DOTr: No MRT-3 fare hike unless commuters feel improvements

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) — There's no impending fare increase in the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) despite its upcoming rehabilitation, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) assured the public Saturday.

"That is not even in the horizon for us at this point," DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in a statement.

He said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has made it clear a fare hike will be imposed only once the commuters experience significant improvements in the services of the MRT-3.

"Mariin na instruction ni Secretary Tugade na hindi tayo mag-i-increase ng anumang pasahe hangga't hindi nararamdaman ng ating mga commuters ang improvements sa services ng MRT-3," Batan said.

[Translation: "Secretary Tugade strictly instructed us not to increase fares until the commuters feel improvements in the services of MRT-3."]

The transportation authority made this clarification, following the signing of a ₱18.76 billion loan agreement between the Philippines and Japan for the rehabilitation of the 18-year old rail system. The rehabilitation, which is expected to last for more than three years, will cover the replacement of worn-out tracks, the upgrading of signaling systems and the overhaul of light rail vehicles.

Once completed, the number of MRT-3 trains would increase from 15 to 20 during peak hours and they would operate faster at 60 kilometers per hour, slashing travel time by half, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said during the loan agreement signing.

However, there may be fewer trains running on the MRT-3 while repairs are ongoing.

The MRT-3 has been notorious for breakdowns and glitches in recent years. The rail line reported an average of two glitches a day in 2017.

The MRT-3 now charges commuters from P13 to P28, depending on the destination. Previous attempts to hike prices were widely opposed. The DOTr, in its statement, said it last increased fares in January 2015 from P10 to P11, but this further went up to its current P13.