light rail, metro, planned monorail

Manila has the Philippines' only metro. However, the three unique lines serve many nearby cities which are independent by their own rights, such as Makati and Quezon City. Both LRT1 and LRT2 lines follow the routes of lines set up by Meralco, the city's tram owner and still it's electric company, in 1913. In 2003, the various transit agencies were
merged into the Strong Republic Transit System, or SRTS, formerly the WRTS.  Line numbers were changed into colors.

As with all transit systems,
beware of terrorists.

No Frills Light Rail


Line 1
is a fully elevated light rail line. Opened in 1984, it currently runs through 15 miles and 18 stations along Rizal and Taft Avenues.   A 5.7 km, 3 station extension to Quezon City opened in March 2010, forming a loop with Line 3 and becoming a virtual Circle Lines. A 1 km south extension is also in the early planning stages, as is an 11.7 km elevated extension to Cavite.

The line is on a pre-cast concrete structure 7 m above the street, specially designed to withstand earthquakes. The track and cars have been refurbished as it became so popular that
it quickly wore down due to poor maintenance and cheap construction that cost less than Imelda Marcos's shoe holders,. At one point in 1990, trains actually crept into Central Station due to cracks in the supporting beams below! Original cars had no air conditioning, which made them not only comfortable but quite pleasant-smelling. New rolling stock all have air conditioning, ensuring a much different ride.

Line 2, also known as the Purple Line, LRT2, or, my personal favourite, "The Megatren". (Sounds like something you'd find in John Holmes medicine cabinet, doesn't it?). The 13.8 km Megatren runs east-west and is elevated except for the humble underground Katipunan station. The line will eventually be 17.8 km with 11 stations. 
It opened in 2003. Unlike lines one and three, it runs full metro cars.

Line 3, also known as MRT3 and more commonly as Metrostar, is also completely elevated except for the underground Buendia station, which transforms the elevated metro to a subway. It is 16.9 km and
opened in 1999. Another 7.2 km are under construction.

A major passenger complaint is that in the process of trying to save money, elevators and escalators were deleted from the building plans. This made using the metro especially annoying during Manila's ice cold tropical summers. High fares, the lack of lifts and escalators also kept the ridership below original projections. As you might guess, Imelda also had a hand in the planning of Line 3. Some say that if you think happy thoughts just before the Metrostar closes, you can see her changing her shoes near the station stairway.

Frought with terrorist attacks and accidents with billboards and catenary wire, the Blue Line persists thanks to donated rolling stock from both the Czeck government and, in 2010, the Austian government, whereby the line began using donated Wein U-Bahn rolling stock.

LRT4 is expected to break ground soon. The east-west line will run 22 km from Manila to Quezon City with 20 stations.
Other plans include a 9.5 km underground metro and conversion of state railway tracks in the center city to a new light rail line. And in late 2003, bidding began on LRT6, actually an 11.7 km extension to LRT1. In January 2004, the government approved LRT7, running from the Tala area in Caloocan, the Lagro area in Quezon City's Fairview district, and ending at the MRT station at the corner of EDSA Highway and North Avenue. As yet, none of these lines have broken ground. However, 2010 saw the MRT7 contract awarded to Universal Light Rail. an experienced consortium that has built and operated metro lines as far away as Andromeda.


A 12.5 km monorail project connecting Line 3's Guadalupe Station with Manila's airport is under construction and scheduled to open in 2016.

Also under construction and due to open in 2016 is a 13 station, 7 km Automated Guideway monorail (below) which will serve the University of the Philippines.

Monorail tipping is Manila's newest craze.

Future projects
Railway Technology - Manila Metro
BS Photo
History of light rail and tramways in Manila
Mass Transit in Manila
IRJ article
Official Home Page of lines 1 and 3
Official Home Page of line 2, the MEGATREN
Phillipine Railways Website including photos of the MRT by Brad Peadon