Supreme Court eyed to freeze imminent hike in light rail train fares

An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Lawmakers belonging to the Bayan Muna partylist said they would seek the intervention of the Supreme Court once the fare increase in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) is implemented in January.

Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said they would ask the high court for a temporary restraining order to halt the fare increase.

“The best way to defer the MRT/LRT fare hike is for the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against it,” Colmenares said.

He added that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) did not follow due process in implementing the increase, citing that no public hearing was conducted.

“We also fear that the P2 billion that DOTC intends to realize by increasing the fares of MRT and LRT would just be turned to pork barrel,” Colmenares said.

Before proposing any fare increase, Zarate said, DOTC and other concerned government agencies should first look into the high cost of operations and other financial aspects, such as the large amount of debt incurred by the project.

For example, it was important to know whether taxpayers are subsidizing debt incurred by the private consortium that built the MRT, Zarate said.

“There is need for the government to look into the operational costs of the MRT and LRT lines to check if there might be excessive expenses or mismanagement of funds,” he said.

Once the fare hike is implemented, a ride on LRT1, from Baclaran to Roosevelt, will cost P29, while a one-way trip on LRT2, from Santolan to Recto, will be P24, the notice from DOTC said. A full trip on MRT3, between North Avenue and Taft Avenue, will cost P28.

Currently, a ride on the MRT ranges from P10 to P15, while a ride on LRT1 and LRT2 costs from P12 to P15 and P20, respectively.

Colmenares questioned whether the fare increase was needed, noting that huge amounts have already been appropriated for MRT and LRT in the 2015 budget as well as in the 2014 supplemental budget.

The 2015 budget and the supplemental budget provided for MRT and LRT amount to at least P11.109 billion:
LRT1 North Extension (Common Station) -P 769,809,000.00;
LRT2 West Extension – P200,000,000;
MRT3 Rehabilitation and Capacity Expansion – P2,569,200,000;
Repair/Rehabilitation of LRT Lines 1 and 2 – P977,690,000;
MRT3 Rehabilitation and Capacity Expansion (Supplemental Budget) – P957,163,000;
LRT 1 and 2 Rehabilitation (Supplemental Budget) – P977,690,000; and
Mass Transport Subsidy – P4,657,504,000.

“Now, where will all these money go including the double entries for the LRT 1 and 2 rehabilitation if the fare hike is implemented?” Colmenares asked.(MNS)

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