Public service, not profits!

4 Feb

Position paper of the RILES Network on the proposed new fares for the MRT and LRT

We, the members of Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network – a broad network of employees, students, workers, the MRT LRT riding public, and advocates for efficient mass transport system as public service, hereby states our vehement opposition to the proposed increase in fares of LRT1, LRT2 and MRT3 to be implemented on March 1, 2011.

The public transport system is a government duty. We stand by the principle that it is the government’s responsibility to provide accessible and efficient mass transport system to the people to ensure their mobility amidst heavy traffic and expensive private transports.

Majority of the ridership of the MRT and LRT — around 50% are workers, 10% are unemployed and 30% are students — cannot afford the additional burden of higher fares. Around 70% of the passengers earns less than P10,000 monthly. Any increase in fares will contribute to the increasing gap between average household income (NCR minimum wage is at P404 or around P8000 monthly) and the daily cost of living (approximately P957 per family of six, P28,710 per month). The rising cost of prime commodities such as food and utilities, toll rate increases, oil price hikes, tuition fees of students among others had substantially decreased the capacity of ordinary citizens to cope with their daily expenses.

An increase of P10 per trip or P20 for a roundtrip fare is equivalent to a P400 average slash off our monthly budgets. This is already equivalent to the average monthly water bill, 15 kilos of rice or 50 packs of instant noodles. The government cannot ignore the fact that poverty and hunger increased because of the rising cost of commodities and utilities.

The light rail transit system is meant for public service not for profits. We oppose the unrelenting attempts by the national government to privatize the last remaining mass transport system subsidized by the taxpayers’ money. We also abhor the conditions cited in government contracts with private investors granting them hefty guaranteed return of investments (ROIs). The MRT subsidy had seemingly become unbearable because of the 15% guaranteed ROI given to the MRTC. The bulk of the government subsidy is directed towards paying these private investors and lending corporations, not on the operations of the LRT and MRT. As taxpayers, we demand that our taxes be utilized in funding basic social services benefitting the majority of the Filipino people, not to fund onerous contracts which will benefit the business interests of influential people.

RILES Network believes that the government should allocate sufficient funding for the LRT system to ensure its operations for the benefit of all. The national budget must give priority to basic social services, not debt servicing which eats up 78% of the peoples’ money.

The LRTA has no mandate to raise fares.
LRTA is a government owned and controlled corporation created in 1980 through Executive Order 603. It has the power to construct, operate, manage, lease and fix the rates of the LRT. But LRTA has no quasi-judicial authority to regulate the fares of LRT and MRT which is a public convenience and necessity. It can only propose new fares subject to the approval of a regulatory body.

We must stop the fare increase for the common good. Businesses will run smoothly if workers are able to go to their place of work on time and with less cost. Students will be able to go to school consequently providing our country with capable professionals in the future. It is in the interest of the people and the whole nation that we demand the government to heed the peoples’ overwhelming call to stop the LRT MRT fare increases.


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