The government should finally come up with a proposal for how it plans to fund the operation of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, bearing in mind that there are only two years left before the system is slated to start operating in 2019, Ron Lam U Tou, who heads local think tank Macau Synergy Association, said on Monday to local newspaper Macau Post Daily.
Ho Ion Sang, who heads the legislature’s Follow-up Committee for Land and Public Concession Affairs, told reporters last week that the committee members thought that the cost of operating the LRT system will be a big drain on the public coffers.
Also speaking to reporters after a meeting of the committee, Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosario said that the government was still studying how much it will cost to operate the LRT Taipa section every year.
The government launched a two-month public consultation in February on proposed legislation on the future operation of the LRT system, with the aim of finishing a draft bill regulating the matter by the end of this year. The public consultation ended on Thursday.
The public consultation document proposes that the LRT fares be fixed by the government.
Rosario also told reporters last month that if the government decides to keep the LRT fares low, it would have to put a significant amount of money from the public coffers into the operation of the LRT system every year, adding that only ticket sales won’t be able to cover the high operation costs.
The public consultation document proposes that the LRT operator sign agreements with the city’s public bus operators to allow passengers to use a single card or ticket on both the LRT and public buses. Lam said that this could keep the LRT fares down.
Lam criticised the government for still not having come up with any proposal about the LRT fares. Lam also said that the government did not plan the LRT well, bearing in mind that the design of the LRT stations does not include any food and beverage shops.
Lam urged the government to come up with a number of financial models as to how it could fund the LRT operations.