Inaugural run of the Light Rail Transit System
Delivered By: President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., Sept. 10, 1984
I am proud and pleased to join you all here today for this historic commencement of service of our country’s very first Light Rail Transit System.
No words of mine can possibly add to the great meaning and significance of this transit facility. No words of congratulation can add luster to the impressive achievement of those who conceived, promoted and built this magnificent addition to our metropolis.
For in truth, the Light Rail Transit System is its own best witness to its worth. By the service it will henceforth provide is vindicated and rewarded the hopes and the strivings of those who sponsored, conceived and built this transit facility. And it is truly our country and ourselves who are ennobled by this ceremony, and enriched by this achievement.
To be sure, this project has never been without its detractors and opponents from the very moment when it was first conceived and proposed, and to this day of its inauguration. But to the credit of its planners, advocates and builders, they never for a moment were discouraged by the vain efforts of those who sought to frustrate this project. And today as we mark here the completion of the initial phase of this facility, our people fully stand to reap from their resolve and dedication.
It is said that only “far seeing vision accomplish far reaching victories.” I do not doubt that the impact of the Light Rail Transit System will be far reaching and great indeed. I do not doubt that from this facility will sprout the long sought reform and modernization of our public transport system in Metro Manila.
The disorder that has plagued our transport system had its roots early in this century when our leaders then chose to allow the evolution of a system that favored the private, often rich, motorist over the ordinary commuter. precious little attention and resources were given to mass mobility and transport to such an extent that today, for instance, half of all the motorized vehicles plying our roads are private cars. For a developing economy such as ours the choice has proved to be most unfortunate. It has meant building and maintaining a constantly growing and expensive road network.
It has contributed to our soaring imports of oil that in any case — despite our best efforts — were used inefficiently and wastefully. In turn, the vast proliferation of internal combustion engines has also seriously befouled our ecology.
The LRT, therefore, should be viewed as an important measure to restore order and rationality in our mass transport system the LRT has the interest of the mass commuter — the common man — at heart. while we cannot deny that it will soon displace other forms of mass transport — forms that are anyway unclean, wasteful, inefficient and evidently incapable of satisfying our requirements for mass mobility — the LRT provides a sane and intelligent option. We cannot permit the limited concerns of a single sector to override the best interest and well-being of the majority.
A proposal for a similar transport system had been broached as early as the first half of the i960′ s. but due to the insistent lobbying of certain commercial interests and the vacillation of some policy-makers at that time, the proposal was rejected, much to our disadvantage. We have thus had to undertake the construction of the LRT burdened by the added cost of that early indecision.
While the investment for the LRT may at first glance seem staggering, we should not lose sight of the fact that in the long term the project will more than pay for itself. If we go by the savings from increased energy efficiency and human productivity which the system makes possible, it becomes obvious that our funds for this project are wisely spent. We are not simply concerned with the convenience, comfort and safety of commuters although these have and will always be important considerations. More important are the economic benefits we will realize from cutting down on the Manhours lost to needlessly lengthy commuting time as well as on the costly fuel squandered in other, energy-profligate means of mass transport.
These, of course, are the kind of data that some of our political opponents ignore or, worse, choose to distort. During the past few years, they have been exploiting the understandable anxiety of certain quarters despite the fact that programs are already underway to safeguard their livelihood.
The final verdict on the LRT, however, will come not from our short-sighted and mean-spirited adversaries but from the millions of people who stand to benefit from this improvement in Metro Manila’s transport system and I do not doubt and I do not doubt for a moment what that verdict will be.
In behalf of our people, therefore, I would like to congratulate the light rail transit authority, particularly the engineers and workmen who through considerable hardship have made this engineering feat possible. I would also like to express the people’s gratitude to the Belgian Government whose assistance has been extremely valuable.
I would once more emphasize that this is but the first phase of a far more comprehensive mass transport network. in the coming years, the LRT will be made to expand and reach an even larger section of metro manila with tried and tested achievers such as Minister Dans, the Governor of Metro Manila, and the men and women of LRTA, I am confident we cannot fail.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library