Lawmakers support Abaya’s MRT fare hike decisionBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—New Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya’s decision to reduce the state subsidy for the Metro Rail Transit is likely to draw criticism from commuters but some lawmakers believe that the move is necessary.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday said that the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) move to finally implement a P10 fare hike for MRT rides was “very reasonable and necessary.”
Abaya on Monday announced that they were pushing through with the plan to increase MRT fare, a plan earlier halted last year to make way for further consultations with concerned groups.
Marikina City Representative Miro Quimbo echoed Belmonte’s view on the issue, saying that although the move was unpopular “we need to accept that we have to make difficult decisions.”
He said that the fare increase was “necessary if our country is to improve. We need an increase in fares to reduce the state subsidy to it.”
“It is very unfair that the cost of running the MRT is being shouldered by tax payers who do not use it,” Quimbo added.
Abaya’s predecessor, new Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas has earlier told lawmakers how some DOTC projects in the provinces could not push through because they had to continue subsidizing the costs of MRT operations. He said that it was unfair that tax payers from the provinces had to shoulder the costs of operating train systems in Metro Manila.
“The MRT from the very start is heavily subsidized by the government. It will continue to be subsidized but less,” said Belmonte.
Quimbo said that the DOTC’s move to gradually increase the fares for train systems in the metropolis to match those for bus rides was acceptable.
The Marikina City lawmaker said that it was “unrealistic that the MRT rates are even lower than bus rates. Reality check na ito.”
Roxas has earlier pointed out that it was unfair that train rides which were faster and more efficient than other modes of transportation were priced lower than bus rides.