Enraged groups on Sunday slammed President Benigno Aquino 3rd for allowing the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to increase fare rates in the Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3), warning that the people will not accept the decision “lightly.”
Anakbayan staged a lightning protest at the MRT 3’s North Avenue Station in Quezon City on Sunday, the first in a series of protest rallies in MRT and LRT stations in the coming days.
In the weekend rally, dozens of youth activists held a sit-down protest to denounce the fare increases.
Various groups are expected to file a petition today at the Supreme Court questioning the fare raises.
“The Aquino administration should be held heavily accountable for approving these fare hikes despite the deteriorating state of our train lines and despite the fact that Filipinos cannot cope with these new and higher fares given the current economic situation. No sane President will want to unjustly burden his people like this,” Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chaiman, said.
He added that Aquino and members of his Cabinet “are out of their minds if they think that the riding public will take these fare hikes lightly.”
Starting on Sunday, MRT 3 fare increased from P15 to P28 for a trip from North Avenue Station in Quezon City to Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City, while in LRT 1, commuters traveling from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in Pasay City were charged P10 more from P20 to P30. Meanwhile, the maximum single journey fare in LRT 2 will now be P25, up from P15.
“Not only [are these fare hikes]a bad way to start the year, it is truly detestable, given that the current state of our train systems is far from being agreeable,” Crisostomo noted.
“No less than the [DOTC] has admitted that the fare increments will not lead to better service, but to the pockets of greedy private sector consortiums. This is exactly why the Filipino youth cannot take this issue sitting down,” he said.
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) also called on the people to oppose the fare increases with “utmost determination,” saying Aquino should be blamed for imposing an additional burden on millions of train riders.
The youth group said the fare increase is a heavy burden for thousands of students who ride the trains daily.
“A typical student who rides either the LRT or MRT buys one or two stored value tickets per week under the previous fare matrix. Now, students need to buy three or four P100- stored value tickets for one week. This will make a huge dent in the already-tight budget of thousands of students and their families,” said LFS spokesman Charlotte Velasco.
“Did the Aquino administration consider the fact that the student sector, which by nature doesn’t have a steady source of income yet, will be one of the most affected by the new train fares? Did President Aquino even think for one moment how doubling train fares will strain the budget of thousands of Filipino families that are barely coping with high education costs?” Velasco fumed.
The LFS estimated that a student who rides the LRT 1 on a daily basis will shell out an additional P6,000 per school year in train fares because of the rate increases.
Velasco pointed out that in a study published by Nielsen back in 2009, it was shown that students comprised about 30 percent of the ridership of LRT 1 and 42 percent of the ridership of LRT 2. On the other hand, MRT 3 caters predominantly to white and blue collar workers.