THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) has approved an Aug. 2 fare hike by Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, after the Palace had intervened to halt the original adjustment plan to seek a review.
In a statement, the DoTr said Secretary Jaime J. Bautista cleared the way for a fare hike following a cabinet meeting on June 6.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. had asked in April that the fare hike plan be reviewed.
The approval follows the release of favorable inflation and employment indicators, the DoTr said.
In May, the consumer price index slowed to 6.1% from 6.6% in April. It remained higher than the year-earlier rate of 5.4% a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in April from 4.7% in March. A year earlier, the reading had been 5.7%.
Assistant Transport Secretary for Railways Jorjette B. Aquino said that the fare adjustment will go towards enhancing services, amenities, and technical capabilities of the two commuter lines.
“We are aiming to make our rail services more accessible, convenient, and efficient for commuters,” Ms. Aquino said.
The DoTr’s Rail Regulatory Unit had previously approved the petitions seeking to increase the train boarding fee by P2.29 with an additional 21 centavos for every kilometer traveled on LRT 1 and 2.
The LRT 1 and 2’s minimum boarding fee thus becomes P13.29 plus P1.21 per kilometer for every kilometer traveled.
The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) plans to allocate about P110 million, or about 97% of the projected P114 million in additional rail revenue, for maintenance, operating expenses, and repair and upkeep of crucial rail systems and facilities, Ms. Aquino said.
“This will improve the turnaround time of equipment and ensure timely preventive maintenance activities for optimal performance,” she added.
In order for the fare adjustment to be effective, the LRTA and the Light Rail Manila Corp. must publish the approved fare adjustments in at least one newspaper of general circulation for three consecutive weeks.
“After which, 30 days after the last publication date will be the collection date — Aug. 2,” she said.
Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Representative France L. Castro declared her opposition to the fare hike, noting that inflation remains high.
“Commuters are still reeling from the high prices of goods and services due to inflation, and they do not even feel that inflation is slowing down with their low wages. The proposed fare hike for LRT 1 and 2 will only add to their burden,” Ms. Castro said in a statement.
She said that public transportation is a basic service that should be accessible and affordable for all.
“The government should provide adequate subsidies to ensure that the fare remains affordable for the commuting public,” she added.
Ms. Castro said that the DoTr should reconsider the proposed fare hike and instead look for alternative solutions that will improve the quality of public transportation without burdening commuters. — Justine Irish D. Tabile