LRMC seeks govt hike in LRT-1 fares before takeover

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THE Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) wants the government to implement an increase in fares for LRT-1 before the company takes over the railway’s operations and starts building its extension project.

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LRMC last week signed with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority a 32-year concession agreement for the operation and maintenance of LRT-1 and its P65-billion extension project to Cavite.

LRMC is a joint venture company of Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s (MPIC) Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Ayala Corp.’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) PTE Ltd.

“We have 12 months to take over the operations [of the existing LRT Line 1]then 48 months to deliver the extension. The starting point is the signing of the agreement. Yes, there will be some financing involved, approximately 70 percent of the project cost,” Jose Ma. Lim, president and chief executive officer of MPIC told reporters.

He added: “We don’t want to close until we have all the requirements. Well, the detail design has to start already. The start of construction is immediately upon takeover. Financial close has to happen before we take over.”

LRMC was formally awarded the project by the DOTC and LRTA after the consortium submitted the lone bid with a premium of P9.35 billion.

“One of the most critical aspect is the fare increase, which we hope will be implemented in a timely fashion so that we have enough time to close with the banks. We don’t know when the government will implement (the fare hike). They were supposed to implement that on August 1 but they have not implemented it,” Lim said.

According to Lim, “The tariff schedule is P11 upon entry plus P1 per kilometer.

We have to take it one step at a time. Our immediate objective is to get familiar with the assets and conditions of those assets.”

Under the concession agreement, LRMC will operate and maintain the existing LRT Line 1 and construct an 11.7-km extension from the present end-point at Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite.

A total of eight new stations will be built along this route, which traverses the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas up to Bacoor, Cavite.

The extended rail line, where LRMC will invest P35 billion, is envisioned to help ease the worsening traffic conditions in the Parañaque-Las Piñas-Cavite corridor. It is also expected to enhance commercial development around the rail stations.

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