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Brace for a fare hike, DOTC tells MRT, LRT passengers

By Paolo Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:22:00 07/30/2010

Filed Under: Railway

AROUND 500,000 people who take the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) every day should brace themselves for a fare increase.

?There?s no stopping a fare hike,? Transportation Undersecretary Dante Velasco said in an interview Thursday.

?The MRT?s operational costs and government subsidies are growing. The new government?s policy is to reduce these subsidies [which are] hurting the nation,? he added.

According to him, the Department of Transportation and Communications was also considering hiking Light Rail Transit (LRT) fares.

?We?re looking at it one train line at a time,? he said.

Administrator Melquiades Robles of the LRT Authority which operates Line 1 and 2 said they badly need a fare hike due to rising operation and maintenance costs.

?There is an urgent need to increase fares. We just have to set a board meeting and discuss the new rates,? he said.

Overdue

?The last time we had an increase was seven years ago,? Robles added.

The DOTC said the additional money from the fare hikes would help the government improve the overhead train system?s operations and increase the capacity.

Right now, the most that the MRT can charge a passenger is P15 for a single trip, making it one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to get around Metro Manila.

However, transporting a passenger on the train can cost as much as P60. The difference, Velasco said, was being covered by the government.

?We are now adopting a ?users pay? concept, wherein the people who use the trains are the ones who pay for the costs. When the government provides subsidies, all tax payers, whether they take the trains or not, are forced to pay,? he explained.

Earlier this month, DOTC officials said they were looking at ways for the MRT to make money to cover its operating and maintenance costs so that the financial burden would not be passed on to the riding public.

They also ruled out the possibility of a fare hike.

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino said ordinary tax payers had been forced to foot the bill of the rising costs of running the trains because of the previous administration?s refusal to hike fares.



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