LRT-1 operator seeks gov’t approval to raise fares

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LIGHT RAIL Manila Corp. reported the daily ridership at Light Rail Transit Line 1 averaged 459,400 passengers during the first quarter. — BW FILE PHOTO

THE Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) is seeking to raise fares at the Light Trail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) by P5 to P7 in August.

In a press conference on Tuesday, LRMC Chief Executive Officer Juan F. Alfonso said the company submitted a letter to the government in March asking to adjust fares by an average of P5, and a P7 hike for the end-to-end trip from Baclaran to Roosevelt.

“What we’re doing right now is we’re coordinating with LRTA (Light Rail Transit Authority) to go through the process. The process involves publishing, and then public consultation, and then approval if we’re allowed to increase the fares,” he said.

If approved by the Department of Transportation, LRMC targets to implement the fare adjustment on Aug. 1.

At present, LRT-1 fares are P15, P20 and P30, depending on distance traveled. LRT-1 fares were last adjusted in January 2015, when it was still under the government.

LRMC, a consortium of AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Metro Pacific Infrastructure Corp. (MPIC), and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd., has been in charge of operations and maintenance of LRT-1 since September 2015.




LRMC said the fare increase is urgently needed to “catch up” with inflation, as well as to recoup the investments it has made to improve LRT-1 operations. The company said it has spent P7.5 billion to upgrade the existing system, repair of structural defects, and its on-going Cavite extension project.

Under the concession deal with the government, Mr. Alfonso said the company is allowed to adjust fares every two years.

“It’s a partnership. We made improvements, we made investments. We also gave the government support in terms of getting the tariff that was in the concession agreement… We’re trusting that the contract will be followed. All of our improvements have costs. I feel that people are willing to pay for good service,” Mr. Alfonso said in Filipino.

In 2016, LRMC also applied for a fare hike but it was rejected by the government. “It was P2.50 (increase) on average for the past two years. (The new fare adjustment) is a catch-up for the past two years,” Mr. Alfonso said.

He said the fare adjustment will allow them to continue delivering “good service” and help in increasing LRT-1 daily ridership to 700,000 to 800,000 by 2021.

For the first quarter of 2018, LRMC reported a 3% daily ridership increase to 459,400 passengers. The number of trips in a day also went up to 554 in March, from the 505 weekday average trips in March 2017.

MPIC is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Denise A. Valdez

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