Senator hopeful PNR has solid plan for maintenance

MANILA-- With the Philippine National Railway (PNR) set to implement a PHP-3 fare hike on July 1, a senator on Monday expressed hope that the management would also prepare a solid plan for maintenance of trains and other related facilities.

With its fare hike, I'm hoping that the PNR has a solid plan for its maintenance. Be mindful that the passengers of the train are forking over their hard-earned money for convenience, detained Sen. Leila de Lima said in a statement.

De Lima noted that the fare hike is the only immediate solution to shoulder the maintenance of the trains, but PNR management should be able to produce measurable and satisfactory results with the hike.

She previously authored Senate Bill (SB) No. 370, which seeks to provide the rehabilitation and revitalization of the PNR system.

The neophyte senator, meanwhile, stressed that the amendments to the existing PNR law would address long-term gaps, which cannot be resolved through a price hike.

A vehicle toward economic progress, the PNR does not only serve as a railroad and transportation system. It is an indispensable element to infrastructure connectivity. Its rehabilitation will impact not only the daily lives of Filipino commuters, but also the whole country, De Lima said.

She also urged her colleagues in Congress to support her proposed measure seeking the rehabilitation of one of the oldest operational train systems in the country.

Before even choosing to hike the fare, let us instead revise the governing law of the PNR to fast-track the rehabilitation and revitalization of the train infrastructure, De Lima said noting that Congress is in the best position to help the PNR.

If passed, the Senator's SB 370 would grant the PNR a capital stock of PHP 100 billion, up from the existing PHP 250 million allowable stock.

The bill will also grant the agency exemption from all import duties on all railway materials, rolling stocks, spare parts, and equipment, in order to reduce the cost of maintaining and improving train service and operations for the benefit of the public.

De Lima hopes that her proposed PNR Rehabilitation measure would be considered once Congress resumes its session next month.

On June 19, the PNR announced it would implement a PHP-3 increase for the minimum fare of its train on July 1, for the first 14 kilometers. An additional PHP 5 will also be implemented for every zone traveled after. This would bring the minimum fare of the train to PHP 15, with a maximum fare of PHP 53 for a whole trip.

Data from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) showed that the PNR had a monthly ridership of at least 189,000 passengers in 2014. Given this figure, the fare hike could yield an additional revenue of PHP 567,000 not counting the additional PHP 5 per zone traveled after the first 14 kilometers.

De Lima is currently detained in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center for drug trafficking charges. However, she is allowed to continue to file bills, resolutions and statements in the Senate.

Source: Philippines News Agency