Wednesday, January 5, 2011

LRT, MRT fare hikes get Cabinet economic team's nod

Proposed fare hikes for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT), which comprise Metro Manila’s increasingly important commuter rail system, have been endorsed by the Cabinet's economic cluster although these are still subject to approval and public consultation, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Wednesday.

In a phone interview with GMANews.TV, DOTC Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus said the economic cluster agreed that the LRT and MRT fares, which the government has long been subsidizing, should be increased because the subsidy must be reduced. 

"They [Cabinet members belonging to the economic cluster] endorsed it but the one that will approve it will be the LRTA [Light Rail Transit Authority] board. It's not Malacañang that approves that," De Jesus said. 

The LRTA Board of Directors, which has the authority to approve MRT and LRT fare hikes, is composed of De Jesus as chairman, DOTC Undersecretary Glicerio Sicat as principal representative, and the following members:

  • LRTA Administrator Rafael Rodriguez, 
  • Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr., 
  • Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, 
  • Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, 
  • Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, 
  • Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Dante Lantin, 
  • Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, and 
  • lawyer Justino Bernas representing the private sector.
At least three of the board members — Paderanga, Purisima, and Abad — are also members of the Cabinet's economic cluster.

De Jesus said the board will meet on January 11 to tackle the issue. If the fare hikes are approved in principle, they will be subject to public consultation. 

If the public consultation produces a positive result, the fare hike will be publicized and then implemented, he said.

De Jesus refused to disclose the amount that may be added to current LRT and MRT fares, but made assurances that government subsidy will remain "substantial."

"There will still be a substantial subsidy. Mababawasan lang ng konti [The reduction will be slight]," he said. 

The DOTC has earlier said that in the case of the MRT-3, the government currently subsidizes up to P48 for each passenger, because the real cost of a P15 trip is P63.

At present, commuters using the MRT pay between P12 to P15. The MRT, which follows the circumferential route of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue Extension in Pasay City. 

The LRT-1 connects Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in southern Metro Manila, while LRT-2 connects Marikina City to Manila.—Jam L. Sisante/JV, GMANews.TV

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