By Denise A. Valdez
THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation (DoTr) said the target implementation of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) fare hike this month, as proposed by operator Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), may not push through as public consultations still need to be conducted.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the department will have to hear the position of other stakeholders before assessing and making a decision on the LRMC petition.
LRMC filed a P5 to P7 fare increase petition in March, the second time it applied since the company took over the train system in September 2015.
The current fare in LRT-1 is P15, P20 and P30, depending on distance travelled. No fare hike has been implemented since January 2015.
In a text message to BusinessWorld, LRMC Corporate Communication head Rochelle A. Gamboa said current operations will not be affected if the fare hike petition will not be granted this August.
“We will continue to operate and remain hopeful that Concession Agreement will be honored,” she said.
“For now, we would just comply with the process. LRTA (Light Rail Transit Authority) Board has yet to conduct a public consultation,” she added.
Part of the government’s concession agreement with LRMC is a 5% increase in LRT-1 fares every two years and the extension of the train line from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite.
LRMC President Juan F. Alfonso, in a briefing in May, said, “Under the concession agreement, for example hindi mabigay yung fare increase, government yung magsa-subsidize nung P5 (if we are not granted the fare increase, the government would have to subsidize the P5).”
Mr. Tugade said on Wednesday that he certainly would not want the government to subsidize anything.
“I really do not want that government subsidy. When a proponent wants to enter a business, they should be capable,” he said in Filipino.
The transportation secretary also said that the extension of the LRT-1 to Cavite, Bacoor should not depend on the approval of LRMC’s fare hike petition.
LRMC said in a statement on July 12 that the fare hike is essential to push through with the Cavite extension plans for LRT-1.
“A P5 increase in LRT1 fare will assure the construction of its extension to Sucat, Las Piñas and Bacoor, allowing at least 300,000 of residents each day to get to and from home in just minutes from Baclaran without traffic,” it said.
Construction work for the P2.874-billion Cavite extension was originally scheduled to begin in October, and will take four years to complete. It will add eight new stations, namely: Redemptorist, NAIA Avenue, Asia World, Ninoy Aquino, Dr. Santos, Las Piñas, Zapote and Niog.
LRMC is the consortium of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.
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