By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that it will first communicate with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to see if there is a way to not increase the fare for the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) Chief Executive Officer Juan Alfonso said that the LRT Line 1 (LRT1) is eyeing an “overdue” and “reasonable” fare hike ranging from P5 to P7.
Roque, in a Facebook live video answering questions from Palace reporters, said that the Palace will first communicate with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to see if it is possible to do away with the fare increase.
“Makikipag-ugnayan po ang Palasyo kay Secretary Tugade dito tungkol sa issue ng mas mataas na pamasahe sa LRT (The Palace will first talk to Secretary Tugade about the possible fare increase),” he said Wednesday afternoon.
“Titignan po kung magagawan ng paraan. Pero kung talagang hindi po makakayanan na ipagpaliban ang pagtataas ng pamasahe, ay tataas at tataas po yan (Let’s see if we can find a way to suspend the fare hike. But if not, then there will really be an increase),” he added.
According to Alfonso, LRT last had a fare hike in 2015. If approved, the P5 to P7-increase will be rolled out by August 2018. He said the fare increase would also enable the management to continue giving good service to commuters.
Currently, LRT1 fares range from P15 to P30 and the hike would mean a 23- to 33-percent increase from the current rates.
Alfonso also noted of the P8 billion that the LRMC had spent for system restoration and upgrading to ensure that LRT1 provides efficient services.
However, Bayan Muna slammed the proposal, saying it was insensitive and unwarranted.
LRMC had signed with the DOTr and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) a 32-year concession agreement for the P65-billion LRT1 Cavite Extension Project, and the operations and maintenance of LRT1.
One of its directives is to rehabilitate the 20 stations and train cars of LRT1 in 18 months, and extend the line from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite by 2021. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)