DOTC, MPIC-Ayala group eye early turnover of LRT 1
The Department of Transportation and Communications is open to the early turnover of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 elevated train to the private sector consortium that won last year the right to expand and operate the railway line.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya told reporters that the DOTC was in talks with Light Rail Manila Consortium, a joint venture between Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp., for the turnover and that final details were being hammered out.
Abaya said the plan was to transfer operations of LRT 1 to Light Rail Manila within this month or October “at the latest.”
“There is a mutual interest that they assume earlier. We are working for that [ transfer] this month,” Abaya said. He declined to give a transfer date as all stakeholders have yet to agree on this.
A Light Rail Manila official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Light Rail Manila earlier sought to assume operations of LRT 1 in September 2015, a month ahead of what was stated in its agreement with the government.
This would give it control of one of three elevated trains in Metro Manila that serve more than one million commuters daily.
LRT 1 alone handles about 460,000 passengers per day, based on figures from the Light Rail Transit Authority last year.
The LRT 1 project was packaged as a P65-billion public private partnership deal, involving an 11.7-kilometer extension from the present end-point in Baclaran to the Niog area in Bacoor, Cavite ,and the operations of the whole line.
Earlier, Light Rail Manila noted that final details needed to be hashed out, including the question on whether fares would be increased or if government would compensate it.
The DOTC had increased fares at all elevated train lines on Jan. 4, 2015, but the consortium said that in the case of LRT 1, this was only 90 percent of what was promised under the concession agreement.
Abaya last month assured commuters that no more train fare hikes would be implemented under the current administration, and that Light Rail Manila would be compensated instead.
Ayala and Metro Pacific earlier sealed a strategic partnership to bid for railway projects in Metro Manila.
The two groups had also won the automated fare collection system PPP, which calls for the implementation of a tap-and-go payment scheme at LRT 1, LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit Line 3 by this month.
Ayala and Metro Pacific are bidding for the LRT 2 operations and maintenance PPP project, now under procurement. Both are also in talks to bid for the P170.7-billion South Line of Philippine National Railways’ North-South Railway PPP deal.
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