July 22, 2018, 11:58 pm
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LRT extension hinges on fare hike

Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), operator of Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1) yesterday urged  government to approve a pending P5 fare hike saying this would assure the rail’s extension to Cavite.

Juan Alfonso, LRMC  president, said  the fare increase will give banks the confidence to lend to the company the funds needed for the LRT1-Cavite extension project, knowing LRMC can recover its investment.

LRMC plans to finance the project through a combination of bank loans and internally- generated cash flow.

The P5 fare increase will allow the company to recover the P7.6-billion capital investment it has infused for the expansion and modernization of LRT-1 since 2015.

The P30-billion project involves the  extension of the system to Sucat and  Las Pinas in Paranaque all the way to Bacoor in Cavite, allowing at least 300,000 residents each day to travel to Baclaran where the existing LRT 1 ends, in just minutes and  without traffic.

Travel time  from Baclaran to Sucat will take only 15 minutes; to Las Pinas, 20 minutes; and to Bacoor, 30 minutes.

 “We can virtually guarantee these travel times because we are traffic-free. And we are investing P5 for every P1 revenue (raised) to ensure that LRT-1 is efficient, trouble free and also clean. Today, trains come every 3.5 minutes, down from 5 minutes when LRMC took over operations and maintenance in 2015,” Alfonso said.

With the increase, the average fare will be at P25 or just about the same as a bus fare, and much lower than taxi and transport network company fares, Alfonso added,

“LRT-1 is the solution to the traffic problem caused by the high population density and urbanization of Metro Manila,” said Alfonso, citing a  study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency which said economic losses in Metro Manila  traffic is estimated at P3.5 billion a day.

“If we do nothing, it will become P5.4 billion a day in 2034, but by accelerating infrastructure projects, it can be reduced to P3 billion a day. And with projects like the Cavite extension, this can be further reduced to P2.4 billion a day,” Alfonso added

 Once built, the extension will stretch LRT-1 to over 33 kilometers from Roosevelt in Quezon City to Niog, Bacoor.  

Travel time from Bacoor to Central Station in Manila will be down to 45 minutes, and to Roosevelt Station, one hour and 10 minutes even during rush hour, Alfonso said.

The fare adjustment is part of the terms of the 32-year concession agreement inked by LRMC with  the government where the former is allowed to implement fare adjustments of 10 percent every two years. 

The pending fare increase covers the year 2016 and 2018.

The government has implemented the fare increases at the three rail systems including LRT 1 in 2015 from P20 to P30 (end-to-end), the  most recent fare hike since 2003.
Cavite extension, totaling 11.7 kms. in length will connect the existing Baclaran Station to eight new stations namely Redemptorist, NAIA Avenue, Asia World; Ninoy Aquino; Dr Santos; Las Pinas; Zapote; and Niog. Dr Santos, Zapote, and Niog stations shall provide transfers to other modes transportation.
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