Bayan questions possible LRT fare hike

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2023 11:49 AM

The LRT-1 Roosevelt Station in Quezon City reopens to the public on December 5, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File 
The LRT-1 Roosevelt Station in Quezon City reopens to the public on December 5, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Two out of 8 Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) board members approved a petition to increase the fare of LRT-1 and LRT-2. 

Based on the document sent to ABS-CBN News, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and a private representative sector signed the proposal to increase the fare. 

The resolution is yet to be approved by secretaries of the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, LRTA admin, and, finally, Department of Transportation.

The hike would mean an additional boarding fee of P2.29 and a distance fare of 21 centavos. The new boarding fare will become P13.29, while the distance fare will increase to P1.21 per kilometer — both in LRT-1 and LRT-2. 

Bayan questioned the timing and process of the looming fare hike.

“The DoTr said in May 26, 2022 that there would be no fare hike amid rising inflation, which at that time was at 4.9%. Inflation at end of December 2022 already reached 8.1%. So why will a fare hike be granted now?” Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Reyes also said that the fare hike approval should not push through in the absence of “real” public hearings.

“It is a violation of the rights of the commuters. If the LRMC and LTRFB will argue the current concession agreement does not provide for any hearings insofar as fare hikes are concerned, then we again return to the problem with the concession agreement and the policy of privatization as being anti-commuter,” Reyes said.

Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez declined to comment on the matter as the petition is “not yet approved” by the Department of Transportation.

In December, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista said that the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) “deserves to recover its investment.”

The Department of Transportation has been putting on hold the fare adjustment of the LRT-1 since the Light Rail Manila Corporation took over the operations and maintenance in 2016. Implementing a fare adjustment every two years is part of the contract signed between the government and LRMC.

"I think the private sector deserves to recover their investment. They will provide a very good experience to the passengers. And with that, I think they should be able to recover their investments and make a reasonable rate of return on these investments," Bautista said in December.

The LRMC filed petitions for a fare increase in 2016, 2018, and 2020, but they were all disapproved by the government. 

This prompted the LRMC to file an arbitration case against the government before the International Chamber of Commerce. The company said it lost around P2.6 billion because of the fare hike rejection.