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Sunday, May 26, 2024

MRT firm files petition for P2 fare increase

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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday said the management of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has re-filed a petition for a fare increase before the agency’s Rail Regulatory Unit.

Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said no fare adjustment was approved for the MRT-3 for the last eight years.

Earlier, MRT-3’s fare hike petition was deferred due to “infirmities in complying with the requirements and procedure.”

MRT 3 filed for an additional P2.29 boarding fare and P0.21 distance fare per kilometer to finance its operating expenses.

As of November 2022, the MRT3 system’s total expenses amounted to P8.96 billion, while the total revenue amounted only to P1.1 billion, resulting in a deficit of P7.8 billion or a government subsidy of P88.34 for every passenger.

DOTr Secretary Jaime J. Bautista earlier approved the fare increase for the LRT (Light Rail Transit) line, adding P2.29 to the P11 boarding fare, and P0.21 to the P1 distance fare.

Chavez said the approval “is not only necessary, beneficial and practical for both the LRT operators and commuters, but also for the country as well.”

“Let’s make the rail system sustainable to build more and to serve more,” he added.

Chavez said the LRT-1 and LRT-2 deserve a modest fare increase after petitions were denied for the past eight years.

He said that the actual rates for end-to-end travel at the LRT-2 from Antipolo to Recto costs P178 per passenger, but only P30 is being charged.

“Therefore, P148 is the indicative subsidy by the government for every passenger for every end-to-end trip,” Chavez said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Chavez said the LRT-1 operators had also asked for a fare increase since 2016.

The LRT-1 runs from Baclaran in Parañaque City to Bago Bantay, Quezon City (Roosevelt); LRT-2 from Recto in Manila to Antipolo City in Rizal; and MRT-3 along EDSA from Taft Avenue to North Avenue in Quezon City.

But Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte appealed to transport officials to rethink their plan to hike LRT fares.

At the same time, Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party, appealed to President Marcos to suspend this fare-hike plan by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), respectively, for LRT Lines 1 and 2 (LRT-1 and LRT-2) and for MRT Line 3 (MRT-3), as he did in April.

He said officials at the DOTr, LRTA, and MRTC are “pulling the cart ahead of the horse in stressing that adjusting rates is necessary for Metro rail lines to boost revenue so they can spend more on improving the riding experience for commuters because the much better alternative is for them to first improve their train services before demanding higher fares from the riding public.”

Although there has been a steady decline in headline inflation since the start of the year up to May, Villafuerte said “the spike in commodity prices is higher than in previous years and continues to erode the purchasing power of ordinary Filipinos.”

Villafuerte also played down the argument by DOTr and LRTA officials that the government has been bleeding from continuously subsidizing train fares, considering that Malacañan Palace has been spending tens of billions of pesos yearly on subsidies for assorted sectors.

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