Mere days before Christmas, carmageddon has become an everyday occurrence in the metropolis. The nearer we get to the date, the more we find road traffic getting heavier and slowing to a nightmarish crawl. Last-minute shoppers are racing to complete their Christmas Lists at the malls, partygoers are gamely braving the throng to reach their company parties and family reunions, and parents, with their kids in tow, are religiously following Catholic tradition by attending Simbang Gabi.
How can commuting be less of a drag and more of a delight? LRT-1 private operator Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) provides this answer: a much faster, more fun ride on LRT-1.
Here are five reasons why the LRT-1 Christmas Train is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this blessedly frantic holiday season:
#1: No traffic once you’re on LRT-1; you save on time and cost. There’s a train leaving at Roosevelt and Baclaran stationsevery 2.5 minutes; for passengers, waiting time between trains is now down to three minutes only. This beats by a mile the 30 minutes to an hour (or worse, two hours) you’ll likely spend waiting on your car or taxi hailing app to catch a ride. And at a fraction of the taxi rate, you can load up your handy Beep card and go in and out of LRT-1 multiple times without having to line up at the ticketing booth again.
#2: LRT-1 Christmas Train offers a festive surprise. Being surrounded by Christmas décor is cheering; you can’t help but feel a bit buoyant. Whether you’re flying solo or a small family keen on creating wonderful Christmas memories, have a go atthe “Music of Christmas” train’s benches resembling piano keysin the classical light-rail vehicle (LRV), or hold on to the candy-cane striped train poles and bask in the retro music café vibe of the other LRV. Here’s a tip: in the middle part (dubbed an “articulator”) of each LRV, you’ll find the “12 Lines of Christmas” backdrop plastered on the wall. Take selfie and follow the instructions on posting it online, and you could be one of the lucky LRT-1 passengers to receive special gifts! Best of all, the Christmas Train will still be plying its merry route until February 2023. Don’t forget to include the hashtags when uploading your selfies: #LRT1 #LRT1MusicOfChristmas
#3: Train rolls out just in time for Simbang Gabi. The first train from either Baclaran or Roosevelt station leaves at exactly 4:30 a.m., every day, without fail. Attendees of dawn masses or Misa de Gallo can easily catch the LRT-1 on their way home. From Quiapo Church (mass starts 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.) for example, it’s an easy walk to board Carriedo Station. From the Manila Cathedral (mass starts at 4:30 a.m.), it’s a bit of a vigil, but you can also walk to Central Terminal Station or U.N. Avenue Station. From the CCP Main Building Ramp (mass starts 5:00 a.m.), you can board at either Vito Cruz or Gil Puyat station. Meanwhile, attendees of evening masses can count on the last train departing Baclaran at 10:00 p.m. (Mon-Fri) and 9:30 p.m. (Sat-Sun/Holiday), and Roosevelt at 10:15 p.m. (Mon-Fri) and 9:45 p.m. (Sat-Sun/Holiday).
Operating times are shorter on two very special days: on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) the last train leaves Baclaran at 8:00 p.m. and Roosevelt at 8:15 p.m., so Misa de Aguinaldo attendees should plan accordingly; and on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), the last train leaves Baclaran at 7:00 p.m. and Roosevelt at 7:15 p.m. The LRT-1 reverts to the usual schedule on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), Rizal Day (Dec. 30), and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1).
#4: LRT-1 is most convenient for shoppers and sightseers. If Christmas shopping is your goal, drop by Cartimar Shopping Center (via Libertad station), which has practically everything: pet stores, plant nurseries, clothing and shoe stalls, sportswear stations, a bike center, and groceries and restaurants. There’s also Dapitan Arcade (via Blumentritt station), which corners the market on Christmas décor and home accessories. But the comfortable choice—read that as having air-conditioning—would be SM City Grand Central (connected to the LRT-1 via Monumento Station), or the sprawling SM Mall of Asia (MoA, via EDSA station).
Sightseers can view the MoA Holiday Fireworks display at SM by the Bay, every Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m., until Dec. 30. There’s also the popular Daily Lights Show, every hour from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., at the Fountain Foyer and Crystal Pavilion of nearby Okada Manila, until Jan. 1. But if you’d like to catch another type of show, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP, accessible via Vito Cruz station) is mounting film shows on the front lawn, a magical performance of The Nutcracker by Ballet Philippines, and concerts by the Philippine Madrigal Singers as well as the leading men of Philippine musical theater. For CCP schedules, visit https://culturalcenter.gov.ph/live-at-ccp.
#5: Riders of LRT-1 get big savings from Angkas. Given its focus on integrated mobility, LRMC has been looking at seamless cross-transport connections for commuters. Don’t worry that the zero-traffic ride stops at LRT-1, because you can beat traffic again by getting a discounted series of bike ridesfrom motorbike hailing app Angkas. LRT-1 passengers get Php40 off for their three rides when they book at select LRT-1 stations with Angkas booths and use the promo code for each station: EDSA (AKSEDSA), Gil Puyat (AKSGILPUYAT), Pedro Gil (AKSPEDROGIL), United Nations (AKSUNITEDNATIONS), Carriedo (AKSCARRIEDO), Doroteo Jose (AKSDJOSE), and Balintawak (AKSBALINTAWAK). Either pick-up or drop-off point should be pinned at select LRT-1 stations to avail of the exclusive promo codes. The Php40 discount will automatically be deducted from the final fare.
In the end, what matters is that you get to your destination safely, and spend more time with loved ones than with strangers on the road.
For more updates and info on the LRT-1, follow LRMC on Facebook at facebook.com/officialLRT1, Twitter at @officialLRT1, or download the ikotMNL mobile app for free on Google Play and App Store.