July this year. He said also that they just doing the renovations of changes in LRT stations, step- by- step. He brought us to the new station in Roosevelt wherein the said station will soon have an extension station of MRT 3 and 7 for passengers going to North and Bulacan. As we observed in the Roosevelt station it was very nice and clean working elevators, separate CR for PWDs and non-disabled passengers, it also has a nice CR for PWDs. Even the ramps when you go Walter Mart Mall is perfect for PWDs, aside from the other ramp which was according to Mr. Bulario was not the station’s property but still he did the ramp there just to be easy for PWDs to go to Walter Mart, but as I observed the height of the ramps is not enough for PWDs, so Mr. Bulario said that he will gonna change it and fix the right height of the ramp.
As we went to the Walter Mart Mall to have our lunch, we observed that the taxi lane area in front of the mall doesn’t have ramp. When one of the DOTC Taskforce also noticed it, he called the guard and asked why there is no ramp there. The guard said that the other ramp is in there but, Mr. Rizal asked how could PWDs go to the other ramp if there is no ramp on the other side? Mr. Rizal asked the guard to call the administrator to explain to him why. Then the guard called the administrator and said the thing happened that there are DOTC Taskforce who are inspecting in accessibility for PWDs. Mr. Rizal said to the guard that we are in the MAX’s Restaurant whenever the administrator comes, just tell him that he should go to the Max’s Restaurant to talk to him.
Then we started lunch, until we finished eating and preparing for leaving the Restaurant, the administrator came Mr. Jerico “Jeck” C. Buñing- Assistant Vice President for Mall Operations, Walter Mart. So Mr. Rizal and Mr. Buñing talked to each other regarding the said issue. Mr. Rizal also showed the BP 344 law for accessibility and told him that they should put ramps there for PWDs, he also said that we will go back to check again if there are changes or not. I also mentioned to the administrator that the other ramp was very high and slippery for wheelchairs, Mr. Buñing said that it was a right measurement, but when one of the DOTC Taskforce measured the height of the ramps, he noticed and proved that it was slightly high than the normal ramp for PWDs.
And the operation was a success, thanks to the DOTC Taskforce group led by Architect Rizal Morales. Mr. Rizal and Mr. BUñing agreed for the possible changes of the noticed issues in terms of accessibility law.
For the whole day inspection audit, I found out that there were 32 elevators built in 32 LRT stations in LINE 1 and LINE 2, but out of 32 elevators only 9 were still working and 23 were defective. Imagine there were more defective elevators than the working elevators. Since the LRT is being operated by the government, I am hoping for the sake of all PWD Sector, senior citizens and pregnant women and all other regular passengers of LRT that there will be more changes in all LRT stations from facilities, CR, escalators, elevators, ramps, and even the guards and all other staff of LRTA (LINE 1 & 2) that can be possibly more comfortable for all the passengers.