THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said Wednesday that it is open to proposals to privatize the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) which had to be partially shut down after a fire damaged the rail line’s power system last week.

“Those options are open. Whether it will materialize, only the future can tell,” Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the new Philippines AirAsia headquarters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City, when asked for comment on Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian’s proposal.

The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) has suspended operations in two stations of LRT-2 until mid-2020 due to fire damage sustained Thursday. It said it will take nine months to repair the damage that forced the closure of the last two stops heading into the Marikina Valley — Katipunan and Santolan stations.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Gatchalian said: “The LRT Line 2 is the only remaining segment among the three existing LRT and MRT lines that has yet to be privatized. The LRTA needs to seriously look into the privatization of the operation and maintenance of the LRT-2 in order to avoid disruptions in operations.”

The Senator added: “Bukod sa paglalaan ng ng libreng sakay para sa mga apektadong pasahero ay kailangang paghandaan din ng LRTA ang long-term viability ng linya. Sa ngayon ay pagsasapribado sa operasyon ng LRT-2 ang pinakamainam na solusyon (Beyond offering free rides to those affected by the shutdown, the LRTA has prepare for the line’s long-term viability. Privatization is the most appropriate solution).”

The LRTA has estimated that at least P430 million is needed to fix the damaged system, which will cover hiring a contractor and acquiring replacement parts.

The President’s Spokesman, Salvador S. Panelo, said at a Palace briefing Tuesday that “there should be improvement” in the LRTA’s management of the LRT2.

“You’re not maintaining it properly,” he said in the course of denying a state of crisis in Metro Manila’s transportation system.

According to the latest Number Quality-of-life-index, published in Deutsche Bank’s annual “Mapping the world’s prices” report, Manila ranked 54th out of 56 major cities in quality of life. The ranking is based on traffic congestion and commute times, purchasing power, regional crime and safety, overall quality of health care, general cost of consumer goods, and housing affordability, among others. — Arjay L. Balinbin