Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 December 2014
By Miguel R. Camus
MANILA, Philippines–Holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has renewed its offer to rehabilitate, expand and operate the overloaded Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 in Metro Manila after the Senate rejected a P54-billion government plan to take over the line.
MPIC president Jose Ma. Lim, in a hearing at the House of Representatives on Monday, presented adjusted capital investment figures for its offer valued at $524 million (P23.3 billion), lower than the $565 million (P25.1 billion) the company had proposed in 2011.
Lim said the lower amount was partly because an automated fare collection system was no longer included and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last year sealed a deal to acquire 48 new trains from China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co., which would start arriving in mid-2015.
“We are proposing that the DOTC no longer subsidize the MRT,” said Lim, adding that their plan would involve the undertaking of repairs and including tracks and rolling stock to “improve the level of services.”
MPIC is part of a consortium with Ayala Corp. that recently bagged the P65-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 public-private partnership deal, another elevated railway in Metro Manila.
Other highlights of MPIC’s MRT plan include almost doubling average fares to P28, which it argued was still below average bus fares of over P40 for a similar route, and extending the build-lease-transfer term of MRT 3’s private sector owner Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) by 15 years to 2040.
Lim said the higher fare would only be implemented after the rehabilitation and expansion plan is completed.
MPIC has yet to exercise options to effectively gain control of MRTC given the DOTC’s MRT 3 takeover plan, which has turned uncertain after the Senate rejected the P54-billion being sought by the DOTC to implement the buy-out of the rail line.