MANILA – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) needs to justify the fare hike that they implemented during the scheduled committee hearing on January 8, according to Congress.
The increase fare rate for the Light Rail Transit (LRT 1 and 2) and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT) took place last Sunday.
“If there is really a need for us to ask for a deferment, we will do it, we will ask for it,” said Catanduanes Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento.
Sarmiento added that the Congress should push for postponement of the fare increase or implement it on a staggered basis.
Aside from Sarmiento, two other senators criticized DOTC for implementing the new rates, which are about double the previous rates, during the holiday seasons while Congress was on a holiday break.
Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero said that they need to sit down and confront DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on what they deem as “treacherous” increase on train fares.
“That’s one of the issues we will ask of them. If there’s still a way, we can try to stop, and ask for their commitment to suspend it,” said Escudero.
Both senators said that the increase was not done properly because they Congress already approved allocations for the MRT and LRT in the 2015 national budget.
“I don’t see any reason to increase the fare, financially and practically. As to its benefits for the commuters, there’s no basis,” said Escudero during an interview at dzBB.
“It’s sad to think, but it appears they did something treacherous,” Poe said dzBB in a separate interview.
She added, “They have very bad services, and then they announced the increase while the public was on holiday, and they couldn’t go to court.”
Starting last January 4, the LRT and MRT fares went up by 50 to 87 percent with the new base fare at P11 with additional P1 for every kilometer. With the new rates, the end-to-end fare of MRT increased from P15 to P28. Meanwhile, fares for LRT 1 is P20 to P30 for single-journey tickets and P29 for stored-value cards, while for LRT 2 fares increased from P15 to P24 for stored-value cards and P25 for single-journey tickets.