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Saturday, May 25, 2024

DoTr approves LRT fare hike

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Higher fees start Aug. 2, end-to-end tickets to cost up to P35

The government has approved a fare increase at the Light Rail Transit’s Lines 1 and 2 starting Aug. 2, raising the minimum boarding fee by 21 percent to P13.29 from the current P11, and P1.21 for every kilometer traveled, up from P1.

For the LRT-1 line, the end-to-end adjusted fares would rise by P5, from P30 to P35, for a single-journey ticket (SJT) on LRT-1 and by P6, from P29 to P35, for stored value card (SVC) holders.

LRT-2 riders will see end-to-end fares go up from P30 to P35 for SJTs and P28 to P33 for SVCs, the DoTr explained in a presentation.

Transport Assistant Secretary for Railways Jorjette Aquino said Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista approved the fare hike after a Cabinet meeting on June 6.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr’s) rail regulatory unit previously approved the petitions to increase the train boarding fee by P2.29 and the cost per kilometer traveled by 21 centavos.

Aquino said the fare adjustment allows the Light Railway Transit Authority (LRTA) to enhance the services, amenities, and technical capacities of the LRT-1 and LRT-2 in line with the government’s aim to improve the public transport infrastructure.

“We are aiming to make our rail services more accessible, convenient, and efficient for commuters,” Aquino said.

“We at the Department of Transportation believe that this fare adjustment will contribute to maintaining affordable mass transportation services for the two commuter-train lines,” she added.

With the fare adjustment, Aquino said the state-owned LRTA is eyeing to allocate about P110 million, which accounts for 97 percent of the projected P114 million additional rail revenues, for maintenance, operating expenses, and the much-needed repair and upkeep of crucial rail systems and facilities.

This will improve the turnaround time of equipment and ensure timely preventive maintenance activities for optimal performance, the rail official said.

Senator Grace Poe, however, said an improvement in train services and facilities should come first before any fare increase.

“Any fare hike is a pain in the pocket especially to our students and workers who live on a shoestring budget and rely on the cheaper mass transportation. As a privately-operated company, we expect the operators of LRT-1 to continuously invest in a better train system to make its venture profitable,” said Poe.

The senator said as for LRT-2, the government puts billions in subsidies through the budget every year.

“In the coming budget deliberation, we want to see how these subsidies are spent and ensure they benefit the passengers. If the service is good, there will be more passengers. It is only right that they feel the safe, comfortable, and modern train system on every trip,” she said.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro also hit the fare hike, citing the continued impact of high prices and low wages on the commuting public.

“Commuters are still reeling from the high prices of goods and services due to inflation, and they do not even feel that inflation is slowing down with their low wages. The proposed fare hike for LRT 1 and 2 will only add to their burden,” she said.

Castro said public transportation is a basic service that must be accessible and affordable for all Filipinos, especially those who rely on it daily for their livelihood.

“We should prioritize the welfare of the people, especially in these difficult times. The government should provide adequate subsidies to ensure that the fare remains affordable for the commuting public,” she added.

The party-list lawmaker called on the DoTr to reconsider the fare increase and look for alternative solutions to improve the quality of public transportation without burdening the people.

“We call on the government to prioritize the needs of the people, especially the poor and marginalized sectors. We cannot allow public transportation to become a luxury that only a few can afford,” she said.

In other developments:

* Seafarers will enjoy free Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) and Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) rides on June 25 in celebration of the Day of the Filipino Seafarer. The LRT-2 will provide free rides from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For the MRT-3, the free rides start from 5:30 a.m. until the rail line closes for the day.

LRT-2 runs from Recto in Manila to Antipolo City in Rizal, while the MRT-3 runs along the stretch of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City.

* The DOTr said portions of Commonwealth Avenue in Fairview, Quezon City will be closed from night to early morning beginning July 25 until Dec. 6 to make way for the construction of the Regalado Station of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7). In an advisory Monday, the department said the affected portion — from Regalado Avenue to Fairlane Street – would be temporarily closed to install the station’s steel structure. The road closure of the westbound lane will begin on July 25 until Nov. 26 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The eastbound lane will begin road closures on Aug. 8 until Dec. 6 during the same hours.

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