Senator Grace Poe said the public deserves a safe and comfortable MRT3 ride in their daily commute with a huge budget being poured in to subsidize its operations and for its maintenance.
During interpellation of the P147-billion proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Poe said she expects the agency will be able to fulfil its target to complete the rehabilitation of the MRT3 line by July 2021.
“You will be done by 2021, all those rails will have been replaced?” the veteran legislator asked.
“Yes, complete rehab, almost like brand new,” Senator Win Gatchalian, sponsor of the agency’s budget, said.
“The MRT subsidy has been continuously rising.”
Poe noted that the MRT subsidy has been continuously rising–from P3.4 billion in 2016; P4.6 billion in 2018; P4.7 billion this year, to P6 billion in 2020.
“In addition, the cost of MRT rehabilitation project this year jumped to P5 billion from P1 billion last year. May we know the reason behind this for the record?” the seasoned lawmaker asked.
Gatchalian replied, “Because of the bugged operations of MRT, basically ridership targets were not being hit. If we don’t hit the ridership targets, government has to cough up the guarantee. Basically over the years, we are not hitting the desired number of ridership. Hence, government has to compensate the proponent through the increase in subsidies.”
“The reason we are not meeting those targets is because also of the maintenance issue.”
“That’s the problem and the reason we are not meeting those targets is because also of the maintenance issue which is hopefully going to be addressed,” the lady senator said.
Upon Poe’s questioning, Gatchalian said that the DOTr has already signed a consent agreement with Sumitomo Corporation to operate the Dalian trains and for the maintenance of MRT3.
She said the details of the cost of the Dalian train inventory by Sumitomo should be disclosed.
“I think we have to be very prudent about this agreement to make sure that it is cost-effective. From the very beginning, I was already very apprehensive about accepting Dalian trains precisely because of its incompatibility on so many levels, beginning with the signalling system. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge now,” Poe said.
She stressed, “When you see people lining up outside waiting for their train rides while it is pouring outside, umuulan o napakainit, ang aga-aga nandoon na sila, parang wala ka namang puso kung hindi ka pa rin makokonsensiya dito sa mga nagawa, marahil ng mga nakaraan, pero pagkakataon na kasi natin na ayusin ito.”