By Edd K. Usman
Without a shred of doubt, every one of the many thousands who crammed every day the 109 coaches of the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 wants to have a comfortable and safe commuting experience.
No arguing with that.
The good thing? It’s exactly what the Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) is aiming to accomplish. And the riding public themselves now have an opportunity to participate in achieving the goal.
The LRMC, headed by Juan F. Alfonso, president and CEO, launched “Hackatren” in partnership with De La Salle-College of St. Benilde Hub for Innovation For Inclusion (DLS-CSB HIFI).
At the event launch on recently, Alfonso reported various improvements already — which he called “pioneering achievements” — introduced in 2015 when the private company entered into a 32-year concession agreement for the operation and maintenance of LRT System Line 1 (or LRT-1) inclusive of the 20 stations dotting the elevated route from Baclaran to Monumento, including the Depot located on Andrews Avenue, Pasay City.
But the company is not about to stop its journey from there. It wants to introduce more improvements to enhance customer experience, make them comfortable, feel safe and, perhaps, look forward to taking the LRT-1 in their daily travels from work to home and back.
And what better way to do this than passengers themselves coming up with IT apps that offer solutions to further lift their traveling experience.
The Hackatren is also one way to pay tribute to the Filipino developers. Prizes for the top three winners are not peanuts, either: First place, P100,000; second place, P50,000; and third place, P25,000.
Hackatren will harness the talents of Filipinos to generate solutions for a “Biyaheng better everyday” (Better travel everyday).
“LRMC believes in the Filipino talent. With Hackatren, we will showcase the IT programming skills of Filipinos. It will also be a platform for them to contribute to the uplift of customer experience at LRT-1,” said Alfonso, who came to LRMC with over 25 years experience under his belt from various industries in the Philippines and in the United States.
Qualified to join the competition are Filipinos from 18 years old and above who have a knack for programming, designing, and coding.
One of the rules is for applicants for Hackatren to form a three- or four-member team and designate a designer/architect, with the rest as coders. Professionals and students are allowed to team up.
Registration which can be done through Eventbrite opened on June 11 and will end on June 30, 2018.
Applicants who will make it to the shortlist will be invited to the Hackatren pre-hack day on June 30 during which they meet IT experts and mentors from LRMC who will orient them about the competition.
Qualified teams will then advance to the main Hackatren event on July 14-15.
Mark Meily of DLS-CSB HIFI said the Hackatren is looking for apps that will entertain, inform, and educate LRT-1 commuters; meaning adding value to their experience and make the trip worth their while.
Apps should be part of a big ecosystem and not just focused on, say, having a karaoke, so that it will last longer, he said.
Among the improvements identified by Alfonso after 2015 included the increase of light rail vehicles (LRVs) from 77 to 109 as of December 2017.
Improvement of cycle time from an average of 118 to 100 minutes. Cycle time refers to the amount of time a train completes one loop by increasing the speed from Roosevelt to Monumento, reduction of queuing time and headways in between trains from five to six minutes to less than four minutes, more trips from the current 512 to 544 trips on weekdays and 443 to 472 on Saturdays;
LRMC also opened all its 20 passenger stations at 4 a.m. while train operation now starts at 4;40 a.m. at Baclaran and Roosevelt Stations, it added five trips to accommodate late-night commuters; and,
In less than two years of LRMC’s taking the helm of LRT-1, the company passed the audit of international systems certification body TUV Rheinland, particularly receiving certifications in Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001:2015) and Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001:2015).
The LRMC is a joint venture between the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation’s Metro Manila Light Rail Corporation (MPLRC), Ayala Corporation’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation (AC Infra), and the Philippine Inverstment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Holdings (Philippines) PTE. Ltd. (MPIHPL). It was incorporated on July 22, 2014.
It is engaged in the development, construction, operation, maintenance, repair, management and other related businesses that have to do with railways and railroad projects and other transport systems for the private and public sector, as well as investing in said projects and bidding and negotiating these projects.
Also at the launch were Randy Sac and Rex Ranoco Lor, LRMC Information and Technology head; Rex Lor, Innovation and Development Monitoring of Hub Innovation for Inclusion (HiFi) of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, and Rodolfo Chansuyco, LRMC chief operating officer.