NO FARE HIKE. Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan assures commuters a fare hike for the Light Rail Transit-1, LRT-2, Metro Rail Transit-3, and the Philippine National Railway is not being considered, in his interview in a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday (March 17, 2022). He said the railway sector will maintain its current fare rates and focus on ensuring the riding public's adherence to minimum health protocols. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) assured commuters on Thursday that the government has no plans of imposing a fare hike for the Light Rail Transit-1, LRT-2, Metro Rail Transit-3, and the Philippine National Railway, amid the series of increasing fuel prices.

In a Laging Handa public briefing, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has given specific instructions not to increase railway fares as the public faces simultaneous price increases on commodities.

“Alam po natin, meron nga po tayong nangyayari ngayon na pagtaas ng presyo sa langis na maaari pong makaapekto dito sa presyo ng ating ibang mga bilihin kung kaya’t sinisigurado po natin na sa utos nga po ni Secretary Art Tugade na sa sektor po ng riles ay tayo po ay walang kinokonsidera na taas pasahe (We know that there’s an ongoing increase in fuel prices which may affect the price of other commodities, that’s why Secretary Art Tugade has been instructing us in the railway sector not to consider fare hike),” he said.

He said the railway sector will maintain its current fare rates and focus on ensuring the riding public's adherence to minimum health protocols, particularly the imposition of the DOTr’s "7 Commandments," which aim to ensure the observance of minimum health protocols like the proper wearing of face masks, maintaining physical distancing, prohibition of eating and talking, among others.

The DOTr railway sector has been continuing its efforts against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), by conducting antigen testing and vaccination for commuters in designated areas.

On average, the DOTr has been conducting around 200 tests per week since February, with no positive cases recorded yet.

“Nasa 0 na po ang ating positivity rate natin sa linya ng ating mga tren, pero ipinagpapatuloy po natin itong antigen testing na ito, dahil ginagamit po natin ito na parang indicator para makita natin kung magkakaroon po uli ng mga kaso ng Covid-19 (We have zero positivity rate in the railways, but we will continue conducting antigen testings, because we're using this as an indicator if we will again monitor Covid-19 cases),” Batan said.

Around 5,526 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered with the help of the DOTr.

Batan urged unvaccinated individuals to get jabbed, saying marshals are on standby to assist in filling out consent forms and providing information on the available schedules and designated stations.

Meanwhile, the DOTr-MRT3 Director for Operations Michael Capati assured the riding public that trains remain safe even under full capacity.

But amid the Alert Level 1, the average ridership in railways has not yet reached its pre-pandemic volume, he said.

The LRT-1 has an average ridership of 182,000, barely reaching half of its 400,000 pre-pandemic count; 59,000 for LRT-2 (160,000 before); and 220,000 average for MRT-3 (270,000 to 300,000). (PNA)