Two lawmakers from the left-leaning Makabayan Bloc on Friday denounced as "very callous and insensitive the sudden, but without prior notice" the move of the Light Rail Transit Authority to implement a P10 increase for stored value tickets or “Beep cards.”
The LRTA announced on Thursday that the issuance fee has been increased from P20 to P30 starting Jan. 1. It said the increase is in compliance with the concession agreement between the Department of Transportation and AF Payments Inc.
The LRTA operates the LRT Line 2.
Party-List Reps. Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite said "The fee increase is another shocker and burden to commuters in Metro Manila, especially since another oil price hike occured and the third tranche of the TRAIN Law was implemented."
"Greed for more profit again trumps public interest," Zarate added.
Gaite, for his part, called on Congress to review the concession agreement between the government and the railway management system of the LRT.
"We are also calling on the Supreme Court to already expedite the decision on the 2015 case filed by Bayan Muna and commuters' groups questioning the legal basis of fare rates imposed by the [Metro Rail Transit] and LRT rail systems," Gaite added.
He appealed to the SC to resolve the said case the soonest, especially “our prayer of returning the fare to its previous rates and for the accumulated funds from the fare hike to be returned to MRT and LRT commuters through discounted fare like what the SC did with the Meralco overcharging in 2013."
Aside from lawmakers, the Department of Justice said it would also like to look into the price hike imposed on Beep cards.
According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the P10 increase on Beep cards may be "taken up at the next Cabinet meeting."
"The DOJ will await a formal request from the DOTr (Department of Transportation) or a direct order from the President," he said.
"Currently, the DOTr is reviewing the said concession agreement and all its provisions, with the end view of determining how best to protect public interest," the statement said.
The DOTr, however, clarified that despite the increase in the cash issuance fee for Beep cards, there will be no fare increase for the Light Rail Transit.
The DOTr said that there was no increase in the actual fare of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1, 2, and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3.
In a statement, the DOTr said the increase that was reflected is the charge in the issuance fee of the Beep stored value card.
“Any Stored Value Card distributed by the Concessionaire until 31 December 2019 shall be charged an issuance fee of not more than P20, and any Stored Value Card distributed by the Concessionaire after 31 December 2019 shall be charged an issuance fee of not more than P30,” referring to the 2014 agreement.
“Currently, the DOTr is reviewing the said concession agreement and all its provisions, with the end view of determining how best to protect public interest,” the DOTr added.