Added fare, added burden
MANILA, Philippines—“It is like giving us a lollipop then pulling it out of our mouth without even tasting it.”
This is how Romel Maglinte, a 45-year old carpenter from Antipolo, Rizal, and a Metro Rail Transit (MRT) commuter describes his feelings about the fare increase in the commuter train which takes effect Sunday, January 4.
After a huge oil price rollback and a provisional decrease in fare the of public utility jeepneys in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation and Communications announced the fare hike in the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2.
The announcement was made in midst of the holiday seasons while the riding public was in vacation mode and government offices were on break.
The DOTC will implement the P11.00 ($0.25) base fare hike and an additional P1.00 ($0.0223) per kilometer for the LRT 1 and 2, and MRT3.
In 2003, the LRT-1 increased its fare while the LRT-2 and MRT haven’t been increased since their operations.
Some MRT3 regulars are now thinking of taking other means of public transport because of the fare hike.
“The reason why I choose to take the train every day is because I am able to save money for it is the cheapest compared to other public transportation despite of the long lines and overcrowded [coaches]," said Rizalyn Panotes, a 27-year-old sales executive.
Panotes, who takes daily rides on the MRT3 from North Edsa to Ayala, Makati, and back, added: "With this fare hike, I might consider taking the bus. It is much [more] convenient."
Some train passengers want to experience improvements in the system and facilities before the government implements a fare hike, like Patricia Narciso, a social worker who lives in Caloocan and rides the LRT and MRT lines every day.
“Let them invest in fixing the elevators and restrooms first before asking for additional payment from the public. Why will I pay for something that I could not get? Yes, it is subsidized by the government but it is their obligation to give the public a good mode of transportation,” Narciso said.
While President Benigno Aquino III supports the MRT and LRT fare hike, saying he did not want to pass the problem to the next leader of the country, different militant groups, including Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan are girding for protest rallies against the fare increase at the start of this workweek.