Gov’t to look at expenses, consumer comfort before granting fare increase
By Bibi Khatoon
Before minibus drivers are given the go-ahead to increase fares, the Government has decided to undertake an analysis of the operations.
The analysis will be conducted by the Ministry of Business and will look at the overall cost of purchasing and operating a minibus.
Following the increase in fuel prices in May, minibus drivers requested permission to increase their fares and mounted several protests across the country.
Drivers who ply the 44 route proposed to increase fares from $80 to $100 from Georgetown to Buxton, $140 to $180 from Melanie to Georgetown, $160 to $200 from Victoria to Georgetown, $180 to $220 from Ann’s Grove to Georgetown and from $240 to $280 for the Georgetown- Mahaica route.
Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin had disclosed that the Minibus Association submitted a proposal to the Consumers Department of the Ministry.
On Thursday, Gaskin said he held a follow-up meeting with the Department, the United Minibus Union and representatives from various minibus routes.
The representatives he said, were asked to submit required data to the Ministry to complete the analysis to determine the need for a fare increase.
“We are looking to get some data from them to do a proper analysis to get a better understanding of what are their operating costs today as opposed to two years, three years, four years ago and whether a fare increase is justified and what the nature of such a fare increase should be,” Gaskin explained.
The minibus operators were not given a deadline to submit the data to the Ministry.
The bus drivers have argued that the increase in fuel prices made it hard for them to make a profit.
Meanwhile, Minister Gaskin also pointed out that the service offered by minibuses need to be improved significantly.
He said overloading of passengers is one area which needs to be addressed and from a consumers’ point of view, there is a lot that needs to be done in order to provide consumers with safe, comfortable and affordable travel.
According to Gaskin, drivers also need to create an environment that is conducive to “people getting to school and getting to work in one piece.”
Recently, a driver and conductor of a route 42 minibus were arrested and charged for overcrowding the front seat of the bus, Breach of Insurance, and overloading a minibus after a video circulated on Facebook.