Aug 23, 2018

Like a lot of people staying in Metro Manila, I ride the MRT to get to and from work. The commute is often the worst parts of my day, even when I’m having a stressful work week. The MRT is fine when there aren’t a lot of people around, but it’s an absolute beast during the rush hours. Imagine a pack of human sardines physically jostling and silently hating each other, and you’ve got a picture of the line to the MRT. It comes to no surprise that you can end up waiting an hour before you get inside the incredibly packed, claustrophobia-inducing train.

This is why a recent Facebook post has incited the ire of many people, mine included.

A netizen writes about having to pay 28 pesos at the MRT cashier because she “overstayed” at the MRT Cubao station. This only happened because the lines at the Cubao station were incredibly long that morning and she was only able to get in after waiting an hour and half in line (as someone who does go on the Cubao station, I can confirm that the line can get that long).

I decided to check the MRT website if there’s any info on the overstay fee located there. It’s not just to fact check the story; I was genuinely curious if that info can be found on the site. What I quickly realized is that it’s not readily available, and you have to use the search bar to get an untitled PDF, the only place on the site that mentions the fee.

nolisoli mrt dotc overstay fee
Of course, you get an “unsecure” notice when you try clicking the PDF. Maybe I’m being naive but I really don’t think you should get unsecure site notices when trying to access public government data. Just a thought. Screengrab from the dotcmrt3.gov.ph website.

So there you go,a pparently, the MRT does state that it charges P28 for overstaying, even if it does take you awhile to find that info. Good to know?

nolisoli mrt dotc overstay fee
Screengrab from the dotcmrt3.gov.ph website

After doing some more digging, I realized that this system is, in fact, not new. Palanca award-winner Angelo Suarez posted in 2016 about the same exact thing.

Why in the world is there an overstay fee?

I’m sure there’s probably one or two randos out there that randomly like staying too long at a given station for whatever reason, but I’m going to hazard a guess that the vast majority of commuters who end up overstaying do so because the lines are too long, the trains are too slow, and the MRT is being blissfully inefficient. The people are essentially being penalized for something that’s not their fault.

A different netizen also offered a good point about the overstaying fee: if the MRT can charge us for staying too long at the station (even if it’s totally their fault), can we charge the MRT for all the hours we lost at work because of its inept system?

Do take note that for a lot of people taking the MRT, every peso counts. And if they’ve been delayed at a station for upwards of an hour already, odds are that they’re already late for work and will have that time be docked from their pay. Adding an overstay fee on top of that is a huge slap on the face to them.

If you’re jaded, the temptation is to add this incident to the long list of examples of the MRT’s (and by extension, DOTR’s) seeming inability to read the room. What’s the difference between being charged P28 pesos for staying too long at a station and Harry Roque riding the MRT in 2017, think it’s not too bad, and claim that he understands “the pulse of the nation?” Not a thing.

Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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TAGS: mrt mrt overstay fee nolisoli.ph