By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard Today | August 16, 2014

SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday said the Senate will scrutinize the proposed P6.6-billion ($150 million) allocation for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in 2015 to make sure transportation officials can deliver on the promises, including “under 300” service disruptions for the year.

In a statement, he said the proposed 2015 budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) had attacked a “promissory note” or deliverables to justify the allocation.

“We would like to know if by giving the P6.6 billion, the DOTC can redeem on its promises,” he said.

Rector said the budget hearings are also expected to tackle the state of the MRT 3, which has been hounded by maintenance problems, highlighted by the derailing of its train on August 12, which injured at least 34 passengers.

“I think we should also look if the public is getting value for the money it is giving MRT this year,” the senator said.

Under its proposed P52.9-billion ($1.209 billion) budget, the DOTC budget recommends an allocation of P1.92 billion ($43.9 million) for MRT operation and maintenance, and P4.66 billion ($106.5 million) as “subsidy” for the train system – higher than this year’s P1.81-billion operation and maintenance allocation and P4.09-billion subsidy.

“The DOTC is promising to reduce transfer time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes and decrease its load factor by 8 percent,” he said.

“As to service disruptions, it is keeping the number of what it calls ‘passenger unloading incidents’ to under 300 for the whole of 2015.”

Recto said hearings on the proposed DOTC budget could be to be “some sort of diagnostics session on what ails the MRT and what its cures will be.”

Some senators are seeking a Senate probe on MRT-3 operations and maintenance in view of the latest mishap, as well as an assessment of the entire public and mass transport system.