MANILA — Malacanang has asked for understanding from the public, saying the time has come for the government to implement the long-delayed minimal fare increases both on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems.
”The implementation of the fare increases has been postponed several times already. The time has come to implement the minimal fare hike,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in an interview over the DZRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.
Coloma explained that the government has been spending PhP25 and PhP45 as subsidy for every passenger of LRT Lines 1 and 2 and MRT-3, respectively. The maximum LRT and MRT fare is PhP15.
”According to the 2013 State-of-the-Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III, there is a need to end the government subsidy for lower LRT/MRT fare hike,” the Palace official said.
”In fact, even our countrymen living in the Visayas and Mindanao who are not riding LRT/MRT are also paying for this subsidy,” he added.
According to Coloma, the President has said it is reasonable to adjust the LRT and MRT fares near to what the air-conditioned buses charge to the passengers.
”This (subsidy) can be set aside for other important social services that will benefit millions of Filipinos,” Coloma said.
He also explained that the LRT and MRT fare hike will not trigger increases in prices of basic commodities because “these do not use petroleum products.”
”It is not applicable to LRT and MRT because the system uses electricity and not petroleum products,” Coloma said.
However, Coloma clarified that the Palace will not prevent groups of train riders from seeking legal remedies to stop the fare hike.
”For as long as their plans (to seek legal remedies) are based on the right process, we will respect their opinions,” he said.
On Saturday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced the new base fare would be PhP11 and an additional PhP1 per additional kilometer for all existing three train lines –- LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 — beginning Jan. 4, 2015.
With the new fare adjustments, the LRT-1 fare from Baclaran to Roosevelt will increase from PhP20 to PhP30, while that of LRT-2 (Recto to Santolan) will adjust from PhP15 to PhP25.
The MRT-3 from North Ave. in Quezon City to Taft Ave. in Pasay City via Epifanio Delos Santos Ave. (EDSA) will have new fare of PhP28 from the current PhP15.