LRT1 fare hike delayed as gov't seeks 'win-win solution'
MANILA, Philippines – There will be no fare hike for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1) until the government speaks with the private concessionaire within the week for a "win-win solution."
This is the response of Transportation Spokesperson Cherie Mercado to reports that the Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC) – led by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and Ayala Corporation – could implement another 10% rate hike, as only "90% of what is committed under the concession agreement" has been implemented.
"We do respect the contract. This is why we are set to have [a] dialogue with LRMC on a possible win-win solution within the week," Mercado said in a press briefing in Mandaluyong City on Monday, August 8.
LRMC, the winning bidder of the LRT1 Cavite Extension project, took over the railway's operations and maintenance last September.
It was in December 2014 when the department implemented fare hikes for the 3 major train lines in Metro Manila, after several years of postponement.
Under Department Order No. 2014-014, the uniform distance-based fare scheme for all 3 train lines – or an P11 base fare plus P1 per kilometer – was adopted. (READ & WATCH: Engineers racing to fix LRT1)
According to Mercado, an LRT1 fare hike of 10% by August 1 is stipulated in the concession agreement.
But she said the fare hike will not be implemented as scheduled.
"We will ask them if they can defer the hike and what we can do in return. The government will try to go on the side of the commuters in terms of not having the fare hike for now," Mercado told reporters.
The previous government had compensated LRMC for the difference instead of implementing another fare increase. (READ: Aquino says reasonable to hike MRT, LRT fares)
But Mercado said the transportation department might not have funds for the remaining rail tariff committed to the consortium, saying that it will be the public who will also bear the burden.
LRMC had signed with the department and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) a 32-year concession agreement for the P65-billion LRT1 Cavite Extension, and operations and maintenance of the existing LRT1.
The consortium will operate and maintain the existing LRT1 and construct an 11.7-kilometer extension from the present end-point in Baclaran to the Niog area in Bacoor, Cavite.
The project was formally awarded to LRMC following the submission of a lone bid with a premium of P9.35 billion.
Meanwhile, Globe Telecom Incorporated has signed a deal with LRMC to provide free Wi-Fi services in all 20 LRT stations.
The agreement is expected to benefit around 400,000 passengers daily. – Rappler.com