‘Burdensome, anti-poor’: MRT-3 fare hike plan sparks commuter discontent amid PUVMP woes

January 1, 2024 - 12:47 PM
A photo of MRT-3 trains at its underground depot in Quezon City (DOTrPH/Facebook)

The proposed hike in MRT-3 fares faced backlash from commuters on social media who argued that this worsens the ongoing transportation crisis in the country.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s “TeleRadyo,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista said that the transport agency had already approved the fare hike for LRT-1.

Bautista, however, noted that they will still discuss MRT-3 management’s petition to increase its fares.

“Yung LRT-1 aprubado na yan,” he was quoted in a report as saying. 

“Although kailangan talaga nila [MRT-3 management] ng increase, hindi naman sila masyadong mahihirapan kung hindi natin kaagad ibibigay ‘yung fare increase na hinihingi nila,” the transport chief added.

Bautista, however, did not provide a precise date for the impending fare adjustment of MRT-3 trips.

The interview was reported on December 13 and posted on social media on December 31.

December 31 marked the deadline for the consolidation of jeepney drivers and operators into cooperatives, a crucial step in the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Street demonstrations and a nationwide transport strike were held in opposition to the controversial requirement of the PUVMP.

RELATED: ‘#NoToJeepneyPhaseout’ trends on X ahead of December 31 consolidation deadline

Several Filipinos took to social media to bring up this issue, saying that the increased train fares add further weight on commuters’ shoulders.

“So ipha-phase out nyo yung jeepneys and then tataasan fares sa MRT? Mga pahirap talaga,” a Filipino user commented.

“This is so burdensome for us, commuters,” another X user lamented.

“PH government is indeed an anti-poor administration phasing out jeepneys and increasing the fares on MRT-3 all (almost) at the same time?” another Filipino user said.

Progressive groups Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakbayan also expressed their opposition to MRT-3 fares going up amid the possible phase-out of traditional jeepney vehicles in 2024.

Transport groups are voicing discontent over the substantial expenses and other issues linked to consolidating into cooperatives for the PUVMP, urging the government to extend the deadline.

Some supporters echoed the sentiment, saying that transport groups are willing to comply with the PUVMP if it ensures their livelihood isn’t entirely phased out.

RELATED: ‘Wala dapat maiiwan’: Jeepney driver daughter joins petition vs jeepney phaseout ‘Modernisasyon, hindi phase-out’: The battlecry of jeepney drivers, operators Vico Sotto explains why public should understand reason behind jeepney strike

Long-term goals

The MRT-3 management is requesting an increase in the minimum fare from P13 to P16 and a maximum cost from P28 to P34.

In a previous post on Facebook, Transport Assistant Secretary for Railways and MRT-3 Officer-in-Charge Jorjette Aquino cited “long-term effectiveness and sustainability” as the reasons for the petition to increase MRT-3 fares.

“We believe that this fare adjustment is on the right side of the future of the rail system at dapat sensitibo rin ang gobyerno sa kapakanan ng mga mamamayan sa long-term effectiveness at sustainability ng ating rail system…We want to make the MRT-3 system sustainable to build more and serve more,” Aquino said.

She said that the fare hike will take effect in late March or April 2024 once the petition is approved.

“Give or take three months pa po ang aabutin once mai-refile this week, kung maaaprubahan ng Rail Regulatory Unit. Ang expectation po namin ay mga late March or early April next year pa,” Aquino said.