Higher MRT, LRT fare looms
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing to release the decision on the proposed train fare increase as early as March after conducting a hearing on Friday.
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez told reporters on the sidelines of the hearing that he was aiming to submit the recommendation for the proposed hike in 10 to 15 days to Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista after reviewing the fare adjustment plea.
The proposal seeks to increase the base fare from P11 to P13.20 and the per-kilometer fee from P1 to P1.21.
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Hernando Cabrera said that on the average, passengers would pay an additional P4.50 per ride.
If all goes according to plan, Chavez said the decision—which involves Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) and Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 (LRT 1, LRT 2)—would be published within three weeks after its completion.
Chavez said another hearing might be conducted if additional documents were needed to make the decision.
The DOTr is also “confident” that the contractor of the 4th Generation (Gen-4) train sets purchased for the LRT-1, majority of which were found defective, can fix the light rail vehicles (LRVs) so they can be deployed to increase passenger capacity.
Chavez recently revealed during a House hearing that 80 of the 120 LRVs bought in 2017 from Mitsubishi Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A. (CAF) were unusable because of water leaks. These were delivered in 2021.
As such, the DOTr reached out to Mitsubishi CAF to address the problem.
“I am confident that the contractor can rectify the error here in Manila,” he told the Inquirer on Friday. Chavez noted that the Spanish company has a team in the country that can look into the matter.
“We’re not looking for another provider. We’re not sending them back,” he added.
As this developed, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Friday denounced the proposed fare hike for the LRT and MRT, saying mass transportation should stay “accessible and affordable to all.”
“Despite [others saying] that the proposed increase is minimal, it is not true for ordinary Filipino workers, especially for minimum wage earners. With record-high inflation, workers wages have further eroded,” the KMU said in a position paper.
Cabrera, for his part, noted that a fare adjustment committee which estimated the proposed fare hike, had factored in the higher inflation.
Higher gov’t subsidy
Infrawatch PH convener Terry Ridon suggested increasing the government subsidy for MRT 3, LRT 1 and LRT 2 so there would be no need for a fare increase.
Meanwhile, the DOTr announced the suspension of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) operation for five years to give way to the construction of the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR).
In a statement, Chavez said the suspension would speed up by eight months the laying down of NSCR tracks and other related construction.
The PNR Alabang-Calamba and Gov. Pascual, Malabon-Calamba routes are planned to be suspended by May while the Tutuban-Alabang route is set to be stopped by October.
Chavez said they planned to deploy buses for about 30,000 passengers on the routes to be affected by the closure.
The NSCR System, which is designed to serve over a million passengers daily, has 35 stations spanning 28 local governments from Pampanga to Laguna.
The railway project is seen to generate 50,000 direct jobs and 110,000 indirect jobs during construction and an additional 8,000 jobs when fully operational.