Common train station going a-chu-chu-chu

In Photo: Sy, Poe and Alvarez

OUR motorists and commuters alike will have to wait a little longer before the common train station at Edsa-North Avenue, Quezon City, could even start construction.

Tabled for groundbreaking tentatively this December, there seems to be some snags stopping its take-off—one of which is its final design.

Will it be people-friendly as to make common station users comfortable when they navigate their way into their next train ride from another?

When it is completed, car-owners can leave their cars at parking lots, and take a train to Makati or somewhere.

Big gas savings.

No time wasted in traffic.

The common station will involve three main train lines:   LRT 1, MRT 3 and LRT 7. Just three lines and, already, some punks want to name the edifice as the Grand Central Station.

That’s crazy, to say the least.   If Digong should call its chief proponent an idiot, he’d be justified.

In Tokyo’s Grand Central Station are housed 17 railway lines. In New York’s Grand Central Station: a total of 27 lines, if I’m not mistaken.   In London, Chicago and many other major cities in the world, almost every common station is a Grand Central Station, only because it has at least 10 railway lines at the minimum. The said common station on Edsa-North Avenue was envisioned in 2009 yet and why, some eight or so years later, its construction has yet to begin is a question begging for an answer. SM owners had paid P200 million “for naming rights” to the station’s name because, in fairness, the building was initially conceptualized to sit near SM North not far from the Veterans Memorial Hospital on North Avenue   (Who pocketed the money.)

And then TriNoma, erected right across SM North, joined the fray. That’s when the tug-of-war between the Sys (owner of SM North) and Ayalas (owner of TriNoma) began. TriNoma wanted a “piece of the cake”, insofar as the station’s makeup is concerned. SM protested—but, of course.   A case was brought up, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the temporary restraining order stopping the construction of the common station.

And then Digong won, ordering his wards to untangle the knot. To his credit, transportation boss Art P. Tugade made the major players to agree to sign a memorandum of agreement to allow for the construction, finally, of the common station. The main players are the Sys, Ayalas, SMC’s Ramon S. Ang (LRT 7 builder) and Nlex owner Manny V. Pangilinan.

But even before the new design was presented to Congress, leaders of the “common tao” and commuters cried foul, saying they weren’t consulted. Some complained that a 150-meter distance to transfer from one train ride to another was too long a walk.

And why would the government contribute P2.8 billion to the building’s construction? The answer:   The government owns that portion of the edifice, and will earn enormous revenues from establishment rentals.

But while some lower house solons had appeared critical, led by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, the upper house, led by Sen. Grace Poe, was looking at it in a not-so-unfriendly manner.

“Let’s wait for the Neda report,” Poe said.   “And when the project is to be studied and deliberated upon again, let us involve the leaders of the people, like Ka Nato [Renato Reyes of Bayan] and Ka Elvie [from the commuters group].”

I can only agree.

Only when all sectors of society are consulted can we honestly say that our motorists and train riders alike get ultimately benefited from the rise of this so-called common station—whatever its name would be in the end.   Calling it a-chu-chu-chu would be fine by me.

What’s in a name, anyways?

PEE STOP I missed the Volkswagen Party last Wednesday, as I had to motor down South in support of the continuing Calauag Global (CG) Reunion on February 18 and 19, slated in Calauag, Quezon. This time, Calauag’s TYP (The Young Professionals), led by Dr. Tess M. Flores, will spearhead the two-day festivities featuring a medical mission-gift giving-feeding program, Balik-Alay outreach mission and a Fiesta sa Nayon dance party  on Sunday  night. Lead convener NACS (National Association of Calauagenians) had done its part hosting the CG reunion’s first phase at Novotel in Cubao, Quezon City, on February 11—a smashing Grand Ballroom bash for 400-plus balikbayan and guests from virtually the four corners of the world holding their third world assembly after the breakthrough 2013 Chicago edition and the 2015 Cerritos, CA event. With the famous Nonoy Lopez and His Band providing almost nonstop music ably backed up by mobile sound, the grand partying-dancing went till past  midnight. Practically, everybody enjoyed every minute of the historic occasion held outside the US for the first time.   It was attended by the town’s virtual who’s who, led by Calauag Mayor Luisito S. Visorde. In her speech at Novotel, NACS National President Sol F. Juvida, the grand reunion’s overall chairman from the Philippine side, had only kind words for the robust support showered her by the NACS core, including Milette Earnshaw, Loida Lupangosy, Joy Ramos, Dr. May Eudela, Baby Canton, Dr. Susan Ong, Rosanna Marudo, Concepcion L. Quevedo, Rachel Vargas, Lian Entienza, Loida Ilano-Juta, Melinda P. Kagaoan and Mariliza Batao-Vito. Sol also acknowledged with much pride the US-based leaders of the third Calauag Global Execom, led by overall chairman Archie Entienza, Aurora Ambas-Alvea, Cesar and Emerita Ordiz-Balilo, Noel J. Morales and CG chief adviser Delia Cocadiz-Perez of Chicago. The fourth CG reunion in 2019 is tentatively set in New Jersey US.


Image Credits: Bloomberg, asiaonenews and DWIZ