Senator Leila M. de Lima today said the Philippine National Railway (PNR) should be able to translate its PhP3 fare hike scheduled on July 1 to a better and convenient service to its estimated 45,000 daily passengers.
De Lima, author of Senate Bill (SB) No. 370 which seeks to provide the rehabilitation and revitalization of the PNR system, said the agency must guarantee value-for-money with a 25 percent fare hike.
“Granted that the fare hike is the only immediate solution to shoulder the maintenance of the trains, the PNR should be able to produce measurable and satisfactory results with the additional P3 hike,” she said.
“With its fare hike, I’m hoping that the PNR has a solid plan for its maintenance. Be mindful that the passengers of the train are forking over their hard-earned money for convenience,” she added.
The PNR announced it would implement a P3 increase for the minimum fare of its train on July 1, for the first 14 kilometers. An additional P5 will also be implemented for every zone traveled after. This would bring the minimum fare of the train to P15, with a maximum fare of P53 for a whole trip.
According to data from the Department of Transportation, the PNR had a monthly ridership of at least 189,000 passengers in 2014. Given this figure, the fare hike could yield an additional revenue of P567,000 not counting the additional P5 per zone traveled after the first 14 kilometers.
While PNR may be considered a crucial component for economic growth, De Lima said while she has to concede to a price hike, she also believes that the amendments to the existing PNR law will address long-term gaps, which cannot be resolved through a price hike.
“A vehicle toward economic progress, the PNR does not only serve as a railroad and transportation system. It is an indispensable element to infrastructure connectivity. Its rehabilitation will impact not only the daily lives of Filipino commuters, but also the whole country,” she said.
“Congress is in the best position to help the PNR. Thus, I urge my colleagues to support the proposed rehabilitation of one of the oldest operational train systems in the country. Before even choosing to hike the fare, let us instead revise the governing law of the PNR to fast-track the rehabilitation and revitalization of the train infrastructure,” she added.
If passed, the Senator’s SB 370 shall grant the PNR a capital stock of P100 billion, up from the existing P250 million allowable stock.
It will also grant the agency exemption from all import duties on all railway materials, rolling stocks, spare parts, and equipment, in order to reduce the cost of maintaining and improving train service and operations for the benefit of the public.
De Lima hopes that her proposed PNR Rehabilitation measure would be considered once Congress resumes its session next month.