Press Release
January 12, 2011

MRT-LRT fare hike should be bundled with added 'treats' to riders

Riders of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) should be treated to "added" or improved service in exchange for coughing up more pesos for their daily train commutes, Sen. Ralph G. Recto said Wednesday.

"Daily users of MRT-LRT will now have to shell out more cash for their train trips to work and school and back. Now, it would not be too much to ask for something in return such as fare discounts and additional new trains," Recto said.

Recto, Senate ways and means chair, said one welcome "treat" is to extend fare discount to thousands of students using the MRT-LRT systems who will have to scrimp on their "baon" and "gimik" to absorb the fare increase.

"Apart from the law-mandated discount that must be bestowed to senior citizens, the MRT-LRT operators should extend fare discount to students who make up a significant part of the daily ridership," Recto said.

Recto said "fare holidays" could also be offered on a more regular basis to mark special occasions or national holidays as a way of saying "thank you" to the commuters for helping the train systems to finally turn a profit.

He said another "treat or added service" is the introduction of new rolling stocks or coaches to accommodate the growing army of MRT-LRT patrons.

He said the additional coaches would cut down turn around time and avoid bunching up of commuters in every train stations.

The whole MRT-3 line is actually good for a daily ridership of 650,000 but only about 500,000 or even less are serviced daily due to lack of coaches.

The projected 650,000 commuters daily are factored in when government allocates its annual subsidy for MRT-3, which averages at P5 billion.

This year, the fare subsidy is pegged at P7.3 billion from last year's subsidy of P5.4 billion.

Recto nevertheless disagreed on the plan of the train operators to increase train speed from the present 40 kilometers per hour to 60 kph to address the low turn around rate of coaches.

"We can't substitute safety or efficiency for speed. A train travelling at 60 kph above ground will have grave safety repercussions, especially when the rail tracks and the entire infrastructure were not built for such speed," he said.

"The solution is to add more coaches not to hyperventilate the train's speedometer," he added.

The senator also said the government should clarify if future increases in aircon buses would trigger automatic adjustments in the fares of MRT and LRT systems.

"If we are pegging the train fares to that of the aircon buses, would this mean that they will increase the fares every time the aircon bus fare goes up?

The government has approved beginning March this year new fare rates for MRT and LRT systems with commuters of the EDSA railway paying a minimum fare of P15 from the current P10 and P30 from the current P15 for end to end destination.

The same fare matrix will be applied on LRT systems stretching from Baclaran to Roosevelt and Recto to Katipunan.

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