Thursday, February 12, 2015

Recto : Hand straps lang di agad mabili, pa’no pa kung bagon, riles? Use fare hike income to fund repairs

MANILA-There’s no excuse for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) not to buy handrail straps – to prevent its riders from falling like dominoes as its aging coaches are becoming prone to sudden stops – as their P2.25 million cost is a drop in the bucket of its farebox income and government subsidy.

“Sabi ng isang MRT spokesman, i-pro-proseso pa nila ang pagbili ng handstraps. Pero last year, kasama na iyon sa kanilangprocurement program na sinubmit sa Senado,” Sen. Ralph Recto said.

Recto said if the MRT has ahard time buying hand straps – which in official documents will cost P2.25 million – then it speaks volumes about government’s capacity to improve service in the 17-km, 13-station line which ferries 600,000 passengers daily.

“Kung band-aid solusyon lang tulad ng hand straps ay mahirap mailagay, paano pa kaya kung mga bagon at riles na ang pag-uusapan?” Recto asked.

Recto said MRT should source the funds for hand straps and other repair materials from its farebox income as that is what is clearly stipulated in the 2015 national budget.

“It says in one of the provisions of RA 10751 that administrative costs, maintenance fees and special repairs shall be principally funded out of passenger fares,” he said.

He said MRT will earn P1.1 billion more a year from the fare hikes it imposed on January 4. MRT upped from P10 to P11 the base fare, plus an additional P1 per kilometer.

And one of the justifications for the increase is that it will improve its service, Recto said.

“In the official DOTC press release announcing the fare hike, the agency promised that with increased fares will come better MRT services,” Recto said.

Recto added that on top of fare revenues, part of the MRT revenue stream is the P7.23 billion in direct subsidy it will get from the national government this year.

Of this amount, P2.57 billion will be for “MRT-3 rehabilitation and capacity expansion” and P4.66 billion is for rider subsidy.

There is also P18.4 billion in the Unprogrammed Fund section of the 2015 national budget which can be tapped for MRT-3 rehabilitation and capacity expansion (P7.4 billion); payment of taxes of MRT-3 Build-Operate-Transfer contract (P6.5 billion); and P4.4 billion for the equity buy-out of the MRT Company.

“Because the release of these funds can only be triggered by excess revenues or new loans, then this is what is considered as contingent subsidy dependent on certain conditions,” Recto said.

“Just the same, we’re looking at P38.88 billion gross rail sector funding in the national budget covering LRT, MRT and PNR projects and operations for this year,” Recto said.

“Tapos hand straps lang hindi natin mailagay kaagad? Akala ko ba increased government spending na tayo? Akala ko ba budget-as-release document na tayo?  Akala ko ba anticipated bidding na tayo para start of the year roll out na?”

Recto said the DOTC submitted to the Senate a list of 18 MRT rehabilitation projects that will be implemented from 2014-2016 with a total cost of P6.8 billion. 


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