Senate to look into P6.7 B subsidy for MRT

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Friday, August 15, 2014


THE government is asking for a P6.6 billion subsidy for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) for next year and the Senate will assess when it hears the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) 2015 budget if the MRT can deliver on the "promissory note" it has attached to its request.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the requested taxpayer support for the 13-station 17-kilometer line is lodged in two items in the proposed P52.9 billion budget of the DOTC for 2015.

First is a proposed P1.92 billion for "operation and maintenance" of the MRT. The second one is a recommended P4.66 billion as "subsidy for MRT 3".

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"In addition, there's a special provision in the budget of the DOTC which allows the agency to use 'farebox revenue' and 'non-rail collections' in settling MRT's operating requirements and prior years' obligations," Recto said.

"In exchange for this amount, the DOTC is promising to reduce transfer time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes and decrease its load factor by 8 percent," Recto said, quoting from the proposed 2015 national budget Malacanang has sent to Congress.

For the whole rail sector, the DOTC is targeting an average speed of 48 kilometers per hour, a 90 percent on-time schedule and 4.48 million passenger kilometers travelled every day for 2015.

"As to service disruptions, it is keeping the number of what it calls 'passenger unloading incidents' to under 300 for the whole of 2015," Recto said.

"We would like to know if by giving the P6.6 billion, the DOTC can redeem on its promises," Recto said.

"I think the budget hearings to be called by the Senate will be some sort of diagnostics session on what ails the MRT and what its cures will be," he said.

Beginning 2013, the Aquino administration has attached "countable performance indicators and final outcomes" to every allocation it is asking in the national budget.

For the current year, Congress, through the national budget, has authorized P4.09 billion as subsidy to the MRT.

On top of this is a P1.81 billion allocation for its operation and maintenance.

"I think we should also look if the public is getting value for the money it is giving MRT this year," he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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