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DOTr seeks new LRTA role

/ 12:12 AM September 14, 2016

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) wants to transform the Light Rail Transit Authority into an independent rail regulator with “minimal” conflict of interest.

This was among the multisector reforms it was pursing in line with its request for special powers from lawmakers.

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LRTA currently oversees Metro Manila’s LRT elevated train systems, both as a regulator and operator.

LRTA still operates the LRT-2, the newest of three elevated trains serving Metro Manila.

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It operated  the LRT-1 until September 2015, when the Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.-led consortium took over.

The Metro Rail Transit Line 3, meanwhile, is being operated by the DOTr.

In its letter to Sen. Grace Poe, who is heading the committee on public services, the DOTr said the LRTA would “evolve from being an operator-regulator to an independent regulator with powers to set and enforce fares, safety standards and service levels.”

The agency added that LRTA would also manage the implementation of public-private partnership concession agreements, such as the LRT-1 Cavite extension deal.

The DOTr said the move would narrow the LRTA’s focus, while it “minimizes conflicts of interest.”

That conflict was underscored under previous administrations, more recently, ahead of the last fare hike at the LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 in early 2015.

Without special powers, DOTr noted in its letter to Senator  Poe that LRTA “continues to regulate its own operations, limiting its ability to independently enforce, monitor, verify compliance to standards and rules.”

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DOTr spokesman Cherie Mercado said in an interview Tuesday that a final plan for which entity will operate LRT-2 has not yet been set.

This was partly because the DOTr was in the process of finalizing details regarding the bidding of the operations and maintenance contract of the LRT-2 under the PPP scheme.

That PPP was among those left hanging by the previous administration, partly because of its bid timing so close to the May 9, 2016 polls.

Four groups pre-qualified to bid for the LRT-2 PPP deal.

These are the tandem of Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., San Miguel Corp.,  Aboitiz Equity Ventures and the Consunji family’s DMCI Holdings.

LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 currently serve over 1 million commuters per day.

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TAGS: Business, Department of Transportation, DOTr, economy, Light Rail Transit Authority, LRTA, News
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