MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang believes the planned fare hike for the country's rail systems is necessary to avoid technical problems that could lead to disruption of train operations like what happened on Thursday morning.
A brake failure caused a Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train to stop past 9 a.m. Thursday, forcing passengers to walk to the nearest station. One person sprained his ankle while getting off the train.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the services of the MRT 3 as well as the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2 will be improved with additional funds from the fare hike.
"Certainly, the service will improve. We will have to see what else can be done to avoid disruptions like this particular one," she said.
On January 11, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) approved the increase in the fares for the MRT 3 and LRT 1 and 2 which is meant to cut costly state subsidies.
The increase, which will take effect on March 1, is provisional until a public hearing is held.
Some 1.2 million passengers who take both trains daily will have to shell out an average boarding fee of P11 and an additional P1 for every kilometer.
Several militant and consumer groups have planned protest rallies to oppose the fare hike.
The DOTC said additional funds to be raised from the fare adjustment will be used to hire additional personnel to hasten turnover at ticket booths, deploy more trains, and maintain facilities such as toilets and elevators.
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said the DOTC is now crafting a plan to restore the Philippine National Railways' services in Northern Luzon.