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(Updated 5:13 p.m., Dec. 29) Instead of going into upgrades, the additional revenue from the imminent fare hike for the Metro Rail Transit 3 will be used to pay the multimillion-peso monthly fees to the private concessionaire that owns the train line.
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya admitted Sunday that the estimated P1 billion additional income the agency will collect annually from increasing the MRT fare will go to the escrow account set aside for the payment of the government's monthly dues to the MRT Corporation under the build-lease-transfer agreement.
The income collected from MRT-3's operations is deposited in the escrow account as per the government's agreement with the railway line's private owner while the monthly payment to the MRTC is short by around P600 million, Abaya explained.
“Kung ano ang maidadagdag dito sa pamasahe, pupunta sa escrow. Doon sa P600 million na [kulang] monthly, ibabawas kung ano 'yung naipon for the month. Kung ano ang difference, yun ang ilalabas na pera ng gobyerno para sa month na 'yon,” he said.
Abaya earlier said the fare hike for both the MRT and the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 will result in improved services for the railway systems, which have long been plagued by glitches and breakdowns.
The fare increase, which will take effect on Jan. 4, has drawn flak from various sectors, including senators who said the DOTC should work on improving the MRT and LRT's facilities first before charging passengers more.
Although the additional fare will not be be used to overhaul the aging train line, Abaya assured the public that it can still expect a better MRT in the coming months as the DOTC has already begun procuring new railways, coaches and other equipment.
“The upgrade and rehab na dapat ilang taon nang nagawa at ngayon lang natin ginagawa ay nakakasa na para sa 2015. Halos sinasabayan natin yong improvement ng MRT at LRT 1 and 2,” he said.
Congress has allocated P1.2 billion for the rehabilitation of MRT-3 in the P22.4-billion proposed supplemental budget for 2014 and another P9 billion in the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015 for the railway system’s repair and rehabilitation. — Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News