LRT-2 revenues exceed P400 million  

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time since 2019, the government raised more than P400 million in revenue from operating the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2), as passenger traffic at the rail line recovers with the return to onsite learning and work.

LRT-2 operator Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said its ticket revenues nearly tripled to P412.1 million in the nine months to September, from P140.66 million a year ago.

The current revenue has already beaten by 79 percent the total collection in 2021, marking the first time in three years that it touched the P400-million mark.

The LRTA only collected P216.24 million and P229.96 million in revenue from LRT-2 operations in 2020 and 2021, respectively, due to the capacity restrictions that were put in place to contain the spread of the virus. There were weeks and months as well that the LRT-2 had to be closed when Metro Manila tightened to the strictest quarantine level.

LRT-2 registered a passenger traffic of 9.25 million in the third quarter, the highest since the 9.83 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019. In all, the rail line has facilitated the travel of 20.46 million passengers as of September.

The end-September figure has already exceeded the passenger traffic of 12.5 million and 11.84 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively, but has yet to close in to the pre-pandemic level of 56.98 million in 2019.

For 2022, the LRTA targets revenue of as much as P816.64 million, of which P710.08 million will come from fare collection and P106.56 million will be sourced from non-rail activities.

Similarly, the state-run firm hopes that LRT-2 ridership will reach 34.2 million for the year and to climb back to pre-pandemic volume to 61.66 million in 2023 and 93.52 million in 2024.

The LRTA needs to elevate its revenue measures to generate the needed funds to deliver LRT-2 expansion plans. For one, the agency is nearing to conclude the feasibility study for the Cogeo Extension Project that would add three stations to the east of the railway.

On top of this, the LRTA is pursuing the P10.12 billion LRT-2 West Extension Project that will be bankrolled by the national budget based on latest discussions. The project seeks to broaden the rail line by building three new stations to the west: Tutuban, Divisoria and Pier 4.

For these reasons, the LRTA decided against extending the Libreng Sakay for Students after it incurred P30 million in losses from the program.

Based on data, the free ride service benefited a total of 1.62 million students in its duration from Aug. 22 to Nov. 5.

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