MRT, LRT fare increase necessary, says Roxas | Inquirer Business
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MRT, LRT fare increase necessary, says Roxas

/ 01:00 AM September 08, 2011

An increase in train fares is a bitter pill that Metro Manila commuters will have to swallow soon if services are to be improved, the Department of Transportation and Communications said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas II said forcing taxpayers from all over the country to pay for the services of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train lines, in the form of billions of pesos in government subsidies, should stop soon.

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“President Aquino has been feeling the pulse of the riding public since almost a year ago by deferring the fare hike,” Roxas said.

“However, it has reached a certain level that the need to implement the long-overdue and approved increase be in effect in order to further improve current (train) operations and services,” he said.

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Roxas said the “time is ripe” for Metro Manila train commuters to share the burden through the implementation of long-overdue fare adjustments.

“We can use the taxpayers’ money in executing development programs in other regions and provinces instead of merely subsidizing train fares of train passengers in the metropolis,” he said.

LRT and MRT fares were last raised in 2002.

With operating expenses of the three train lines continuing to increase over the past years, Roxas said the government had to find additional budget to cover these costs.

In order to continue its daily operation, the government allocates at least P55 for every train passenger on the LRT and MRT train systems to cover power consumption, general maintenance and other overhead costs.

Currently, MRT and LRT commuters pay between P10 and P15 to ride the trains, with the balance shouldered by the government through subsidies.

Last year, the DOTC approved a hike in fares to a maximum of P30 per passenger. The implementation of the new fare structure was deferred in lieu of the rising prices of fuel and other basic commodities.

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The Senate is currently debating on the approved fare hike and the appropriation of government budget, with lawmakers from the provinces raising their concern that taxes paid by their constituents be used in other initiatives rather that subsidizing MRT and LRT’s operations.

Roxas said that in order to provide the riding public an efficient and trouble-free train services, there was an urgent need to conduct regular preventive check to ensure that the train’s signaling system, gauges and other critical mechanical parts are well-maintained.

“Our train systems are now in the ‘curative’ stage and before it reaches the level where all parts bog down and fail to operate that might cause a major disaster, there is a need to conduct preventive maintenance,” Roxas said.

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TAGS: Business, fare increase, light rail system, Transport
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