MANILA, Philippines -- Fares commuters will have to pay for using the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train line will likely be close to the cost of riding a bus, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications.
Initial estimates showed that the cost of taking the MRT system could be just as affordable as riding buses—which were slower and less efficient than trains, Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Dante Velasco said in an interview on Tuesday.
“Indicative estimates show that it will not be that far from the fares in an air-conditioned bus,” Velasco said, referring to the new MRT rates being eyed.
He said the government would likely finalize the new rates this week.
The government wants to raise MRT fares to a level that will reflect the real cost of transporting a person from one end of the line to another.
The MRT currently charges P15 for a passenger to ride the MRT line from its southernmost Taft Avenue station to the northern end in North Avenue, Quezon City. However, the real cost of moving that passenger can go as high as P60.
Taking an airconditioned bus from Quezon City to Pasay City costs around P30.
The difference has been subsidized by the government, costing the state over P5 billion a year or over a third of the DOTC’s yearly budget.
The hike in fares is in line with the government’s “user’s pay” policy, in which only MRT passengers pay for the train’s operations. The current policy of subsidizing the MRT’s operations forces all tax payers, even those that do not use the train, to foot the bill.
The government also wants to raise revenues from non-traditional sources, like concession fees for food kiosks and advertising operations, so as not to pass on the entire cost of the MRT’s operations to passengers.
About half a million people use the MRT trains every day.