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MRT-3, LRT-1, LRT-2 seek fare hike

The Metro Manila Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 are seeking fare increases, according to Joseph Morong’s “24 Oras” report on Friday.

The LRT-1 proposed a fare increase to P17 to P44 from the current P11 to P30.

Meanwhile, the LRT-2 asked for fares to be increased to P14 to P33 in stored value tickets from the current P12 to P28. It also proposed a fare increase to P15 to P35 in single value tickets from the current P15 to P30.

The MRT-3, on the other hand, proposed a fare hike of P4 to P6.

The Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private sector operator of the LRT-1, said it incurred losses of almost P32 billion due to expenses which should have been covered by the 5% per year fare hike.

However, they were only allowed to increase fares in 2015.

“We are operating at a loss dahil nag-pandemic 2020, 2021 bagsak yung ridership natin,” Atty. Jhimmy Santiago, LRMC general counsel, said.

(We are operating at a loss because there was a pandemic in 2020. In 2021, there was a drop in ridership.)

The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), operator of LRT-2, said the fare increase petition would not affect passengers who only take two station trips.

“Seventeen percent hindi makaka-experience ng increase,” LRTA Administrator Atty. Hernando Cabrera said.

(Seventeen percent of riders will not experience the increase.)

However, several groups questioned the timing of the fare increase petitions amid the rising prices of goods.

“Dapat i-subsidize pa nga ng tuloy-tuloy yung pamasahe,” Kilusang Mayo Uno Vice Chairman Lito Estares said.

(The government should continue subsidizing fares.)

Meanwhile, other groups said there first needed to be a law that establishes the Rail Regulatory Unit (RRU) which approves train system fare increases.

The RRU and train systems were both under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

“Sila nag-apply, sila rin maga-approve, parang may ganoong problema,” Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said.

(They are the ones who apply for the increase, they are also the ones who approve the increase. There is that problem.)

However, Cabrera countered, “Yung batas creating DOTr, nandoon. DOTr has the regulatory power sa rail.”

(It's there in the law that created the DOTr.)

The decisions on the fare increase petitions would be released in March.

“[In the] concession agreement, sinasabi dito every two years ay dapat may fare increase. Pero sinasabi rin na kapag ang gobyerno ay nanahimik at hindi makapag-decision or ayaw ng fare increase, ang gobyerno ang dapat mag-subsidize,” DOTr Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said.

(In the concession agreement, it says there needs to be a fare increase every two years. But it also says that if the government takes no action and can't make a decision, or refuses to grant a fare increase, the government needs to subsidize the fare.) — Richa Noriega/DVM, GMA Integrated News