Commuters told to pay higher train fares next year-A A +A
Thursday, August 23, 2012
MANILA -- Passengers of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) would have to pay more than double of the existing fares as the government is bent to reduce the subsidy for the transit system by 2013.
Speaking at the House appropriations committee hearing on the budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Secretary Manuel Roxas II said "there will be changes next year" in the MRT fares.
At present, the maximum fare at MRT, which runs from Taft Avenue in Pasay City to North Edsa in Quezon City, is P15.
Roxas said the plan is to increase MRT fares that match the rates applied by buses because it "doesn't make sense that something faster, efficient and more reliable is cheaper than the latter."
"There will be changes next year because it would really be unfair to the areas in the provinces if we continue to subsidize Metro Manila as we have for the last 10 years," the Cabinet official said adding the government has already spent around P75 billion for MRT subsidies.
The DOTC earlier approved a base fare of P11, and an additional P1 for every kilometer. The hike was supposed to be implemented in March last year but was deferred due to public opposition.
Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said it is ready to question the legal basis of the fare hike before the Supreme Court.
"We will exhaust all legal options to stop the fare increase. The government might implement this after the 2013 elections because they will come out bad in the eyes of the public if they will impose the new fare matrix this year," Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a phone interview.
The planned increase came after Congress approved a lower subsidy for MRT fares.
From P6.92 billion in 2011, the government allocated only P4.29 billion in subsidy for MRT fares this year. This will go up to P5.12 billion under the 2013 proposal.
"Congress reduced the subsidy for the MRT and rightly so, reflecting the need of the representatives from the provinces to have larger funds for infrastructure," Roxas said.
Still, Roxas said the state was able to continue its subsidy for MRT fares through savings and by "not spending for other projects."
Lawmakers representing districts in Visayas and Mindanao had earlier complained that commuters in their areas will not benefit from the huge subsidy allocated for mass transport.
Last year, Senator Francis Escudero said that non-rail revenues can be tapped to subsidize the fare increases the government was planning to implement.
The Metro Rail Transit Corp., which operates the MRT, has been collecting and receiving income from ads and lease operations through its subsidiary, the MRT Development Corp.(Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)