Let us protest the MRT-LRT fare hike!

21 Jun

We condemn the announcement made by Sec. Joseph Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications that fare hikes in the MRT and and LRT will be implemented starting August this year.

A fare hike in the two train systems will gravely increase the burden of the riding public, composed of workers and students coming from the country’s poor majority. The fact that the P10 increase will be implemented in two equal stages until 2014 does not lessen our condemnation of this burdensome scheme.

The Aquino government’s assertion that the fare hike will not substantially affect the riding public is proof of its distance from and insensitivity towards the majority of people in the country. It is confident of generating a bigger revenue once the hike is implemented because it knows that a public transport system that may serve as alternative to the MRT and LRT does not exist.

The government is resorting to saying that the fare hike is overdue in an attempt to cover up the utter lack of a sound basis for its implementation. It is the government’s duty to provide a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system to the public. The government has the duty to subsidize the train systems and at the same time protect the public from the onerous terms and conditions of the contracts which it entered into with greedy businessmen.

What the government should do is renegotiate the terms and conditions of the contracts for the MRT in order to lessen the profits being raked in by the private contractors in the form of interest payments and guaranteed profits. It should ensure that the riding public’s interest is prioritized and that subsidy for the train systems is truly spent in order to make the MRT and LRT safe and efficient.

The MRT-LRT fare hike is a prelude to the train systems’ privatization, as the higher fares are meant to entice capitalists to bid for the train systems. It is therefore a portent of worse things to come for the trains’ passengers.

We are calling on the public to condemn and protest Sec. Abaya’s announcement, the MRT-LRT fare hike and the scheme to privatize the train systems. We vow to hold protests in the coming weeks and we will not stop until this scheme is junked.

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