By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Congress will work on granting the needed funds of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) so it can fast-track the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) and serve up to 500,000 commuters per day from the current 300,000.
In the proposed PHPP5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, the DOTr is asking for PHP2.9 billion for the MRT-3 rehabilitation project, in addition to the PHP549 million earmarked for the same item this year.
“We want MRT-3’s carrying capacity upgrade to succeed so that commuters will have faster, safer, and more convenient rides,” Quezon City 4th District Rep. Marvin Rillo, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said in a news release on Sunday.
MRT-3 moved an aggregate 98.3 million commuters in 2022, or 273,141 per day.
“We, in Congress, are prepared to provide the DOTr all the funding needed to renew the aging train line,” Rillo added.
One of the project targets is to enable MRT-3 trains to run four railcars at a time instead of three, thus allowing the entire line to transfer an additional 200,000 commuters per day, according to Rillo.
Likewise, the DOTr is asking Congress for PHP6 billion in subsidy for MRT-3 plus PHP1.3 billion for operations and maintenance.
The subsidy is meant to cover any deficiency in the train line’s operating income and help keep fares down.
At present, MRT-3’s fare box revenue and non-rail income are used to pay for the equity rental and other obligations due the Metro Rail Transit Corp., the private consortium that built the train line.
The elevated train line began operations in 2000 and was constructed under a 25-year build-lease-and-transfer agreement with the DOTr that will expire in 2025. (PNA)