Jaime Augusto, Fernando Zobel de Ayala ride MRT, inspect LRT
MANILA, Philippines – A viral Twitter post on December 14 showed that no less than Ayala Corporation Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was standing among passengers of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) around 6 am on Monday, December 14.
The photo, taken by marketing professional Owen Madlangsakay, quickly spread on social media. Netizens had mostly positive reactions to the fact that one of the country's richest men was riding the mass rail transit system.
It turned out that the well-known business leader, popularly referred to as JAZA, and his brother, Ayala Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala, were on a field visit to check Metro Manila's 3 elevated railway transit systems – MRT3, Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT1), and LRT2, the Ayala Corporation corporate communications department told Rappler on Monday afternoon.
The 3 systems are now using beep™ cards, the unified automated fare collection system developed by AF Payments Incorporated, of which Ayala Corporation is a shareholder.
The beep™ cards have been fully operational since October 5 this year, aiming to provide a seamless transfer from one train line to another. (READ: beep™ cards now fully operational on MRT3, LRT1, LRT2)
The field visit also included a tour of LRT1 and a disussion of the improvements needed to be done by Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), an affiliate of Ayala's transport infrastructure arm, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation.
The group of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and Ayala Corporation is spending about half a billion pesos for the next 12 to 18 months to rehabilitate and upgrade the 20 stations of LRT1. (READ: Rehabilitation of LRT1 stations to start in December)
LRMC took over the LRT1 operations and maintenance back in September. The corporation is 55% owned by MPIC, 35% by Ayala’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, and 10% by Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Private Limited.
LRMC said in October that all LRT1 passenger stations "will be improved to enhance accessibility, safety, and security of commuters." (READ: MPIC, Ayala promise uninterrupted LRT1 operations)
LRMC also bagged the P64.9-billion LRT1 Cavite extension project after it offered a P9.35-billion premium payment to the government. The consortium already paid 20% of its premium offer during the concession agreement signing in October last year. It is scheduled to pay the remaining balance over the life of the 32-year concession period.
LRT1 and beep™ cards are two of the public-private partnership (PPP) projects that Ayala Corporation has interests in.
Ayala Corporation is the holding company of one of the oldest and largest business groups in the Philippines. The more than 180-year-old conglomerate has interests in real estate, financial services, telecommunications, water infrastructure, electronics manufacturing, automotive distributorship and dealership, and business process outsourcing.
It is also investing in power generation, transport infrastructure, and education. – with a report from Lynda C. Corpuz/Rappler.com