No consensus on MRT, LRT fare hike
MANILA, Philippines – When will the Transportation department implement a fare hike for Metro Manila's railway systems? How much will the increase be?
Nothing has been decided yet, the department said after a public consultation on Thursday, December 12. The consultation ended with no consensus among transport officials and consumer groups on the proposed fare hike for Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3.
A P10 increase for the train lines was approved by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) in June, but talks with stakeholders must be undertaken before this could be implemented. The P10 increase was eyed to be imposed on staggered basis: P5 this year and the other P5 next year.
But on Thursday, LRTA spokesperson Atty. Hernando Cabrera said, "nothing is final."
Both LRTA and MRT 3 operator, Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), presented their proposed new fares, reiterating the need for an increase since the train lines have been operating at a loss.
Based on 2012 financial records, LRTA said LRT operations had a deficit of P4.704 billion, while MRT 3’s deficit was P7.250 billion.
LRTA said the train lines have been relying on government subsidies to operate.
The Transportation department said that the government has been subsidizing 59% of the fares for LRT 1 and 2 or P34.74 per passenger, and 77% for MRT 3 or P41.46 per passenger.
"We are about to schedule the board meeting. The implementation of the proposed fare hike is not something that we can target," Cabrera said.
The railway operators are proposing to rationalize the fare system by adopting the "users pay" principle.
Under this principle, commuters will be charged based on distance travelled, instead of the current scheme wherein fare is based on the number of stations that passengers pass through.
The proposal is a rehash of what was presented in 2011: the P11 plus P1 formula.
The P11 plus P1 formula means that passengers will be charged P11 upon boarding, plus P1 for every kilometer travelled.
The operators are proposing to implement the following fares:
- LRT 1 from Baclaran, Pasay City to Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City: P30 from P20
- LRT 2 from Recto Avenue to Santolan Avenue: P25 from P15
- MRT 3 from Taft Avenue, Pasay City to North Avenue, Quezon City: P28 from P15
These proposed fares, the DOTC said, will generate a total of P2.06 billion for LRTA and MRTC – an amount that will be deducted from government subsidies. (READ: MRT fare hike a ‘bitter pill to swallow’ – Palace )
Subsidy savings will be used for the improvement of rail facilities and services, DOTC stressed.
Groups however are strongly opposing the new fares.
Partido ng Mangagawa spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said that it is unfair for government to remove the subsidy, saying this is needed to help the working class and lift more people out of poverty.
Citing a 2007 Mega Manila Public Transport study, he emphasized that around 68% of MRT and LRT users earn P10,000 a month or less.
For his part, Samuel Malunes, convenor of commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan, warned a fare increase would mean "economic disaster" for Filipino commuters.
He stressed the fare hike proposal comes at a bad time, given that consumers are also dealing with high power rates and oil price increases.
"This push for a fare hike, which comes in the wake of significant increases in the prices of LPG and other petroleum products and proposals for a record-high power rate of Meralco, is part of the economic disaster that the Aquino government is cooking up against the majority of Filipinos," Malunes said.
Cabrera assured the groups that all points raised during the consultation will be deliberated on when the LRTA board meets again.
"Everything that has been raised and recorded in this consultation will be presented and discussed by the board," he said. – Rappler.com
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