LRT, MRT fare hike looms

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

AS RESIDENTS in Metro Manila and nearby provinces brace for sudden power rate hike, they could also face fare increases on mass rail transits as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) conducted Thursday a one-time public consultation on the issue with the hope to raise at least P2-billion to lessen the government's subsidies.

The DOTC, along with Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), and Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3), presented a proposal to increase fares for the LRT and MRT lines during the consultation conducted at the LRT-2 Depot in Santolan, Pasig City.

"The LRTA and MRT-3 now propose to rationalize the fare system by adopting the 'users pay' principle, whereby commuters will be charged based on the distance they travel instead of the number of stations they pass. This will also bring LRT and MRT fares closer to those of other public utility land transport options," DOTC said.

Under the proposed "11+1" formula – which means that passengers will be charged P11 to board the trains plus P1.00 for every kilometer traveled – an additional P2.06 billion in revenues will be earned by the LRTA and the MRT-3, it explained. This will be deducted from the subsidy that government will continue to provide.

"These added revenues may then be used to enhance services at the rail lines by improving facilities and providing better maintenance works," DOTC said.

According to the transport agencies, LRTA and MRT-3 are both operating at a loss, requiring the National Government to subsidize much of their expenses. These include daily operating expenses such as overhead, power supply, and salaries. They also include costs for repairs and replacement of train and rail parts, and for the payment of existing debts.

Based on their 2012 financial records, the LRTA had a deficit of P 4.704 billion, while MRT-3’s deficit was at P 7.250 billion.

The average cost per passenger for LRT 1 and 2 was at P34.74. Fifty-nine percent of this, or P 20.46, was shouldered by the government, and only 41 percent, or P 14.28, was actually paid by the commuter. In the case of MRT 3, the average cost per passenger was P53.96. Seventy-seven percent or P41.46 was subsidized by government, while only 23 percent or P12.40 was paid by the passenger.

The DOTC said that part of the reason why the national budget subsidized these amounts is because there has been no rail fare increase since 2003. In fact, only LRT-1 has raised its fares over the course of its existence. LRT-2 has charged the same rates since it began operating in 2002. Meanwhile, MRT-3's fares went down by more than half the original rates from 1999 to 2001, and they have never been raised.

As a result, it is cheaper to travel on any of the three rail lines compared to jeepneys, buses, and UV Express services, on an endpoint-to-endpoint basis.

After the consultation, the DOTC said that they will now evaluate whether or not it is timely to implement the proposed fare increase. (SDR/Sunnex)

Local news

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