The operators of short drop cars that ply the Stabroek to Ramp-Road route have reportedly increased the fare by $20.
This is as a result of the fuel price which has been fluctuating between ($985 and $998 per gallon) above the $800 promised by Government. But this increase is effective although the government has slashed the excise tax on fuel thus lowering the gas price.
Speaking to this newspaper, one of the operators said that he along with several of his colleagues raised the cost in the fare starting from today.
He said that until the relevant authority can subsidise the alarming price for fuel, the fare would be $80. “It makes no sense we come out here to earn a daily bread and at the end of the day we can’t carry home enough money to buy a pound of flour”.
Several other routs have already demanded from commuters an additional $20 or $40 in the fare since the starting of this year. One said route is the #32 minibus operators.
According to passengers, this occurrence takes place during the peak hours.
As it was, passengers were required to pay $140 from Georgetown to New Road, Vreed-en-Hoop but that has changed. The #32 minibus conductors are taking an additional $60, taking the fare to $200.
As persons travel further down the West Coast Demerara the fare will increase by $20 and $40.
A commuter mentioned that she believes the operators are taking advantage of the commuters.
Far in one corner of the said park was a woman with her four children whom she had just collected from school. With tears in her eyes she added that since 16:30 hours she was on the park trying to board a bus to take her children home.
The visibly upset mother said that her four children are tired and hungry but she is braced with the decision of paying the extra fare just to take them home.
Several minibus drivers said that some of the gas stations have raised their fuel prices and as a result the operators were left with no other choice but to hike the fares.
When asked if all the drivers of the buses that ply the West Coast Demerara to Georgetown route are making this demand, one driver confirmed that the hike in the fare is practised by most route #32 bus operators.
The most recent public transportation union to signal this move was the United Minibus Union.
President of the Union, Eon Andrews, indicated that the raise in fares for all routes under its remit by $20. This move will apply to routes 31, 32, 41, 43, 44, 45 and 46. The operators were earlier asking for a $20 increase across the board with the exception of minibus running the East Coast Demerara routes.
Operators heading beyond Enterprise were asking for a $40 and $60 increase. Drivers were asking for the $40 and $60 increases on the cost for travel from Georgetown to Mahaica, the end of route 44.
The United Minibus Union is a duly registered minibus Union since 2008 and according to Andrews, “contrary to the Minister of Commerce, we had several meetings with him and the Minister of Transport over the past two years to discuss minibus matters.”
According to Andrews, the cost of vehicle maintenance has sky rocketed, hence the cost of operating a minibus has grown to a point where all buses are operating at a loss.
“If the buses are to make a small surplus, the drivers and conductors have to work extra long hours per day, and speed to make more trips. This is dangerous since a driver working extra long hours will be tired and his reflexes and judgment will become poor, thus a danger to the passengers, and the public as a whole.”
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