Casiño suggests alternatives to increase MRT revenuesBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—A lawmaker opposing the impending P10 fare hike for the Metro Rail Transit system on Tuesday suggested other ways by which it could increase revenues without placing the burden on its passengers.
Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Teddy Casiño argued that mass transit systems like the MRT and the Light Rail Transit systems were created to “provide the public with cheap transportation services.”
He was reacting to new Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya’s announcement on Monday that his agency would finally push through with the plan to increase MRT fare by P10 by next year. This move had originally been initiated by his predecessor, new Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.
Roxas made a similar announcement last year, saying that fares for both LRT and MRT would be increased, but this was later on deferred to make way for further consultations with concerned sectors. He told legislators during deliberations on the 2013 national budget that they would insist on reducing the subsidy on the train systems.
Roxas pointed out how projects for the provinces were being neglected because of their continued subsidy for Metro Manila’s train systems.
But Casiño begged to differ, saying that the “justification for hiking MRT 3 fares defeats the purpose of constructing mass transit systems which is to provide the public with cheap transportation services.”
He urged the government to consider the following concerns:
1) removing unnecessary perks and bonuses to its management and correcting onerous loan and business arrangements entered into during the previous administration;
2) add trains to increase passenger revenues and build bike parking facilities to encourage people to ride bikes to the train terminals;
3) urge malls, business establishments and local government units near the train routes to contribute to its subsidy fund.
Casiño said that it was only right that the government continue to subsidize the MRT since it benefits not only commuters but also private companies whose employees ride the trains to work and businesses near MRT stations.
Citizens Battle Against Corruption Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna also believes that MRT passengers should not shoulder the cost of operating the train system. He pointed to private contractors and builders of the MRT, saying “dapat ay bawasan nila ang kanilang tubo (they should lessen their profits).”
“Dapat tandaan na public service ang negosyo ng tren (They should remember always that engaging in the rail system business is public service),” he said.