The state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) must first improve its services before implementing any fare increase but without burdening commuters to raise funds for the purpose, Sen. Francis Escudero said on Monday.
The PNR announced last week that starting July 1, the minimum fare would be raised from P10 to P15 for the first 14 kilometers. Then, there would be an additional P5 for every zone traveled or seven kilometers per zone.
When asked whether he supports the PNR’s planned fare hike, Escudero said, “They should first improve their services before increasing fares.”
“They can either borrow, ask for NG [national government]subsidy or enter into a PPP [public-private partnership] to do this. But I think it is simply unfair to make people pay for something that is yet to come,” he added.
PNR General Manager Jun Magno said the fare increase has been delayed for more than 20 years.
But Escudero said the delay is not enough justification to pursue the fare hike.
“Other than a fare increase, they should be more creative and innovative in looking for ways and means to first improve their services before beginning to consider a fare increase,” the senator added.
The PNR line, spanning 56 kilometers, stretches from Tutuban station in Manila to Mamatid station in Laguna.
Then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd signed into law in June 2014 Republic Act10638 extending to 50 years (until 2064) the corporate life of state-owned Philippine National Railways.
Cesar Chavez, undersecretary for railways at the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said the fare increase is expected to provide additional “revenue for the maintenance of its existing rolling stock, tracks and operating stations.”
The fare increase is authorized under PNR Board Resolution 094-2014 issued in December 2014 to address the substantial cash flow deficit incurred from the daily operations of the railway.
It was supposed to take effect on January 5, 2015 but its implementation was deferred since the government had just raised fares in other train systems such as the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 at the time. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO