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Lito Atienza backs Duterte’s P17B Metro rail subsidy

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A minority lawmaker has expressed support for President Duterte’s plan to invest another P17 billion to expand the capacity of commuter trains in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, citing their social and economic benefits.

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said government subsidies to passenger trains are imperative to cope with the growing demand for high-speed and affordable public transportation.

Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, is counting on the development of railways to improve mobility in a big way and to eventually help eases overall road congestion.

“Once we have more trains all around, people are bound to rely less on cars when going to work or school, simply because they are able to save a lot of time and cut down on fuel as well as parking expenses,” the House deputy minority leader said.

The proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 has some P17 billion in new appropriations to support rail projects, including:

• P4.8 billion in subsidy to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, plus P1.0 billion for increased capacity;

• P1.3 billion for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension Project, the 11.7-kilometer line from Baclaran, Parañaque City to Niog, Bacoor City, expected to move 410,000 passengers daily;

• P1.2 billion for the Unified Common Station Project at SM North EDSA and TriNoma malls in Quezon City, designed to enable 500,000 commuters daily to conveniently transfer from one line to another between MRT 3, LRT Line 1 and MRT 7, the 22.8-kilometer line now under construction from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue;

• P895 million for the LRT Line 2 Rizal Extension Project, the four-kilometer line from Santolan, Pasig City to Masinag, Antipolo City, anticipated to carry 80,000 riders daily;

• P608 million for the LRT Line 2 Manila Extension Project, the three-kilometer line from Recto Avenue to Pier 4 North Harbor; and

• P7.1 billion for the North-South Railway Project Phase 2, the 653-kilometer Tutuban-Calamba-Batangas-Legaspi-Matnog line meant to serve 400,000 commuters daily.