THE Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said on Thursday that proposed fare hikes for LRT-1 and 2 must still undergo public consultation before being approved.
“The Light Rail Transit Authority would like to clarify that the matter of the fare increase will go through proper process,” it said in a statement.
It said that the recent approval by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) of the proposed fare increase is “in the nature of the agency being a member of the LRTA board of directors and not in the nature of a regulatory body.”
The other LRTA board members are the Departments of Transportation (DoTr), Finance, Budget and Management, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and two other members of the board.
“The fare increase must be approved by the LRTA board of directors and must likewise pass through the required regulatory process, which includes public consultation/hearing,” the LRTA said.
The LRTA, which is primarily responsible for the construction, operation, maintenance and/or lease of light rail transit systems, has proposed to adjust the fares of LRT-1 and 2 by P2.29, representing the so-called boarding fare, plus P0.21 per kilometer, known as the distance fare.
“The current boarding fare of P11 and distance fare of P1 per kilometer has been the rate since 2015,” it noted.
Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator of LRT-1, sought arbitration against the Transportation department and the LRTA over fare increases.
LRMC hopes to recover around P2.67 billion in compensation claims and costs resulting from delays in the implementation of fare adjustments for 2016, 2018, and 2020.
In a memorandum dated Dec. 21, 2022, the LRTA said Transport Secretary Jaime J. Bautista at a special meeting of the LRTA board on Aug. 30, inquired into the possibility of settlement outside of arbitration proceedings.
“The representatives from the DoTr legal affairs department and the LRTA legal department explained that both parties can discuss and avail of this possibility at any given time,” the LRTA noted.
The LRMC, according to the LRTA, sent a letter dated Sept. 28 expressing its willingness to suspend the arbitration case for six months “provided that there would be amicable negotiations on LRMC’s longstanding claims, among them the matter of the fare adjustment.”
The LRTA board has agreed to regular meetings with the LRMC “as a show of good faith and to show that the government is serious in resolving the pertinent issues and concerns,” according to the memorandum.
The LTFRB has said that it has “no objections to the proposed fare adjustments” for LRT-1 and 2. — Arjay L. Balinbin