MRT revenue dips to 4-year low: state auditors

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2019 09:32 AM | Updated as of Aug 15 2019 10:00 AM

Railway manager blames ex-maintenance provider 

Commuters in transit at the MRT-3 North Avenue Station in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Revenue collections of the MRT-3 fell to its lowest in 4 years in 2018, state auditors said following a reduction in the number of trains, which management had blamed on a former maintenance provider. 

The MRT, which runs the length of EDSA from Quezon City to Pasay City, ferried around 104.28 million passengers last year, down 26 percent from its 140.15 million riders in 2017, the Commission on Audit said in its annual report. 

Ticket sales slumped to P2.07 billion in 2018 from P2.78 billion the previous year, the report said. 

An average of 13 trains ran daily last year, down from around 20 trains during peak hours and 15 trains during off-peak hours in previous years, it added. 

"The cases in point do not only deny the riding public of an efficient, effective and secured transportation systems but undoubtedly impacted on revenue collections, depriving the Government of additional financial resources for payment of the MRT-3 equity rentals," said auditors. 

GOV'T SUBSIDY 

Revenues from tickets sales are used for equity rental fees, staffing and administration costs, as specified in the government's build-lease-transfer agreement with the Metro Rail Transit Corp. 

The government subsidizes deficiencies in revenue collection. Last year, it shouldered 64 percent or P4.66 billion out of the total equity rentals of P7.23 billion, said COA. 

This was higher compared to the government subsidy of P4.29 billion in 2017 and P3.41 billion in 2016, auditors said. 

"The operations of the present MRT-3 system needs to be greatly improved to increase collections. Otherwise, it would adversely impact on the capacity of DOTr-MRT3 to self-finance the payment of its obligations to MRTC and would require a greater government subsidy," the COA report read. 

The Department of Transportation took over the MRT's upkeep in November 2017 after terminating the maintenance contract of Filipino-Korean consortium Busan Universal Rail Inc due to alleged poor performance that led to chronic service interruptions at the capital's main railway. 

MRT MANAGER ON DEFENSE 

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BURI was supposed to overhaul 40 MRT trains, but only fixed 3, which eventually broke down, said MRT Director for Operations Michael Capati. 

It took around "3 to 6 months" for spare train parts to arrive after the DOTr took over the MRT operations, he added. 

"Bumaba talaga ang ridership kasi during the time na hinawakan namin iyan, saka time ng BURI, ang daming glitches so ang mga tao, napagod na rin, naghahanap din sila ng alternatibong sasakyan," he told radio DZMM.

(The ridership went down because during the time that we handled that and during the time of BURI, there were so many glitches that exhausted the public, prompting them to look for alternative transport modes.) 

The DOTr aims to complete the repair of trains and the track in 2021, he said. 

"We will review the [COA] report and sasagot naman tayo kung anong mga kailangan nating impormasyon na i-gather muna," Capati said. 

(We will review the report and answer whatever information that we need to gather first.)