MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) defended its move to green light the fare increase for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT), which was based on laid-out procedures, its top official said Monday.
This is in light of ongoing improvements in the light rails systems, which include the replacement of rails in LRT 1 and MRT, DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya told reporters in a briefing Monday.
Abaya said the DOTC merely followed the procedures undertaken in the previous fare increase by LRT in 2003.
“We used the same procedures… We’re careful about that. 2011 palang napapag-usapan na ‘yan, wala pa sa executive,” he said.
“The procedures were laid out, we had public consultations. What was laid out, we’re just merely following,” Abaya added.
Abaya made the statement after Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), a former lawmaker and 17 other individuals asked the Supreme Court to stop the LRT and MRT fare increase authorized by the DOTC.
Petitioners, which include Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco and former LRT Administration chief Melquiades Robles questioned the fare increase – particularly the absence of public consultations.
While it was the petitioners’ rights to petition the high court on the fare increase, Abaya noted it’s about time to raise fares in the mass rail system.
“Just to put things in perspective, ang huling increase ng fares ng LRT 1 ay 2003… Mahigit isang dekada na,” he said.
“Ang LRT 2, nag-open ng 2003, hanggang ngayon wala pa ding increase. Ang MRT 3, noong nagbukas ay pababa ng pababa ang fares.”
“Tingin ko, hindi ganoon ang disenyo… Any logical infrastructure, one way or another, dahan-dahang pataaas dahil kelangang marecover ang costs at patuloy mo ma-maintain at mag-expand ang kanyang kapasidad,” he added.
The DOTC chief blamed the former administration for failing to adjust the fares of the mass rail systems in Metro Manila.
“Maiintindihan naman ng taong bayan na ginagawa namin ito… Na ito ‘yung nararapat. Hindi nga nagawa ng dati dahil kulang sa political will para ipatupad ‘yung nararapat at paraan din ito para sa kung sino man ‘yung papalit sa amin ay hindi na maranasan ang naranasan namin,” Abaya said.
The Cabinet secretary cited the supposed fare increase in LRT fares in the previous administration.
After improving services by adding more train coaches and installing air conditioner units in old trains, the fare increase did not come into fruition.
“Ngayon na gagawin ulit ito, kumbaga walang appropriate increase from initial investments, ngayon ay mauulit muli,” Abaya said.(MNS)