With the LRT-MRT common station project finally set to push through, Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the government to explore options to generate additional income from the project by maximizing the value of the projected foot traffic through the station.
Based on the DOTr estimate of around 500,000 commuters using the station daily, Gatchalian said that the government could make at least PHP 182.5 million per year (Assuming PHP 1 of potential income per pedestrian x 500,000 x 365 days) if it bids out the value of foot traffic to be generated from the government undertaking.
“The foot traffic within the station will be an asset of the government because government created it. The income from foot traffic can be used to subsidize the station’s expenses, and therefore cut down train fares. This way, we can add even more value to this project for the general public,” he said, adding that the foot traffic value can still be included in the contract, which is still under review by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Gatchalian also urged the government to be more circumspect and forward-thinking in future negotiations for contracts with private investors, especially infrastructure projects that provide basic services to the people.
“Government should negotiate better and always look at the maximum benefits that it will get from these partnerships with private businesses. Government should always watch out for what would be most advantageous to the public,” said Gatchalian as he grilled officials of the Department of Transportation during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services concerning the LRT-MRT common station.
He bewailed that the government had already lost potential income from the undertaking because of the eight-year setback suffered due to the legal blockade put up by the SM Prime Holdings Incorporated (SMPHI), which was able to obtain in 2014 a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court against the relocation of the common station to the Trinoma mall area.
The SMPHI, under a September 2009 memorandum of agreement with the Light Rail Transit Authority, had paid government P200 million for the naming rights to the proposed station and to ensure that the station is located beside SM North EDSA.
“Commuters have been suffering for the past 8 years. We have been held hostage by the P200 million that the defunct DOTC accepted from the mall developer. And because of the squabbles between big businesses on where to build the common station, passengers continued to suffer,” Gatchalian said.