New car taxes, uninterrupted bus system planned
While still waiting for lawmakers to clear the special powers it needs to solve Metro Manila’s traffic crisis, the Department of Transportation is considering more short to medium-term solutions to cut road congestion.
These plans included imposing higher fees for owners of two or more cars and the conversion of the existing Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) to a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT).
“This time, we are looking very closely at adding higher registration fees for second cars,” Tugade said in a business forum on Friday organized by Colliers International. He said the department was also mulling to impose additional taxes on subsequent cars purchased.
Tugade declined to elaborate when later pressed for details.
Car sales in the country have been growing year-on-year, partly due to poor mass transit infrastructure in Metro Manila and as cheap financing has become available given the low interest rate environment.
The conversion of the LRT-2, which runs from Recto Avenue in Manila to Santolan along Marcos Highway in Pasig, would also be studied, Tugade said.
BRTs, which are specialized and dedicated bus systems, would be cheaper to implement and could carry more people “with the right buses,” Tugade said.
“This is not a new concept. We’re just copying from Hong Kong and Shanghai,” Tugade added. He was referring to some of the jurisdictions where the BRT has been successfully implemented.
Some Chinese cities have shifted from light rail to the BRT system, citing the need to cut heavy subsidies typically required to run a train system. Hong Kong’s MTR, however, stands out as a profitable major railway since it also earns revenues from developing real estate around its train network.
Tugade said it would be easier to convert the LRT-2 since there was currently no private sector involvement in the train line unlike the busier LRT-1 and Metro Rail Transit Line 3.
He gave few details, saying only the concept called for the removal of LRT-2’s rails to give way to a corridor for buses.
The LRT-2, which opened in 2003, is relatively the newest of Metro Manila’s three elevated train systems. Still, it was already showing signs of aging.
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