Transport group PISTON wants MRT, LRT fare hike scrapped

Antipolo City, August 6, 2010—Militant alliance of drivers and operators, Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) join the MRT/LRT riding public’s clamor of scrapping of the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) plan to increase the trains’ fares.

In a text message, PISTON secretary-general George San Mateo said that the proposal would only more burden to the children of workers and drivers, who have been struggling to provide their families good life, amidst the rising prices of goods and services.

“Hindi dapat ipasa ng gobyerno sa taumbayan ang pagkabangkarote nito na i-subsidize ang MRT/LRT. Tungkulin ng gobyerno na bigyan ang mga mamamayan ng affordable, reliable, safe at modern mass transport system,” read San Mateo’s text message to this reporter.

“Marami sa mga pasahero ng MRT/LRT ay mga anak ng tsuper, na mga manggagawa at estudyante. Kung kaming maralitang jeepney drivers ay nagsisikap magtiis sa hirap ng paglobo sa presyo ng krudo, mas dapat magtiis ang gobyerno na sa kasaysayan ay malaon nang kinukulimbat ang pondo ng bayan… Hindi “matuwid na daan” ang MRT/LRT fare hike, gayundin ang SLEX toll hike at pagpapataw ng VAT sa toll fees,” the militant transport leader explained.

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26, Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III had expressed his concern on the ballooning debts by the Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA). The solution that the DOTC had proposed is to increase the fares, as per recommendation by the Asian Development Bank in 2008.

Currently, in LRT Line 2, which travels from Recto (Manila) to Santolan (Pasig City), only charge each passenger P15. But the LRTA said that it’s not enough for the real fare value for that 13.8-kilometer ride is P60.

It is the government, says the LRTA, that shoulders the P45.

Meanwhile, students’ group League of Filipino Students had started their anti-MRT/LRT fare hike signature campaign last August 2.

In a statement, LFS national chair Terry Ridon said the petition-drive will prove to Malacanang that Pres. Aquino needs to heed the sentiments of the commuters and reject the MRT/LRT fare increase proposals.

He said that the said the signatures of those traveling public coming from the provinces, riding the MRT, will belie DOTC’s statements that only the Metro Manila commuters will be affected by the increase.

A law student from UP Diliman, Ridon said that MRT has afforded students studying in UP Diliman to take the daily commute from their homes as far as Cavite and Laguna to the campus.

He also said that students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, who are living in Rizal, had been regularly using the LRT II from Santolan to Pureza station—the station nearest to the PUP Main campus in Anonas St. in Sta. Mesa, Manila. (Noel Sales Barcelona/PILIPINAS REPORTER; see the published story in CBCPNews.com)