Completion of SMC’s MRT-7 delayed on RoW issues in Bulacan segment — DoTr

Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7)

THE METRO Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) project of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is experiencing delays due to right-of-way (RoW) issues,  particularly in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said.

“For the MRT-7, we are looking at operating the Quezon City leg by the last quarter of 2025, meaning the portion from Quezon Avenue. [The one] from North Avenue to Lagro,” Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of a forum last week. 

MRT-7, which will have 14 stations, will run from Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, and is expected to carry 300,000 passengers daily in its first year, and up to 850,000 passengers a day in its 12th year.

SMC is financing the construction and will operate the 23-kilometer commuter rail system after signing a 25-year concession agreement with the government.

Data from the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center showed that the project’s original target completion was set for 2019 but was later postponed to partial operation in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Just last year, the DoTr announced that the MRT-7 would commence operations by 2025.

“But the Bulacan part will not be completed by 2025 because [the MRT-7] has 14 stations. We’re hoping to operate by at least up to its 12th station by December of 2025,” Mr. Bautista said.

Its 13th station is expected to be operational “a year after,” Mr. Bautista noted.

The commuter rail line’s stations are Quezon North Avenue Joint Station, Quezon Memorial Circle, University Avenue, Tandang Sora, Don Antonio, Batasan, Manggahan, Doña Carmen, Regalado, Mindanao Avenue, Quirino, Sacred Heart, Tala, and San Jose del Monte.

Mr. Bautista said that the completion of MRT-7 is encountering RoW issues, specifically in the portion of San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan.

“There are oppositions there, they are saying it will cause heavy traffic flow. I actually had a meeting with the local government because we are really pushing for immediate resolution to the RoW issues,” he said.

He said the local government has requested to divert the station to another location.

“Because the area is too narrow, there is opposition from building owners. They provided us with options which we are going to study,” he said.

Once the RoW issues are resolved, the station in Bulacan will be operated between 2027 and 2028.

“We will study (the options provided). We are not in a hurry because our target is really to operate up to the Lagro station by 2025,” Mr. Bautista said.

In 2023, SMC announced that it has secured a P100 billion loan that is expected to hasten the construction of the MRT-7 project. — Ashley Erika O. Jose