Gov’t puts off LRT, MRT fare hikes anew
MANILA, Philippines—A long-delayed plan to hike fares at Metro Manila’s elevated railways would be delayed further as the transportation department has put on hold any increase while waiting for the outcome of a Supreme Court case over the power rate hike by distributor Manila Electric Co., a senior government official said on Wednesday.
The plan to increase fares for both Light Rail Transit Lines and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 was aimed at reducing billions of pesos in subsidies for the money-losing trains, with funds to be redirected to improving railway services and other government spending initiatives. Militant groups have likewise hit the planned increase as being anti-commuter and ill-timed.
“Obviously, you have to consider the condition and times,” Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya said on Wednesday, when asked about the timing for the fare hike. He said no new date for implementing an increase has been set.
Abaya noted that the P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour increase sought by Meralco has been a factor in the department’s decision to hold off from implementing any rate increase. The power rate hike has been deferred and the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order amid public outcry at the increase.
The Department of Transportation and Communications, which oversees the mass railway system in Metro Manila, had planned to hike rates in August last year although the plan has been eyed as early as 2011.
Rates would rise by an average of P5 for an “average trip,” the DOTC said under its “11+1” formula, which meant a boarding charge of P11 plus P1 for every kilometer traveled.
A public consultation was held in December last year, but the matter was not resolved.
The government said the plan was aimed at reducing subsidies for LRT1, LRT2 and MRT3 by P2.06 billion per year—savings it said could be pumped by the national government into other aspects of the economy.
Added revenues would likewise be used to rehabilitate aging infrastructure at the railway lines. LRT-1 last raised rates in 2003 while LRT-2 and MRT-3 have yet to adjust rates upward since they were built.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.