No LRT fare increase for now, says operator
There will be no fare hike just yet for the Light Rail Transit’s (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 as the proposed fare adjustment earlier approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) still has to undergo regulatory process, according to the train operator.
In a statement on Thursday, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said that all the nine members of its board of directors should first give their approval before a fare increase could be implemented.
“The approval of the LTFRB on the subject fare increase is in the nature of the said agency being a member of the LRTA board of directors, and not in the nature of a regulatory body,” it added.
Other members of the board are the Department of Transportation, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and two appointive directors of the LRTA—Dimapuno Datu and LRTA Administrator Hernando Cabrera.
Public hearing needed
“The fare increase must be approved by the LRTA board of directors, and must likewise pass through required regulatory process which includes public consultation/hearing,” the LRTA clarified.
The LTFRB earlier signed a proposal to raise the LRT boarding fare by P2.29 and the distance fare by 21 centavos. The current boarding fare and distance fare are P11 and P1 per kilometer, respectively. These rates have been in effect since 2015. The Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator and maintenance provider of LRT 1, said it would comply with the approved fare matrix set by the regulators.
“LRMC is ready to implement whatever new fares will be approved by our government regulators,” LRMC spokesperson Jackie Gorospe told the Inquirer.
Added financial burden
The company earlier sought a fare hike to help it recoup its investments in LRT 1 enhancements and the extension of the railway to Cavite. With the potential fare hike, The Passenger Forum convener Primo Morillo said that the government should provide subsidies so that commuters would not shoulder the financial burden.
“In times of crisis, the government should take action to provide subsidies for the people, particularly in mass transportation like trains,” he told the Inquirer, noting that this would bode well for the economy. In a statement sent to reporters, Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan lamented that the looming fare hike “comes amid record inflation affecting Filipino consumers.”
Reyes also pointed out that under the concession agreement between the government and LRMC, the government should shoulder the difference between the current and proposed fares if the fare hike would not be granted.
“In the end, taxpayers will be made to shoulder the fare hike. It is on record that private operator LRMC has filed for arbitration, demanding P2.67 billion in compensation after it was not allowed to raise fares in the previous years. This is how privatization burdens the people, commuters and taxpayers alike,” he added.