Metro Manila Subway Project: A reality within 5 years

By: Jimbo Gulle March 03, 2024

Filipinos, especially in the National Capital Region, can look forward to using a modern underground train system in five years’ time, as construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) Phase 1 has hit 40 percent completion and is proceeding apace.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) shared the news during the site inspection of the MMSP in late February, led by Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Finance Secretary Ralph Recto, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative to the Philippines Takema Sakamoto.

"We have shown to Secretary Ralph Recto the ongoing development and briefing on what the project is all about, and with the support of JICA we are implementing this project on time for completion in 2029," said Bautista.

With a budget of P488.5 billion, the underground mass transport system is expected to cut travel time from Valenzuela City in northern Metro Manila to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the south from 1.5 hours to just 35 minutes, the DOF stated.

The Metro Manila subway, considered the third largest project under the Marcos administration’s Build Better More program, can accommodate 519,000 passengers each day once fully operational, the DOF added.

Recto said the subway will not only improve convenience and speed but also generate approximately P2.5 billion in daily economic benefits.

The subway's direct economic benefits, totaling P930.26 billion annually, will be a result of reduced vehicle costs, shorter travel times, and decreased carbon emissions.

Stretching across 33 kilometers, the Metro Manila subway will feature 17 stations connecting Valenzuela to Parañaque City, with a designated stop at NAIA Terminal 3.

The interest rates for both the first and second tranches of the loan are set at 0.10 percent per year for non-consulting services and 0.01 percent per year for consulting services, the DOF statement read.

Each of the loan has a maturity period of 40 years, which includes a 12-year grace period for the first tranche and a 13-year grace period for the second tranche.

The 17-station subway, running from Valenzuela to NAIA, is expected to cost about P355.6 billion and will cut travel time from one hour to 30 minutes.

Based on a JICA study, the travel congestion in Metro Manila cost the economy over P3.5 billion per day or P1.27 trillion every year.


Operations and maintenance

Bautista meanwhile told reporters they are currently working on the operations and maintenance of the Metro Manila subway.

“We are now on the process of procuring O&M for MRT-3, North-South Commuter Railway, and Metro Manila subway,” Bautista said.

“We’re working with a transaction adviser so that they can advise us on the parameters, terms and conditions that will be followed by the possible concessionaire,” he added.

The DOTr chief did not say what entities will acquire the O&M of the project but said he hopes “to have something” before the end of the year.

The MMSP is currently being financed by two active loan agreements and is expected to enter into a third tranche of loan worth ¥150 billion by March 2024.

The project includes the construction of a deport and a 33-kilometer railway line made up of 17 stations that will connect Valenzuela City to Pasay City with a spur line to Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City.


Completion by 2029

Bautista said that the DOTr is currently in discussion with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Finance (DOF) for review of draft documents pertaining to the loan deal provided by JICA and the government of Japan.

"With the support of JICA, we are implementing this project on time for completion in 2029," Bautista said.

Recto has also expressed support to ensure the project is completed on time, while the DOTr addresses the right-of-way issues.

The MMSP only resumed its actual construction in January 2023 following the right-of-way issues after some property owners refused to surrender their land to the state.

"The Department of Finance is fully committed to securing the funding for this project," said Recto. "We aim to finalize the loan agreement for the 3rd tranche of financing by March 2024."

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