There will certainly be an increase in fares for Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) due to the rising price of electricity and spare parts of trains needed for its operation and maintenance.
“It is not only necessary but inevitable that at a certain point in time ay kinakailangang itaas ang pamasahe. Ang tanong na lang ay magkano,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) undersecretary Cesar Chavez said in a radio interview.
However, a group of transport consumers group asked the department to justify the hike including the planned privatization of MRT-3.
“Ano ba ang nangyari bakit sinabing nalugi? Ano ‘yung pinagkalugi kasi ang gobyerno hindi naman negosyo bakit nalugi?” said Atty. Ariel Inton, president of Lawyers for Commuters Safety Protection (LCSP).
“Justify to the commuters, bakit kailangan natin itaas,” Inton added, referring to the increase in fares.
Inton, a former board member of Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), also questioned the necessity to privatize MRT-3 operation and maintenance.
“Ang tingin po namin diyan, walang pondo na inilaan para i-subsidize. There is no loss, there is just no money to subsidize,” Inton said.
The MRT-3 train line started its operation in December 1999 after the build-lease-transfer agreement that allowed the train’s construction in 1996.
Among the consortium that constructed the train line were Ayala Land, Greenfield Development Corp. of United Laboratories, Ramcar Inc. of the Agustines family, Anglo-Phil Holdings Corp., and Fil-Estate Management.
It was leased to and run by the government for 25 years via the DOTC.
On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation said it is looking into giving the private sector operators control over MRT-3’s Operations & Maintenance (O&M) to boost “operational efficiency.”
“We are looking at partnering with private rail operators for DOTr MRT-3’s operations and maintenance under the same scheme with LRT 1 with the rail lines assets remaining government owned,” Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said in a media statement.
“Railway systems should remain the most affordable and safest mode of mass transit in the country,” Bautista added.
To maintain reasonable fares, the transport department said the government would continue to fund the operation of the metro’s LRT 1, LRT 2, and MRT-3 lines.
Photo Credit: PTV