LRT-1 foregone revenues mount

    P2B capex. Amid of the fare revenue deficit, LRMC spends P2 billion a year to operate LRT-1.
    P2B capex. Amid of the fare revenue deficit, LRMC spends P2 billion a year to operate LRT-1.

    Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), operator of Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1), yesterday said it is open to having a staggered fare adjustment on the rail system.

    Foregone revenues due to delays in fare adjustment approvals have reached P400 million yearly in the last four years, or a total of P1.6 billion.

    In a sideline interview at the official launch of LRT-1 mobile app IkotMnl yesterday, LRMC president Juan Alfonso said the company is in discussions with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the fare adjustments filed in 2016 and in 2018.

    “We’re waiting for DOTr to revert (to us on) what the plan is. Hopefully, we can work out something that’s win-win for everyone. We’re open to discussions with the DOTr (on a staggered adjustment),” Alfonso said.

    The company is set to file another petition for fare adjustment by 2020.

    “(The foregone revenues)… they’re what we call fare deficit. It’s about P400 million a year since 2016. It’s based on a formula (that translates) roughly (to) that amount,” Alfonso said.

    LRMC is allowed to adjust its fare every two years by 10 percent under its 32-year concession with the government to allow it to recover the investments for the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of the LRT-1 since it took over in 2015.

    The government has implemented fare hikes at the three rail systems including LRT-1 which increased the fare from P20 to P30 for the end to end station in 2015. Before that, the last fare hike was in 2003.

    LRMC has spent P8 billion to P9 billion for the rehabilitation and operation of the existing 20 stations of LRT 1, and P25 billion for the rail extension to Cavite.

    These amounts are on top of the P2 billion capital expenditure for the rail system every year.

    “The revenue  impact to us was direct. We have to look out different ways.. we have to look out how to help ourselves, manage our expenses and how to take more money doing other things. It’s a challenge.”

    As part of initiatives to improve passenger travel experience, LRMC launched  ikotMNL mobile app for LRT-1 riders, featuring a convenient one-stop information for commuters and tourists traveling along the route of LRT-1 in Metro Manila.

    The ikotMNL app, available for both iOS and Android devices, equips passengers to plan their trips and commutes ahead. The app’s core features include real-time train arrivals and departures, fare information, crowd monitoring in twenty stations of LRT-1, tourist spots, safety reminders, passenger advisories, news and announcements, a chat box for customer service assistance and a feedback form to help improve train service and passenger experience.

    This is the first railway and tourism app in the Philippines.