THE Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 is grappling with significant operational and financial challenges due to escalating operations and maintenance expenses, coupled with considerable foregone revenues, leading to a significant financial shortfall.
Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Railways Jorjette B. Aquino reported this in Monday’s press conference, where she justified the need for fare adjustments for the MRT 3.
Currently, she said, the MRT 3 has P6.2 billion in deficit, owing to the increased spending on operations and maintenance, as well as the deferred implementation of fare increases.
Aquino explained that the maintenance and operating expenses of MRT 3 have been averaging P9 billion to P10 billion every year since 2020.
“This year, from January to October alone, our maintenance and operating expenses are approximately P8 billion,” she said at the press conference. “Last year, the revenue of MRT 3 reached P1.2 billion. Currently, in 2023, because the ridership increased from January to October, we have reached P1.9 billion.”
Despite the increase in ridership and revenue, “we still have a P6.2 billion shortfall or deficit,” she added.
This, she said, should prompt the increase in fares. Aquino explained that the “proper fare” for an end-to-end MRT 3 ride—from Taft Ave. Station to North Ave. Station—should be P69.
Currently, passengers only pay P28 for the said route.
“So there’s a shortfall of P41 per passenger, from end to end,” she said.
In January, the MRT sought to adjust its fares by adding P2.29 as boarding fare and a 21-centavo increase for each kilometer traveled.
Should the petition for fare increase be approved, the MRT 3 is expected to increase its income by “P55 million.”
“As everyone can see, the MRT 3 system is now much better, far more efficient, with more trains running and serving more passengers.
The P41 government subsidy for each passenger from end to end is expected to decrease. We believe this fare increase is also in the interest of the future of the rail system,” Aquino said.
Increasing the fares on the MRT 3 will also allow the government to reconfigure the train’s operations with the potential to convert the current three-car configuration to four cars.
This will increase the capacity of each train set by 394 passengers to 1,576 passengers.
“We expect to submit a notarized position paper to the chairman of the Rail Regulatory Unit of the DOTr this week,” she said. “We anticipate that within the next month or weeks, we will be issued a notice of public hearing.”
Once the MRT 3 receives that, it will be required to publish its petition in a newspaper of general circulation for three consecutive weeks.
“Then the rail regulatory unit has 30 days to evaluate and give their decision on whether our petition is approved or not, so that’s two months,” Aquino added. “After that, if it is approved by our Secretary and the rail regulatory unit, we are required to publish the approved fare for another three weeks prior to implementation.”
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza