Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2

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MRT Line 2
MRT-2 Train Santolan 1.jpg
Santolan Station platform area
Owner Light Rail Transit Authority
Locale Manila, Philippines
Number of lines 1[1]
Number of stations 11[1]
Daily ridership 195,700 (2013 average)
269,271 (2012 record)[2]
Website MRT-2
Began operation April 5, 2003[1]
Operator(s) Light Rail Transit Authority
Number of vehicles 72 Hyundai Rotem EMUs
Train length 4 cars[1]
Headway 5–10 minutes
System length 13.8 km (8.6 mi)[1]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead line
Top speed 60–80 km/h (37–50 mph)

The Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2 (MRT-2) is a rapid transit line in Metro Manila in the Philippines. It is the third rapid transit line in Metro Manila when it started operation in 2003, and the second line of the Manila Light Rail Transit System after the LRT-1. The rail system forms part of the Metro Manila's rail transport infrastructure, which also includes the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (composed of the single line MRT-3) and the Metro Commuter Line of the Philippine National Railways. MRT-2 line is colored purple (old) and blue (new) on railway maps of the metropolitan area.

The eleven-station, 13.8-kilometer (8.6 mi) line generally runs in the east-west direction of the Metro area, to-and-fro Santa Cruz in central Manila, passing through the other areas of Manila then San Juan, Quezon City, Marikina and Pasig. Its track runs above (below or along on some) segments of Recto Avenue, Legarda Street, Magsaysay Boulevard, Aurora Boulevard, and Marcos Highway.[1]

The MRT-2 is operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with Official Development Assistance from Japan. Although informally referred to as LRT-2 being operated by the LRTA, the line, based on official documents by LRTA since its formal inception and construction, is formally known as the MRT-2 as it uses heavy rail railroad cars to accommodate more passengers. While originally intended as a light rail line, demand for a train line on EDSA, the circumferential road of the metropolis, delayed the project. It was upgraded to a heavy rail line after the lessons learned from the EDSA MRT-3 that opened in 1999.

The ridership on the current coverage of the line, though, is way under its maximum capacity. Future expansion of the system eastward to the nearby Cainta and Antipolo City in Rizal Province and westward to the busy districts of Divisoria and North Harbor in Manila is expected to increase the number of commuters using the railway line.

The MRT-2 network[edit]

MRT-2 Train approaching Katipunan Station.

The line serves 11 stations on 13.8 kilometers (8.6 mi) of line.[1] The rails are mostly elevated and erected either over or along the roads covered, with sections below ground before and after the Katipunan Station, the only underground station of the LRTA System. The western terminus of the line is on Recto Station (Recto on the map) on Recto Avenue between Rizal Avenue and Quezon Boulevard. The eastern terminus of the line is the Santolan Station (Santolan on the map) along Marcos Highway near Barangay Santolan of Pasig. The rail line serves the cities that Radial Road 6 (Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda Street and Recto Avenue) passes through: Manila, San Juan, Quezon City, and Marikina City.

Three stations currently serves as interchanges between lines operated by the PNR, LRTA, and MRTC. Pureza Station is near the Santa Mesa Station of the PNR; Araneta Center-Cubao is connected by a covered walkway to its namesake station of the MRT-3; and Recto Station is connected via covered walkway to the Doroteo Jose Station of the LRT-1.

Schedule of operation[edit]

The MRT-2 runs from 5:00 a.m. PST (UTC+8) until 10:00 p.m on weekdays, and 5:00 a.m. PST (UTC+8) until 9:30 pm during weekends and holidays. It operates almost every day of the year unless otherwise announced. Special schedules are announced via the PA system at every station and also in newspapers and other mass media. During Holy Week, a public holiday in the Philippines, the rail system is closed for annual maintenance, owing to fewer commuters and traffic around the metro. Normal operation resumes on Easter Sunday.


A westbound MRT-2 train on the viaduct near Marikina River towards Santolan Station
J. Ruiz Station platform area

During the construction of the first line of the Manila Light Rail Transit System in the early 1980s, Electrowatt Engineering Services of Zürich designed a comprehensive plan for metro service in Metro Manila. The plan—still used as the basis for planning new metro lines—consisted of a 150-kilometer (93 mi) network of rapid transit lines spanning all major corridors within 20 years, including a line on the Radial Road 6 alignment, one of the region's busiest road corridor.

The MRT-2 (informally LRT-2) project officially began in 1996, twelve years after the opening of the LRT Line 1, with the granting of the soft loans for the line's construction. However, construction barely commenced, with the project stalled as the Philippine government conducted several investigations into alleged irregularities with the project's contract. The consortium of local and foreign companies, led by Marubeni Corporation, formed the Asia-Europe MRT Consortium (AEMC) which won the contract and restarted the project in 2000 after getting cleared from the allegations.

The AEMC was subsequently given the approval to commence construction by the DOTC and LRTA. The LRTA would have ownership of the system and assume all administrative functions, such as the regulation of fares and operations as well as the responsibility over construction and maintenance of the system and the procurement of spare parts for trains.

Construction started on March 1996 after the LRTA signed the first three packages of the agreement with Sumitomo Corporation delivering Package 1 in which covers the construction of the depot and its facilities, while the Hanjin-Itochu Joint Venture delivered packages 2 and 3 in which covers the substructure and the superstructure plus the stations respectively. The final package which was the package 4 agreement was signed after several delays with Asia-Europe MRT Consortium which was composed of Marubeni Corporation, Balfour Beatty, Toshiba, Daewoo Heavy Industries, and a local company which was D.M. Consuji Incorporated (DMCI) in which includes the communiacations and fares systems, vehicles, and trackworks.

During construction, the LRTA oversaw all the design, construction, equipping, testing, commissioning, and technical supervision of the project activities.

On April 5, 2003, the initial section, from Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao was inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with all remaining stations opening on April 5, 2004 except for Recto which opened on October 29, 2004. However, ridership was initially moderate yet still far below expectations, since the passenger volume in this line is not yet fully achieved.

To address passenger complaints on earlier train lines, the LRTA made sure during the construction phase that the stations are PWD[clarification needed] friendly by putting up escalators and elevators for easier access, as well as making passenger fares at par with the other existing lines.

Station facilities, amenities, and services[edit]

Santolan Station, the only MRT-2 station with an island platform.
The entrance to Santolan station as seen from the Marikina-Infanta Highway
Bridge linking the MRT-2 Recto Station to the nearby LRT-1 Doroteo Jose Station

With the exception of Katipunan station, all stations are above ground.

Station layout and accessibility[edit]

Stations have a standard layout, with a concourse level and a platform level. The concourse is usually below the platform except for the underground station, with stairs, escalators and elevators leading down to the platform level. The levels are separated by fare gates.

The concourse contains ticket booths. Some stations, such as Araneta Center-Cubao, are connected at concourse level to nearby buildings, such as shopping malls, for easier accessibility.

Stations either have island platforms, such as Santolan, or side platforms, such as Gilmore and Recto. Part of the platform at the front of the train is cordoned off for the use of pregnant women, children, elderly and disabled passengers. At side-platform stations passengers need to enter the concourse area to enter the other platforms, while passengers can easily switch sides at stations with island platforms. Stations have toilets at the concourse level.

All stations are barrier-free inside and outside the station, and trains have spaces for passengers using wheelchairs.

Shops and services[edit]

Inside the concourse of all stations is at least one stall or stand where people can buy food or drinks. Stalls vary by station, and some have fast food stalls. The number of stalls also varies by station, and stations tend to have a wide variety, especially in stations such as Recto and V. Mapa.

Stations such as Recto and Santolan are connected to or are near shopping malls and/or other large shopping areas, where commuters are offered more shopping varieties.

In cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, passengers are offered a copy of the Inquirer Libre, a free, tabloid-size, Tagalog version of the Inquirer, which is available from 6 a.m. at all MRT-2 stations.


The MRT-2 has always presented itself as a safe system to travel in. So far, this has been affirmed by the LRTA, the government owned and controlled corporation running LRT-1 and MRT-2, has since been able to live up to that reputation. Safety notices in both English and Tagalog are also a common sight at MRT-2 stations and inside the trains.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Incidents and accidents are rare aboard the MRT-2, but there have been notable events throughout the MRT-2's history:

Date Location Results
January 10, 2005 Recto Two robbers dressed as janitors ran off with PHP 700,000 in station earnings from Recto station, killing one policeman, Arcadio Borja from the Lockheed Security Agency, in the process. The robbers were wearing the uniforms of Excellent General Services, the agency which provides janitorial services on the entire Purple Line.[3] It is presumed that the robbers entered the station through the fire exit, the hallway lights of which were turned off to make them invisible to security cameras. Four janitors, eight security guards and cashier Leo Inocentes, from which the money was robbed from, were subjected to a polygraph test after testing negative for gunshot residue.[4]
January 30, 2006 Santolan A man, later identified as Zaldy Morato Muna, was arrested after guards conducting a routine bag search discovered bomb-making materials inside Muna's bag, with the suspect claiming that the materials were for a fishpond project in Antipolo City and that he believed that he had given the materials to a friend of his.[5] While the suspect has been relieved of any allegations of being a member of a terrorist group, charges of illegal possession of explosives will still be levied against him, according to police.[6]
June 22, 2006 Santolan to Katipunan At about 6:15am PST, MRT-2 operations were halted for about three hours due to a power glitch that occurred between the two stations. LRTA engineers discovered a piece of tin that broke one of the catenary wires, causing delays for passengers who had to be transferred via coach to Anonas station, the closest open station of the network for passengers boarding from Santolan and Katipunan. Full line operations resumed by 9:30 am after the wire was repaired.[7]
July 12, 2006 Santolan to Katipunan Hundreds of passengers were stranded after lightning caused by Tropical Storm Bilis (Florita) struck one of the overhead wires, causing the line to break and forcing operations from Santolan to Katipunan to stall. Operations from Recto to Anonas continued as normal while linemen were repairing the damaged wire.[8]
May 20, 2008 Recto Train operations from Recto to Araneta Center-Cubao were suspended due to lightning that struck the station's power supply.[9]
July 14, 2008 Araneta Center-Cubao A hard and sudden downpour of rain disrupted operations of the MRT-2 and caused a power transformer to explode and trigger a brownout in some parts of Quezon City. Trains loaded with passengers stopped at the Araneta Center-Cubao, while MRT-2's workers tried to activate their emergency generator to immediately resume operations.[10]
January 4, 2011 V. Mapa Operations of the MRT-2 were temporarily halted due to obstructions along the tracks in the Sta. Mesa district in Manila during rush hour early Tuesday. The object was reported past 7 a.m. PST, forcing them to stop operations until the tracks were cleared.[11]
March 24, 2011 Katipunan A glitch interrupted the operations of the MRT-2, this time involving a defective door on one of its coaches. The technical problem occurred at 6:47 a.m. PST, involving a train bound for the Recto Station when a train at the Katipunan Station had the said glitch. The operations resumed at 6:55 a.m. PST, and insisted MRT-2 technicians quickly fixed the problem.[12]
June 11, 2011 Araneta Center-Cubao The morning operation of the MRT-2 was delayed when a man suddenly jumped on the railroad tracks in front of an incoming train.[13]
August 13, 2012 Santolan to Katipunan A lightning due to severe rainfall that was enhanced by Typhoon Haikui struck the catenary cables in Santolan station area at around 11:10 a.m. With this, thousands of passengers were stranded in Santolan and Katipunan station. The operation was shortened to Anonas - Recto station. The normal operation was resumed by 4:00 p.m. Just after 2 hours, an air pressure of one of the trains was shortened in V.Mapa - Pureza area. But it was fixed after several minutes.[14]
May 8, 2013 Santolan to Recto Widespread power outage in the island of Luzon affected the MRT-2 thus putting the system on "Code Red" which suspended the whole revenue line operations for several hours. Normal operations resumed around 2:45 PM after power was restored completely in the system.[15]


Passengers at MRT-2 stations are advised to not stay too close to the edge of the platforms to avoid falling onto the tracks. Passengers are prohibited from eating, drinking or smoking and taking pictures inside the platform area of all MRT-2 stations and inside the trains. Bags are also inspected for prohibited goods, such as chemicals and knives. Passengers are also inspected by guards using a handheld metal detector.

For safety and security reasons, persons who are visibly intoxicated, insane and/or under the influence of controlled substances, persons carrying flammable materials and/or explosives, persons carrying bulky objects or items over 1.5 metres (5 ft) tall and/or wide, and persons bringing pets and/or other animals are prohibited from entering the MRT-2. Passengers are also prohibited from entering the MRT-2 if bringing products in tin cans, citing the possibility of home-made bombs being concealed inside the cans.[16]


In response to the Rizal Day bombings and the September 11th attacks, security has been stepped up on board the MRT-2. The Philippine National Police has a special police force on the MRT-2,[17] and security police provided by the government can be found in all MRT-2 stations. All MRT-2 stations have a head guard. Some stations may also have a deployed K9 bomb-sniffing dog.

The MRT-2 also employs the use of closed-circuit television inside all stations to monitor suspicious activities and to assure safety and security aboard the line.

Passengers are also advised to look out for thieves, who can take advantage of the crowding aboard MRT-2 trains. Wanted posters are posted at all MRT-2 stations to help commuters identify known thieves.

Fares and ticketing[edit]

A sample MRT-2 single journey ticket bearing the face of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo released in 2004.
The design of the front side of the 2014 stored value ticket
The design of the back side of the 2014 stored value ticket

The MRT-2, like the LRT-1 and MRT-3, uses a distance-based fare structure, with fares ranging from twelve to fifteen pesos (28 to 35 U.S. cents), depending on the destination. Commuters who ride the MRT-2 are charged ₱12 for the first three stations, ₱13 for 4–6 stations, ₱14 for 7-9 stations and ₱15 for 10 stations or the entire line. Children below 1.02 metres (3 ft 4.4 in) (the height of a fare gate) may ride for free on the MRT-2

Types of tickets[edit]

Four types of MRT-2 tickets exist: a single-journey (one-way) ticket whose cost is dependent on the destination, a stored-value (multiple-use) ticket for 100 pesos, a discounted stored value ticket (multiple-use) which can only be availed by senior citizens and disabled persons for 96 pesos, and a single journey ticket for employees (one-way) which is exclusive for LRTA employees only. The single-journey ticket and the single journey ticket for employees is valid only on the date of purchase. Meanwhile, the stored-value ticket and the discounted stored-value ticket is valid for six months from date of purchase when unused and for one month from date it was first used.

MRT-2 tickets come in four incarnations: one bearing the portrait of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which have since been phased out, although some tickets have been recycled due to ticket shortages, one with the LRT-1 third generation train inauguration together with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one with the LRT-MRT closing the loop project design with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again in the picture, and one with a picture of the Hyundai Rotem EMUs used in the line which featured different designs for the single journey and stored value tickets with the former having a picture of the train unloading, while the latter is a flipped concept art of the train.

In the past, the MRT-3 borrowed tickets from LRT-1 and MRT-2 rather than recycling the old "Erap tickets", due to the same ticket shortages.[18]

Despite the common practice for regular MRT-2 passengers to purchase several stored-value tickets at a time, the line barely has ticket shortages due to the inter-compatibility of tickets with the LRT-1 and the steady release of new tickets that addresses the problem.

Although the MRT-2 has experimented with the Flash Pass as an alternative ticketing system in the past, this was phased out in 2009.

Fare adjustment[edit]

Adjusting passenger fares has been employed by the LRTA as a means to boost flagging ridership figures, and the issue of MRT-2 fares both historically and in the present day continues to be a contentious political issue involving officials at even the highest levels of government.

Current MRT-2 fare levels were set in April 2004 under the orders of President Arroyo, meant to become competitive against other modes of transport which resulted into a drastic increase in the MRT-2 ridership after lower fares were implemented. These lower fares—which are only slightly more expensive than jeepney fares—are financed through large government subsidies amounting to around ₱45 per passenger,[19] and which for both the MRTC and the LRTA reached ₱75 billion between 2004 and 2014. Without subsidies, the cost of a single MRT-2 trip is estimated at around ₱60.[19]

Rolling stock[edit]

Route Map above the door
Inside an MRT-2 train

The MRT-2 runs heavy rail vehicles made in South Korea by Hyundai Rotem in a four-car configuration. The trains came in together with the fourth package during the system's construction. Trains have a capacity of 1,628 passengers, which is more than the normal capacity of LRT-1 and MRT-3 rolling stocks.

MRT-2 trains are particularly known for their use of wrap advertising. A wide variety of advertisements can be seen on MRT-2 trains, of which some include Samsung Electronics, Nike, and Converse products. Trains bearing wrap advertising are now very common aboard the MRT-2, although trains that use MRT-2's house colors are also in service in the network. The revenues generated from the advertising on MRT-2 trains are used to pay off debts incurred by the LRTA during the system's construction and maintain the rolling stocks and stations of the line.


The MRT-2 maintains an at-grade depot in Santolan, Pasig City, near Santolan station. It serves as the headquarters for light and heavy maintenance of the MRT-2, as well as the operations of the system in general which includes the operation of the driverless trains. It is connected to the main MRT-2 network by a spur line.

The depot is capable of storing multiple electric multiple units, with the option to expand to include more vehicles as demand arises. They are parked on several sets of tracks, which converge onto the spur route and later on to the main network.


Automatic Fare Collection System[edit]

Automatic Fare Collection System involves the decommissioning of the old-magnetic-based ticketing system and replacing the same with contactless-based smart card technology on LRT Line 1, MRT Line 2 and MRT Line 3, with the introduction of a centralized back office that will perform apportionment of revenues. The private sector will operate and maintain the fare collection system. On January 31, 2014, DOTC awarded the right to build and operate the smart-card system to AF Consortium.[20] The group comprise of Ayala Corporation’s BPI and Globe Telecom, Metro Pacific's Smart Communications and Meralco FinServe, MSI Global, which developed automated fare collection systems’ software in Singapore and Bangkok, and SMRT, which operates Singapore’s mass transit system.[21] It posted a negative bid of PhP 1,088,103,900.00, which edged out the SM Group’s bid of PhP 1,088,000,000.00. Under the terms of the AF Consortium bid, there will be an upfront payment of PhP 279 million and the balance of PhP 800 million will then be paid in transaction fees when ridership volume reaches 750 million transactions per quarter. 72% of the total amount will only be paid to the government in 2024 or 2025, and only if the conditional volume is met.[22]

East Extension[edit]

A 4-kilometer (2.5 mi) east extension of the MRT-2 from Santolan to Antipolo, Rizal, was proposed. The proposal entails the construction of two additional stations, one in Cainta near Emerald Avenue; and another in the Masinag junction of Antipolo. It was approved last September 2012 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).[23]

West Extension[edit]

An 8-kilometer (5.0 mi) west extension of MRT-2 to Tondo, Manila was proposed. It was approved in principle by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), but the actual proposal is pending before the NEDA secretariat. The construction of this said extension will create one station which will serve people in the Tutuban /Divisoria area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The MRT Line 2 System". Light Rail Transit Authority. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  2. ^ "Key Performance Indicator - Line 2 - Blue Line". Light Rail Transit Authority. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  3. ^ Guard killed in MRT-2 robbery; P0.7M lost, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 10, 2005
  4. ^ MRT-2 robbery probe focuses on station employees, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 12, 2005
  5. ^ Man with bomb materials nabbed at MRT-2 station in Pasig, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 30, 2006
  6. ^ Explosives seized at MRT-2 line for fishpond project--suspect, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 31, 2006[dead link]
  7. ^ Power glitch halts MRT-2 for 3 hours, Manila Bulletin, June 22, 2006
  8. ^ MRT-2 operations from Katipunan to Santolan stations stall, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 12, 2006 (archived from the original on 2007-03-11)
  9. ^ Lightning disrupts MRT-2 service, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 20, 2008
  10. ^ Sudden rain mars MRT-2 operations causes brownouts in Quezon City, July 14, 2008
  11. ^ Obstructions on the MRT-2 tracks halted operations, January 4, 2011
  12. ^ Door glitch distrupts MRT-2 operations, March 24, 2011
  13. ^ Suicide try at MRT-2 , Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 12, 2011
  14. ^ MRT-2 hit by lightning , Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 13, 2012
  15. ^ Power failure disrupts MRT-2 operations , ABS-CBN News, May 8, 2013
  16. ^ MRT-2 issues directive imposing ban on tin cans, Manila Times, August 10, 2005
  17. ^ New task force formed to keep LRT, MRT safe, The Daily Tribune, November 13, 2004
  18. ^ MRTC borrows value tickets from LRTA, Manila Times, November 12, 2003
  19. ^ a b Diokno, Benjamin E. (December 17, 2013). "Folly of government subsidy". BusinessWorld (BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation). Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Neda Board OKs 9 big projects, Business Mirror, retrieved September 6, 2012

External links[edit]