MRT bosses’ perks

The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is losing despite the gargantuan subsidy the national government allocates.
The MRT is losing despite the huge sardine-like volume of commuters who patronize it.

There must be a reason for it and to my mind, what Congress and President Noynoy must immediately do is to review the expenses incurred by MRT and the top-heavy management’s salaries, allowances, representation allowances and bonuses.

For all we know, the MRT is worse than the Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS).

The President and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) consider the claim that the MRT is losing and that it needs more subsidy and higher fares as gospel truth.

They have not even bothered to look into how the MRT incurred such losses when it is almost always fully packed. Ang kulang na lang, sumabit sa estribo ang mga pasahero!

Nobody even looked into the operational and other system expenses such as pilferage and outright inefficiency on the part of those who operate the trains.

Last week, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) called the proposed fare increase “harsh and unfair to minimum wage earners and other workers with fixed salaries.”

But the issue does not confine itself to minimum wage earners because it also concerns the junior executives, the small businessmen and all taxpayers.

“We consider the contemplated fare increases unreasonable and unnecessary, in light of government’s capability to continue subsidizing commuters,” TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.

“Government should be helping employees cost-effectively get to work fast every day, not make it difficult for them to do so,” Herrera stated.

House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo also asked the DOTC to conduct adequate public consultations on any upward adjustment in the MRT fare, warning that a sudden and excessive increase could boomerang and drive commuters to find other ways of going around.

But the DOTC appears to be more concerned with how much the MRT, the LRTs and the expressways can squeeze from passengers and motorists.

“The public consultations should be broad and exhaustive, to ascertain the exact amount that is least burdensome to and most bearable by commuters,” said Romulo.

“Clearly, there is risk that a large number of commuters will cease taking the MRT, and if this happens, the purpose of the fare increment will be defeated,” Romulo said.

“If some 500,000 commuters now take the MRT every day at P15 per trip, and the number drops to 250,000 once the fare is doubled to P30, then the effect will be revenue-neutral. Fare revenues will stay the same, with no net gain or decrease,” he pointed out.

The DOTC will have achieved nothing, except to make life more difficult for the ordinary commuter who now has to either pay double, or take a less efficient and more tiresome way to work or school, and get back home, he added.

But who cares? The DOTC and the advisers of President Aquino?


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