MRT, LRT fare hike is wrong says SolonBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino on Friday insisted that it is wrong for the government to push through with the fare hike for Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems.
“It is the duty and responsibility of the state to subsidize our railways because these serve the public good by transporting millions of people without causing traffic or pollution,” said Casino in a statement sent to reporters.
Various militant groups vowed to block any move by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to increase the fare for the two train systems. DOTC Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas told the House committee on appropriations on Thursday that there was no stopping the impending fare hike for the MRT and LRT rides.
He told Casino during the hearing on the DOTC budget that the fare hike, initially scheduled for implementation January this year, had already been deferred by President Benigno Aquino III owing to the public’s need for cheaper transportation and the hardships of life in the metropolis. This was however not permanent as the DOTC was already using up its savings just to shoulder the roughly P55 subsidy per passenger–and in a way leading to the neglect of some projects meant for provinces.
Being faster and more reliable modes of transport for those in Metro Manila, Roxas said that it was only right that the government reduce its subsidy for the MRT and LRT and increase their fare to match those of buses.
The initial plan was to increase MRT and LRT fares to a maximum of P30 per rider. This has earned much protest before and is once again facing opposition from the party-list lawmaker and various groups.
Both the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the Anakbayan vowed to stage massive protests in the wake of the DOTC chief’s announcement.
To Casino “the protests against the fare hike are justified and remain a powerful instrument to stop the increases. The people should continue to oppose the fare hikes.”
Roxas saw the P10 to P15 fare for both train systems as “unfair” for those in the provinces who also need transportation projects. He insisted that the P55 subsidy per train rider should be lowered.
Casino however said that the “MRT/LRT should charge cheaper fares than private buses, jeeps or taxis because trains are much more efficient, enjoy various exemptions from taxes and government fees, and do not have to accumulate private profits.”
“Instead of raising fares, the MRT/LRT management should correct the onerous contracts and guarantees that eat into its income and also add coaches to earn more,” the lawmaker said.