– Minibus Association head
Not so fast.
That’s the message that President of the United Minibus Union, (UMU) Eon Andrews is sending to unscrupulous minibus operators who have already raised their fares.
Following a meeting between the Association and the Ministry of Business, operators are to increase their fares by $20 from September 1.
However, some operators are already demanding the extra $20 from passengers.
The issue has been fuelling anger amongst users of public transportation system.
This past week, Kaieteur News caught up with some users of minibus and hire cars, who expressed their concerns over the demands being imposed.
Melissa Agard, a regular passenger of the (‘Short- to- Grove’) bus route explained she has had clashes with the minibus operators over the issue.
“Unless you demand your rightful change, these bus conductors are taking the extra $20. It is not fair for us to have to argue with these minibus people for our rightful change,” she exclaimed.
Another passenger questioned whether the fare is temporary and based on the rise or fall of fuel prices.
“I just want to know since $20 is being added on the regular fare because of a spike in fuel prices whether when the price of fuel drops if the fares will decrease. I believe that would be a fair deduction.”
Commuters have often complained about the manner in which they are treated by minibus operators.
The passengers expressed concern at being verbally abused by operators if they object about overloaded vehicles, the volume of music or music with vulgar lyrics, or about reckless driving.
As such, many commuters are in support of a code of conduct for minibus and public transport operators.
Meanwhile, President of UMU, Eon Andrews noted that the Union is actively pursuing the implementation of a rule book for minibus operators.
“If I am honest with you, decorum is a big issue for minibus drivers and conductors, especially when it comes to dealing with passengers.
They want to overload the minibus and play the music as loud they like without taking into consideration that they are providing a service.”
So some of the things we are taking into consideration is ensuring that these minibus operators undergo some form of training before they are licensed. We also want to make sure that they are uniformed,” he added.
At present, we are looking to consult with a number of agencies including the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, and Ministry of Public Security on the draft the code of conduct.
We are looking at introducing suitable legislation to back the code of conduct.”
Andrews said that the travelling public will also be included in the process of consultation since civil society will largely by affected by the pending changes.
As it relates to the increase fares, Andrews noted that fare structure would have to be posted on minibuses in keeping with the law to ensure that commuters are not exploited.
“We will be circulating the new fare structure so that commuters will not be exploited. There are some instances were a ‘short drop’ is already $80 and $100. Those prices are adequate for ‘short drops’; they need not be increased.
“In the meantime, it must be reiterated that the increase is from September 1 so any imposition of increase to commuters before that is a violation and passengers are urged to report such incidents to the police.”
Andrews said too that the cost of fuel is not the only factor for the fare increase.
“We took into consideration a number of factors, including the cost of tires, excise taxes, insurance, licensing fees and what would be a fair price for passengers to pay before deciding on the increase,” he added.
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