Saturday, September 17, 2011

Keep large fare subsidy to LRT, MRT riders, TUCP urges gov’t

LRT coach

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 17, 2011) - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged the Aquino government to keep at current levels its fare subsidy to the more than 1.1 million commuters that take Metro Manila’s three overhead trains every day.

“It is perfectly acceptable for government to continue to spend large amounts of money to keep fares relatively low, so that commuters won’t have to spend extra for any unwanted toll increases,” said TUCP Secretary-General and Ernesto Herrera.

Ordinary compensation earners comprise the vast majority of passengers who use the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT 3) to go to work every day, Herrera said.

“These compensation earners are the most heavily taxed Filipinos. Almost 90 centavos out of every peso in personal income taxes collected by government is taken out of the pockets of salaried employees and daily wage workers,” he said.

“It is only fair that some of the taxes they pay be returned to them in the form of, among others, an inexpensive, safe and fast public transport service,” he added.

Any upward fare adjustment would be a bitter pill to swallow for commuters, in light of the staggering increases in the daily cost of living, according to the former senator from Cebu and Bohol.

Herrera’s remarks came shortly after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) presented its proposed P34.6-billion budget for 2012 to Congress.

The proposed budget implies a P2.63-billion cut in the subsidy to the operations of the elevated trains, and a potential fare increase.

The DOTC-attached Light Rail Transit Authority previously approved higher fares for the trains. However, the implementation of the new fares was later deferred, partly due to mounting opposition.

Based on the approved rates, commuters on the 17-kilometer MRT 3 on EDSA will pay a minimum of P15 from the current P10, and P30 from the prevailing P15 for the end-to-end trip.

The same new fare matrix will also be applied to the 15-kilometer LRT Line 1 from Baclaran in Pasay City to Roosevelt Avenue in Caloocan City, and the 13.8-kilometer LRT Line 2 from Marcos Highway in Santolan, Pasig City to Recto Avenue in Manila.

MRT 3 moves some 487,000 commuters every day, while LRT Lines 1 and 2 convey some 432,000 and 176,000 passengers respectively.

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