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LRT-1 posts surge in riders, says operator LRMC

LIGHT Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), saw a 139% increase in average weekday ridership in the third quarter, and the trend is expected to continue in the last quarter of the year, a company official said.

“For LRT-1, our average weekday ridership is already at 275,000 (average daily is 251,000) as of end Q3 (third quarter) 2022, which is a 139% increase from the same period last year,” LRMC Spokesperson Jacqueline S. Gorospe told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Friday last week.

She pointed out that last year, the National Capital Region was at the general community quarantine’s alert level 4 or strict mobility restrictions wherein public transport was only allowed to operate at 30% occupancy.

Asked if LRT-1 has reached or surpassed its pre-pandemic level of ridership, she said: “We have not reached or surpassed pre-pandemic level yet, but we expect a consistent increase in ridership trend this Q4 (fourth quarter).” She cited sustained alert level 1 status that allows “more onsite events and gatherings in light of the holiday season, and resumption of face-to-face classes in public schools.”

At the same time, she said that LRT-1’s record number of riders in a day of 300,000 was breached in October.

LRMC recorded a net loss of P329 million for the first six months of the year despite higher revenues amid the easing of travel restrictions.

But the railway company trimmed its net loss for the period from a loss of P402 million in 2021, according to its parent company Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

This is “despite the 41% increase in revenues due to the start of amortization of concession asset and interest costs on the existing rail system,” the listed company said in a recent report.

First-half farebox revenues increased to P767 million from P543 million previously.

Expenses for the period climbed 20% to P1.09 billion from P906 million in the same period a year ago.

“Average daily ridership rose 52% to 185,012 compared with 121,683 a year earlier, with the allowed operating capacity lifted to 70% in November 2021 and further to 100% in March 2022,” MPIC said.

MPIC is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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