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Second phase of MRT3 seen to be completed in 2 years
Anna Barbara L. Lorenzo, Business World (29 Jul 2004)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: The $198-million second phase of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), which would add three new stations to the existing 13, is expected to be completed in two years, MRT3 General Manager Roberto Lastimoso said.

The MRT3 is also expected to acquire 48 new coaches to be used in the three stations, with each car costing roughly $1.2 million.

"We have scheduled the meeting next week. We are just trying to remove legal impediments," Mr. Lastimoso said in an interview. The extension of the MRT3 is scheduled to start construction this year.

He added the financing scheme for the extension would depend on the mode of contract with the bidders.

With the new stations and the additional coaches, Mr. Lastimoso said ridership would double to about 700,000 to 800,000 daily from the current 350,000 to 400,000.

"Phase 2 will more or less cover the subsidy of the government. Now we are earning PhP120 million a month. We expect revenues to reach PhP180 million with the 700,000 passengers," he said.

Since it earns only PhP120 million a month, the national government continues to subsidize the remaining PhP60 million expenses of the MRT3 to keep it operational.

Mr. Lastimoso said increasing the number of stations would allow MRT3 to service passengers going to Roosevelt, Quezon City, and Balintawak and Monumento in Caloocan City, and therefore increase the train system's ridership. The MRT3 currently runs from Taft Avenue in Pasay to North Avenue in Quezon City with 13 stations and 73 coaches.

He added, however, that the longer journey in MRT3 may trigger another fare increase for the railway.

"We may revert to the initial proposed fare with PhP17 being the shortest ride, and PhP34 for the whole stretch because the journey would be longer," Mr. Lastimoso said.

The MRT3 is currently seeking Palace approval for a rate adjustment wherein the minimum fare for passengers would be PhP16, with an increment increase of PhP3 for every three stations thereafter. The maximum fare for the whole stretch of the MRT3 would be PhP25.

If the new fare matrix is implemented in August, the MRT3 administration said it expects revenues to jump 13%.

Source: Business World

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