The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it will shell out an additional subsidy of around P150 to P180 million so that passengers can continue enjoying the free rides on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) until the end of June.
At a virtual briefing on Wednesday, MRT-3 general manager Mike Capati announced the free ride program extension until 30 June, where commuters may access the train line from 4:40 a.m. to 10:10 p.m.
“(The extension) will allow the MRT3 to further test its capacity and performance in accommodating up to or more than 350,000 passengers. It will also continue helping our commuters ease their financial burden amid inflation and rising fuel prices,” Capati told reporters.
Capati added that the DoTr hopes that the next administration, led by presumptive President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., will continue the program.
The MRT free rides were initially implemented from 28 March to 30 April to celebrate the completion of the train line rehabilitation. The transportation department extended the program until the end of May to offer relief to passengers affected by the spike in fuel prices.
Based on the data from MRT-3, the program had 15,730,872 total ridership from 28 March to 24 May, with an average weekly ridership of 315,334. The train line recorded its highest ridership at 351,592 on 20 May.
While it offered relief to commuters, Capati pointed out that the railway line incurred P286 million in foregone revenues from 28 March to 24 May due to the program.
The amount is estimated to increase by around P150 to P180 million because of the program extension. The MRT-3 has a P7.1 billion allocation to subsidize and sustain its operations this year.
The MRT-3 Management and its maintenance provider, Sumitomo-MHI-TESP, completed the rehabilitation of the rail line last December 2021. It now operates at a speed of up to 60 kilometers per hour from the previous 25 kph.
The number of trains has also increased from as few as 15, now up to 23 operational trains. Headway or the waiting time between trains, on the other hand, improved from around 10 minutes to as low as 3.5 minutes.
Likewise, the entire stretch of its mainline tracks was rehabilitated. Its power supply, overhead catenary system, rolling stock, communications and signaling system, stations and depot facilities and equipment also got a much-needed upgrade.