In the case of MRT which caused President Aquino to excoriate the former administration in his SONA for having bought it back from its private developers, it now appears that the private developers still retained some non-rail but still revenue-generating businesses, for instance the spaces for lease and for ads, etc. In short, while the government shoulders the high cost of operations to run the trains, it is the private developers who profit in commercial businesses related to it which require relatively little expenses on their part.
“MRT, LRT, and train systems in general should be for public service. And they should remain so especially in these times when the public is already burdened so much by rising prices and depressed wages,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson on their launching protest rally in Cubao.
Riles network lead the riding public in opposing mass transit fare hike. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Malunes used to work for LRT. He served as president of its employees’ union, Pinag-isang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Metro-LRT (Piglas-LRT), a KMU affiliate, from 1995-2000. He was terminated along with hundreds of fellow employees after they defied the Labor department’s return-to-work order during their last strike in 2000.
LRT and MRT, two of the three mass transit systems in Metro Manila currently angling for fare hikes, seem also to want the public to shoulder the cost of further investments in the system, on top of the riding public paying for its operation and maintenance.
In a GMA news, LRTA’s Robles has reportedly said the fares from LRT users go mainly to operation and maintenance. With their proposed hike in fares, Robles also reportedly said the LRTA can acquire more facilities, invest for instance in new security equipment such as X-ray machines and walk-through metal detectors.
Given the way the public-private partnership in the mass transit systems has turned out, with the private developers getting assured returns as well as choice revenue-generating aspects of the mass transit operation, RILES called on the Aquino government to scrap all plans to sell the LRT-MRT to private firms.
“The government wants to raise fares to make MRT more attractive to private corporations, to show that they can profit from investing in it. But privatizing the MRT would only generate profits for businesses to the detriment of the commuting public. In the first place, public service is its main basis for operation,” Malunes said. “We have to insist,” Malunes concluded, that “the train should be for the people.” (Bulatlat.com)