No MRT/LRT fare hike for now – DOTC chief

NO IMPROVEMENT in service, no fare increase. This was the assurance given by Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Tuesday regarding the department’s plans to increase fares at Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT).

“What assurance that the DOTC can give is that there will be no fare hike until we get doable things to improve the services done. There are certain things na hindi na para kang bumibili ng candies that you’ll do things overnight. What is doable will be done those that are not really doable. Probably we could do along the way,” he said after the hearing on DOTC budget.

Although Abaya said that the fare increase will not only defend on the approved budget to reduce the annual P5.1 billion national government subsidy to MRT and LRT, but also other factors such as improved services.

“However, deciding on fare hike is not really conforming to the budget. There are a lot of other factors that are considered.  One of which is that we have an improved service before you can demand P6 or 10 pesos fare hike,” he said.

Abaya said if the fare hike will take effect next year, the government will reduce around P900 million in annual subsidies to MRT and LRT, thus allotting more funds to other public basic services.

“The ‘small’ fare hike would be the effect of a reduction of P900 million in national government subsidy to MRT and LRT,” the DOTC chief explained.

Safety, additional coaches

Abaya also said that aside from improved services particularly the escalators and elevators, the primary concern of the agency is the safety of riding public and efficient transporting the passengers on time by adding additional coaches.

“First of all, safety is always primary concern of all things. In fact, if there is a decision to stop, we will make it, if the safety is at risk. It is primary in the operation of all DOTC assets. There is no issue of lack of budget. MRT is currently engaging in private sector maintenance contractor. What the important aspect of this is to supervise maintenance. If there are lapses, they should be properly penalized and of course, the inherent security measures that is to be conducted by DOTC,” Abaya explained.

As to the additional coaches, Abaya said that part of the improved services is to buy new units in order to have four coaches in every trip to accommodate more passengers.

“Buying additional coaches for MRT is part of the improved services were doing. We are really procuring additional coaches for MRT 3 that is approved by NEDA, and 52 LRT trains have been approved. For the first year, we plan to buy 26 additional. Sa isang biyahe, pwedeng four coaches,” he said.

He said if Congress approved the 2013 budget before January 1, 2013, the implementation of those various reforms in the MRT and LRT will commence immediately.

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