LRT linking Manila to Dasmariñas to be studied

The rebidding of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 Cavite Extension project is to be pushed within this year but the Transportation department is still unsure if an extension to Dasmariñas will be feasible as it has to conduct studies first.

“We have to conduct a feasibility study (on the planned extension to Dasmariñas) first and study the viability before bidding it out,” Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters during the awarding ceremony of the first Philippine Transit App Challenge late Monday.

Abaya said the operation and maintenance of the existing LRT 1 from Quezon City to Pasay City and the 11.7-kilometer extension of the line from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite are still the coverage of the P30-billion contract that the government is auctioning off under the private-public partnership (PPP) scheme of the Aquino Administration.

Abaya admitted that bidding out a separate contract for the Dasmarinas extension would be a challenge once the LRT 1 line is already under a private operator.

“It will be a challenge. Some are saying that the government could charge a usage fee to the operator or build another line that goes to Dasmarinas that won’t necessarily use LRT 1,” he said.

However, Abaya also clarified that DoTC is set to commence the rebidding of the LRT 1 Cavite Extension project this year.

“After we get clearance from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), we are good to publish the invitation to bid. There is a NEDA Board meeting this month. If things go out as scheduled, hopefully, we can award the contract by February,” he said.

The Cabinet official said DoTC will seek NEDA Board’s approval on the proposed changes in the concession agreement for the LRT 1 Cavite Extension project. The President chairs the NEDA Board.

This was after the project’s bidding last August failed after generating only one bid that is even non-compliant.

Abaya said the rebidding of the project will be open to all, including those who failed to pre-qualify to bid, those who failed to submit pre-qualification documents and those who did not join in the original bidding.

The LRT 1 serves an average of 500,000 passengers a day. The highest daily ridership recorded was in February 2012 at 659,000.

The LRT 1 Cavite Extension Project is touted as the single most-expensive infrastructure project of the Aquino Administration.

While private sector invests P30 billion for the civil works on the extension to Bacoor, the government will spend another P30 billion to procure 39 new train sets for the mass transit line, apart from acquiring and delivering the required right of way, constructing satellite depots and implementing the automatic fare collection system that will lead to a unified ticketing system for all rail lines.

The winning bidder will be given the rights and privileges as a concessionaire for a period of 30 years. As such, the concessionaire will receive the proceeds of the fare collection but assumes ridership risk, undertakes future system maintenance and upgrades, and permits commercial development of the facility.

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