A lawmaker on Wednesday described as “greedily insensitive and grossly unwarranted” the P5-to-P7 fare increase at the Light Rail Transit 1 being proposed by the Light Rail Manila Corporation.
Rep. Carlos Zarate, a member of the Makabayan Bloc, said his group will oppose the proposal all the way.
“This proposed fare hike will be an added burden to the public, and we must all oppose it,” Zarate said.
He made his statement even as Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday said the Transport department and the LRT board might consider delaying the proposed increase in fares.
Poe, head of the Senate committee on public services, said the department and the LRT could effect a staggered implementation of any fare hike to soften its impact on the poor commuters who have been hit by the adverse effect of the TRAIN law.
“This could be considered while the discussions on suspending some portions of the TRAIN law are ongoing,” Poe said.
Senator Bam Aquino said he welcomed Malacañang’s openness to the suspension of additional excise taxes in 2019, but described it as “too little, too late.”
“The public is looking for a rollback of prices of petroleum products and other goods,” he said.
Zarate said he saw no need for an LRT1 fare increase as the “annual MRT and LRT revenues outstrip operation expense.”
For instance, he said, the MRT earned P2.2 billion on ticket sales and only spent P1.8 billion in operational expenses in 2014.
On the other hand, the LRT earned P2.5 billion but only spent P1.03 billion for operational expenses in the same period.
“Year in, year out, it is a fact that these companies are earning hefty profits, thus they should be made to absorb the supposed impact of TRAIN and not pass it on to the already overburdened and overtaxed riding public,” Zarate said.
Instead of a fare hike, Zarate urged the Supreme Court to expedite its decision on the 2015 case filed by Bayan Muna and commuters’ groups questioning the legal basis of the fare rates imposed by the MRT and LRT rail systems.
“We are calling on the [Supreme Court] to resolve the said case the soonest, especially our prayer of returning the fare to its previous rates and for the accumulated funds from the fare hike to be returned to MRT and LRT commuters through discounted fares like what the [high court] did with the Meralco overcharging in 2013,” Zarate said.