Fare hike ‘right thing to do’ - Palace

MANILA, Philippines – On the first working day after the controversial fare hike of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (MRT) was put in place, Malacañang said the increase is the “right thing to do.”

On Monday, January 5, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the fare hike is necessary as the government must think of the needs of those outside Manila. Government subsidies for the MRT and the LRT were decreased to provide more funds for new projects in other provinces.

“From P12 billion, we are lessening that subsidy to P10 billion. So of those P2 billion that we can save, we are going to allocate the resources outside of (Manila) in other areas like Visayas and Mindanao. I know that it’s difficult for those who are riding the public to see that,” he said.

“Of course MRT passengers are not happy with it, but we are looking at the bigger picture. As government, we have a responsibility outside Metro Manila.”

Lacierda also said the increase still makes the MRT and LRT cheaper than air-conditioned buses. He acknowledged the displeasure of the commuting public regarding the increase but vowed the fare hike would translate to better service.  (READ: Bayan Muna calls for holiday probe into MRT/LRT fare hike)

Among the awaited improvement are 48 additional train cars starting September 2015, the upgrade of the signaling system, and the repair of 25 light rail vehicles.

Improvements coming

“It will take time but you will see improvements happening,” Lacierda said, citing road repair and the improvement of procurement processes as examples of how the government has delivered on its promises. “We have will to do and finish what we’ve set out to do.”

He added, “We’re going to improve that service… that’s a commitment from us.”

A Supreme Court petition was filed also on Monday to stop the fare increases while youth activists greeted the first day of the implementation of the fare hikes with a protest Sunday, January 4, expressing their opposition to the government's move.

Starting Sunday, the maximum single journey fare in LRT-1 increased to P30 and P25 for the LRT-2. MRT3 fares for the 17-kilometer stretch from North Avenue to Taft Avenue will increase from P15 to P28. (READ: Added fare, added burden– Rappler.com